“Food is what connects us all to each other and to the natural world, which makes it an incredibly powerful medium for thinking and acting collectively … I can’t think of a more powerful or positive global revolution than one in which we all learned to see the world through food …” (a quote from author Carolyn Steele regarding her book: Hungry City).
When we think about the fact that there are now over one billion starving people in our world and over a billion individuals who are overweight—food as a collective focus for corrective action arguably should be put at the top of the list.
When we think about the health consequences of being overweight, of an increased risk to heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis, to name a few—food becomes an intelligent focus for an effective risk management solution.
When we think about the link between the mounting environmental disaster occurring world-wide of global warming, de-forestation, oceanic dead zones, contaminated and depleted groundwater supplies with the unsustainable industrialized agricultural practices throughout the world today—we will come to realize that a properly thought-out and implemented food system can accomplish our most utopian of goals, creating a world governed by principles of economic sustainability, environmental quality and social equity.
Here’s a very pertinent reflection by Rebecca Hoskins in her film: The Farm for the Future:
So, how did we get from an environmentally friendly Paleolithic diet of fresh organic fruits, vegetables and meats to a big box sandwich dripping in oil?
Glad you asked! And, so is Carolyn Steel—one of our most elegant commentators on our hungry cities.
About 10,000 years ago is the beginning of a process in the ancient Near East within the “fertile crescent” where there is a convergence of two phenomena—agriculture and urbanism. It was the discovery of grain and the domestication of animals by our ancient ancestors that produced a food source that was large enough and stable enough to support permanent settlements.
These settlements were compact and surrounded by farmlands of millet, wheat, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, chia which became staples, along with cultured dairy products from their domesticated animals. The city of Ur in Chaldea, home of Abraham, as described in the Bible, was one such city. So too were the cities built by the Incas of South America and the Aztec of North America. These cities were dominated by large temple complexes. They were spiritualized central food distribution centers because it was the temples that organized the harvests, gathered in the seeds and grains, offered it to the gods and offered the grains that the gods didn’t eat back to the people. The whole spiritual and physical life of these cities was dominated by the grain and the harvest that sustained them.
Rome had about a million citizens by the first century AD. It had access to the sea which made it possible to import food from far away. In fact, Rome waged war on Carthage and Egypt just to get their grain reserves. If we look at preindustrial London, grain came into the city via the Thames River which runs through the southern part of London. Therefore, the main grain market developed in south London, while the meat market developed in the northwest corner of the city. The animals to be slaughtered were herded into the city from Wales and Scotland. The food markets were the center of city life in the preindustrial world. These cities were very organic and part of an organic cycle.
Then came the industrial revolution and everything changed. Now animals were slaughtered outside the cities and brought into the city by train. Cities can be grow into any size and shape, they are emancipated from geography as food can be transported in. The rest is history that we are all very familiar with. We drive to a “big box” to get a week’s worth of processed foods and then drive home. We used to cook, now we just add water. We don’t smell food to see if its good. We just read the back of a label on a package. Cities have actually distanced us from our most important relationship—that between us and food, us and nature.
Projects to reconnect us with nature, to make cities more organic, to revitalize fresh food markets, to bring real food back into our cities and our lives, are occurring all over the world. Food is the center of life. It is to be celebrated and enjoyed by all. What can be more of a productive work than our collective focus on creating a vital and equitable food distribution for all of humanity?
Detox and weight loss are certainly hot topics in medicine along with the myriad of programs to effectively and of course efficiently accomplish these goals. One such program that is getting a lot of press (could be because supposedly the royals are using this diet) is The Dukan Diet.
Created by French medical doctor Pierre Dukan, it is a high protein, low fat, low cholesterol, low carb, approach to weight loss. The first phase of the program, the attach phase, consists of consuming pure protein products, 72 to choose from—and one such protein is non-fat yogurt. He also recommends during this phase eating oat bran and drinking lots of water.
With no fruits and vegetables, it is imperative to add in the Therapeutic Foods for antioxidant and phytonutrients benefits. The probiotics will help those who deal with allergies to dairy. With all this protein intake, the challenge is to maintain a healthy balance of intestinal flora that are fermenters and not putrefiers. Read last week’s email for more information. The Original Synbiotic Formula, with 4 grams of inulin and 20 billion lactic acid fermenting bacteria per teaspoon, would be a perfect choice. The Beta Glucan Synbiotic Formula with 10 gram of fiber (oat beta glucans, red beet root fiber, and inulin) plus the same 5 good bacteria as the Original would be another. Finally the Number 7 Systemic Booster with probiotic and fiber, berry extracts (which are very low in sugar, and other important nutraceuticals and phytonutrients would be a powerful addition.
The Last Quiz Answer:
It is very impressive for me to see Tippi befriending this bull African elephant. African elephants are much more hostile towards humans than their Indian elephant counterparts. African elephants have had predators trying to kill them and their young ones for tens of thousands of years while Asian elephants have had little predator interaction. No African elephants have been domesticated persay, but a handful have created strong bonds with humans as Tippi gives testimony to here.