You are what you eat
Posted on 16th February 2022 at 07:43
You’ve probably heard this maxim before. You are what you eat. Or one like it.
While we may prefer to ignore it, what we eat has a direct effect on our bodies and health. It really is that simple. Full stop. End of story.
Sometimes in the short term, more often far down the road. Regardless of the timing, it’s still there. Perhaps the effects are not easily measurable beyond feeling less energetic or ageing less well than those around us. All too often, it can be measured – and seen – as a chronic health issue, particularly degenerative diseases such as Arthritis, Cancer or Heart Disease. Whether we’re able to join the dots is another matter, particularly when the seeds were sown many years – or decades ago – as many conversations with Clients over the years have shown…
Unfortunately, this is only the first link in the chain. Or, food chain, to be more precise.
Exactly the same maxim applies to the food itself. In other words, its health – not to mention nutritional value and much more – comes from the “food” it “consumed”. Or, to use a popular computing term, “rubbish in, rubbish out.” And, yes, we know these may not be the best words to describe it, but we’re sure you get the message!
While it’s easier to see where the “food” comes from for animals, it’s exactly the same way for plant based foods. Although, here, the “food” comes from the soil it was grown in – or water, with the increasing popularity of hydroponic methods of cultivation. Not forgetting the air, sunlight, artificial light and water. And, so, it goes on down the food chain. Animals, plants, soil, water, air.
But this is only part of the picture. What about all the other things that animals and plants “consume” during their lifetime? While these may vary from food to food, they’re still very much part of the food production process. Let’s take a quick look at some examples from both meat and plants:
In animals, much has been written about the widespread use of antibiotics pre emptively. By helping prevent disease in large groups of animals, it ensures they can be kept in much more confined conditions than would be the case naturally. However, there’s another big advantage from the producer’s point of view. Antibiotics also speed up the rate of weight increase, meaning that animals can go to market earlier. With all the economic pressures these days, it’s easy to see how everyone in the food production chain benefits from this.
Unfortunately, what isn’t taken into account is that residues of these antibiotics build up in the animal – mainly in fatty tissues – AND this is then passed on to whoever then eats it. It’s now being suggested that this is one factor in increasing antibiotic resistance in both animals and humans.
At the same time, the diet these animals are fed is very different to that eaten naturally. Left to their own devices, cattle would graze outside all year on a variety of different plants. Chickens would forage for a variety of foods from worms and bugs to greenery and discarded corn at harvest time.
However, what they’re actually fed these days is very different and, in both cases, centres around cereals and vegetable oils. Why? Again, the answer is very similar to that for antibiotics. They maximise weight gain and, even better from the producer’s point of view, are much cheaper to buy than the foods the animal would naturally eat.
Unfortunately, this “new” diet results in meat having a much higher fat content which, again, is passed on to whoever eats it. Not to mention a different nutritional content. So, if you’re eating chicken, pork or salmon believing it to be low in fat and healthier for you then you’re being misled. A quick visual clue can be seen in the meat appearing much more fatty and “watery” when raw, with and a noticeable white residue oozing – and not just from fat – coming from it during cooking. Aside from being less appetising, it’s now becoming clear that meats produced using foods high in vegetable oil have an impact on the health of those eating them.
And if you thought this doesn’t apply to plant based foods, think again. We’ve written about the damaging effects of the widespread use of glyphosates in the production of cereal based crops in particular, as well as fruit and vegetables which can be found here and here. Not only is it stored in the crop itself, so passed on to whoever then eats it – animal or human – but also has devastating effects on the surrounding wildlife and environment. Air, soil and water.
Similar examples can be found in many of the other chemicals used in the production of fruit and vegetables. And here’s something that may surprise you. Many foods are sprayed with chemicals just before – or immediately after – harvesting, to help increase the travel time to the supermarket or time they can be kept in storage before being sent to the supermarket. These are absorbed through their “skin” – for want of a better word – and then into the tissues below, to be eaten by whoever consumes it.
There are lots of other examples we could give, but don’t want to put your off your food completely (!). However, we trust you’ve got the message. Once again, the solution is simple, BUT means paying more attention to what we’re putting in our trolleys in the supermarket. That’s if we want to keep using them at all. It also confirms another age old maxim. You get what you pay for. Put another way, ANY cheap food is only cheap because it was cheaply produced. Yes, we know it sounds harsh, but it’s true.
Unfortunately, sometime in the last century – goodness, that sounds a long time ago (!)- we lost touch with our food. Switched our focus from quality to quantity. More is better is definitely the modern maxim. Food is no longer produced locally, by people we know – if not ourselves – but factory farmed, often on the other side of the world.
While the focus is finally starting to shift back again, locally produced food is far from the norm, with many people in for a shock when discovering just how much it actually costs to produce food in a healthy and natural way. However, as the ever increasing supply chains start to groan – and fail – the added impetus for change is there; we simply have to make the decision with our wallets. And this is where a sea change is needed.
If we continue thinking in terms of quantity, then the change will seem insurmountable. However, there’s another factor that can help us on our way. The higher the nutritional value of food, the less of it our bodies need to get the nutrition they need. In fact, it’s been found that poor quality food is one of the major drivers for over eating and obesity. So, looking at it another way, as better quality food is produced and eaten, we need less of it. Suddenly, making the change doesn’t seem so daunting.
So, where are we going with this?
We’d just like you to think more about HOW the food you put in your trolley is produced. How the food it ate was produced. And so on down the line. Remember that quality wins over quantity every day, in every aspect of life, not just food. It’s always about what’s on your plate, not how much.
As always, the choice is yours.
Picture by unknown author
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