A word or two about food and nutrition. It is a long road from the first suck of the teat to the last supper. I daresay that the former is probably the superior meal of the two. Have you ever wondered what your last meal on this earth will be? No? Good, for if you had answered in the affirmative, you would have betrayed a morbid streak in your personality which would mar your usual panache much like a bit of jam on your favourite jeans.
Never before in the history of mankind has there been an era such as now, wherein we are absolutely bombarded with information about food and nutrition. Please bear in mind as you read, that I am not a paleo-nutritionist, nor am I a doctor. My credentials are my stomach, my mind and my eyes.
It is popular among experts [from the Latin experiri, 'to try'] to churn out articles saying that we must eat this and that in these quantities with this frequency. It is experts who receive grants from the pharmaceutical arms of chemical combines and cartels and from the five food producers. Remember the Five Food Groups we were forced to memorize and re-educate our parents with. The choice of words was either intentional or an incredible coincidence.
If the word expert came from the idea of a guy trying things out, I will go ahead and put myself in that category. As I was saying, people who have put themselves and their parents in debt for decades to receive instruction in a field that narrows in scope the higher they go; that person will basically do what ever the suit and tie with the cheque tells them to do. If they are told to find that coffee causes hardening of the nostrils, it will be found. Using innocent rats, monkeys and people to do so.
They may be told at another time to find that some component of coffee is so important to the human physiology as to render it absolutely essential. Behind the scenes, agribusiness plays the commodity markets like a violin. Coupled with the weather control technologies extant since the seventies, the stock market of food can be tweaked all over the place for profit as well as for less noble purposes, which are not the thrust of this essay.
It is popular in book-length propaganda written by experts on the subjects of food and nutrition to point out that if the history of the Earth was a foot long sub sandwich, for example, that the time occupied by homo sapiens would be only a shred of lettuce. This may or may not be true, but let us look at the direction this graphic illustration sends our thoughts. First, it may occur to the clever, that given the foregoing, it is also absolutely true that in terms of a single human lifetime, millions of years is a mighty long time.
Man is an omnivore, which I deduced from my own teeth, before professional dental care decimated their numbers. Man lived all over the earth and whether or not he came streaming out of one valley in Africa is beside my point. In all the varied climates and terrains he occupied he ate whatever the heck he could dig up, catch, pick, pluck or grow. Sometimes there was a lot of this and sometimes a lot of that. Sometimes this ran out and sometimes that wasn't to be had for love nor cowrie shells. We obviously didn't die out. Remember, excepting the various ice ages there was no refrigeration to speak of, that is, it was seasonal at best. Yet we remained.
Experts are also fond of telling us about evolution. I put forth that we humans adapted to a variable food supply both in quantity, kind and quality. As people settled for very long ( in human terms) stretches in particular regions, they may have adapted in special ways to a more constant and unvaried food supply.
I would also put forth that because of this legacy, we are best suited to a come by chance diet. Once we start adding the multivitamins and such, the trouble begins. One thing we know is that short of total mutation, physiological change occurs very slowly. I posit that the relatively rapid changes in food sources and availability coupled with the propaganda about what we should eat is the cause of much illness in the world today. Our bodies are not geared to have abundance of everything.
That is the physical aspect of food. There is another aspect, equally important in a real physical way. That is the spiritual aspect of nutrition. Let's say someone beats the tar out of you and then gives you a cookie. You will derive no nutrition from that cookie. Why? Because of where your mind is at when you eat that particular cookie. If you steal a cow and cook it, the sustenance you will draw from all those steaks, is not on par with the sustenance you would draw from the same amount of meat, had you raised the cow or hunted it down in the wild.
This is to say that you bring a very real component to every bite of food you eat. If this is hard to grasp, imagine it. If I gave you a dish of some vegetable and told you that it was hand dug from jungle -hidden plateaus by seven virgins at eleven thousand feet at midnight using jade trowels then cooked in crystal vessels with water saved from the first rains of a thousand seasons by shape-shifting shark priests and was meant to be the food of the ones chosen to find the white panther and that it was cool to wash it down with a beer, you would eat it with gusto and be ready to kick a bear's ass if he looked askance at you.
This is the power of the placebo. This is your power. Use it when you eat. Enjoy your food. If your mind is chock-full of the scribblings of idiots in the form of charts and graphs you will not visualize the tangerine you just had in your fruit-cocktail cup as the fruit of a young tree growing a stone's throw from the very house where Ib'n Rashid broke wind. The same tree whose branches he used to climb the city walls after returning from his self-imposed exile of more than forty years due to the embarrassment he suffered when said wind was broken in the presence of his beloved betrothed. The very same tree he clung to under her window, now a middle-aged and very wise man, listening to the tinkle of cups and plates of brass. Her voice hadn't changed except to become even more ethereal. Wait... her mother, father and the Sharif were also at the table. Ib'n leaned in close as his love of loves spoke, “Everyone, remember the time Ib'n Rashid came to propose to me and broke wind?” Their laughter sent him away again this time to the land of lemons, oregano and red mullets.
If you consume your precious food with the literature of labeling and such in your head, you are already starving, dear friend. Bad cholesterol, white fat, good cholesterol, brown fat, gluten, amino-peptides and free radicals will never replace a Guatemalan truck-driver's breakfast of huevos machacados con tomates y pimientos del bosco, tortillas, frijoles negras con queso de cabra y limon, cafe negro con azuacar rojo y zumo de pina fresca cooked by an ancient woman on a mud stove and served by a young beauty in a hand-made dress and paid for with actual silver coins.
Thus, put something good in your head to use in activating the nutrition of the food that you do eat. Avoid obvious offal. If you want a pet organ to care for and worry about, how about the liver? Squeeze it out once a year with some dandelion root or something similar. Don't annoy it with things that make it work too hard. You know what those are. Take care of his colleagues, the kidneys. The food we are eating is full of all kinds of crap. It is unavoidable. It is intentional. That is where the aforementioned organs come in. Keep your filters clean, hold on to the rope and ride the bull.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.