Thursday, January 19, 2012
It all started with being reminded by a friend on spark of a great runner who eats a very simple diet. Simpler than most people in this country would eat. But more about that tomorrow.
Then I thought of the joke about the child that doesn't want to eat what's on her plate. The mother answers: There are lots of poor children that would love to have that and the child answering: Well, they can have it! I used to think this was at least slightly funny but with poverty levels in this country, one of the richest countries in the world, at a new high and the lines at food banks longer than ever it does not seem funny any more.
I've been thinking about the benefits of a paleo diet vs. the benefits of a raw vegan diet lately, knowing that both have a lot of benefits over the typical American processed crap diet. I was tempted to try both for a while and learn about them from experience. I believe both can be very tasty and very healthy if correctly prepared. Both can also be very expensive, especially if one wants to stay with organic foods primarily which is suggested.
Avoiding beans and grains (paleo) cuts out what is the least expensive kinds of protein for most people to buy. Raw vegan relies heavily on large quantities of raw vegetables and fruits that are very expensive during some seasons and in some climates most of the year.
Getting away from grains and beans is a luxury that few people in this world and increasingly fewer people in this country have, especially if they want to avoid the heavily polluted, conventional, mass-produced foods that are still the norm in most large supermarkets.
Anyone who does not know what I'm talking about watch the documentary Food Inc. (it's free to watch on youtube)
I'm wondering if all the foods we eat that are not essential fall in the area of gluttony, an old-fashioned sounding Biblical term that means overindulgence of food or drink. Gluttony is considered a sin in the Bible. A sin is not just something that harms other people but anything that we do to harm ourselves. Sin is often defined as anything that goes against our real needs or anything that hurts us. And then there is that verse that the wages of sin is death. Many people think of that in a spiritual sense but maybe the more direct meaning is physical.
Many "refined" foods used to be reserved for the upper class because they were too expensive for anyone else. Meat was reserved for special occasion like weddings or the presence of special guests. This is still the case in many cultures around the world.
On the other hand there are people groups that live in climates where you can't grow any vegetables. Most of the diet is based on meat, sometimes seafood.
When I look at what grows around me (in Eastern Washington) most of the year it is grains and beans (wheat, barley and garbanzos are mass-produced) but our climate will also allow growing a variety of cold-season vegetables and some things like tomatoes and other frost-sensitive plants for a short time of the year. These things are the obvious choice for food if I want to buy local. Many people keep chickens or ducks for meat and eggs and many people in our area raise beef cattle on grass. There is a growing number of people who raise dairy cows or goats and sell raw or minimally processed milk. In winter the only foods that are local are meat, eggs, dairy, root vegetables and fruits that store well like apples or vegetables that are extremely frost-hardy. Many people buy vegetables frozen for almost half of the year.
What if I limited myself (and our family) to eating only what we need for proper nutrition? How much money could I save (and how much money or food could I donate to the food bank or give to people who need it in my neighborhood) if I ate just to meet my needs and reserved special foods for truly special occasions like Christmas, Birthdays, and other rare occasions?
What if everyone did this? Would our economy collapse, pop like an over-inflated balloon?