Tuesday, August 2, 2011

August 2nd, 2011 - Day 24 of 60

My babbling on yesterday about weather patterns around the U.S. and around the world led me to think about an even bigger picture. As anyone who has read this tripe over the last few weeks knows, I'm big on certain topics.  Some I care about quite passionately while others simply intrigue me.  Along the lines of the latter place on the spectrum is the concept of the "natural human diet".  Since I don't really know where we came from and how we all got to different places, I don't want to get too dogmatic or too esoteric.  People have lived on this planet for a long enough time that they start to get an idea of how things work. 

When one is brought up in a world where there is space travel of a sort, automobiles, computers, appliances, electricity, satellite communications and seemingly endless petroleum, it is very, very hard to wrap one's head around how life has been for 99% of human history.  We are living in a golden age of existence.  Some would argue that these are dark times.  I think both arguments have merit.  For most Westerners, we are a people who don't know what it is like to lack resources on a grand scale for long periods of time. Yes, during wars and various crises there can be shortages of certain items, but we've generally enjoyed plentiful resources for a couple hundred years or so.  If those resources were not distributed fairly, that is a political issue, not a resource issue.  Even in our more "enlightened" world, resource use and allocation is unfair.  If you look at man as an animal, then no one should really be surprised.  The strongest lion wins the right to mate.  The strongest animal gets the best portion of the kill.  It is brutal, but it is often how nature behaves.  If one looks at man as a holy, special creature, it should make one weep.  We, man, look upon ourselves as distinct, set apart, destined and special.  Still, if we are just part of this ecosystem, I'd have to say we are the biggest problem on the planet.  That conversation is for another time.

We are several billion strong and growing.  We look differently, speak differently and believe differently.  Yet, at our core, we are the same.  We desire the same things and strive for them.  We want to live, love, laugh, relate, experience, grow and learn.  We do it in different ways, but we want these things.  Beyond the more philosophical portions of our lives, the basics take up a lot of our time.  We need to sleep, eat, drink, rest, clean, etc.  The biological maintenance is high.  In the modern world, that vast amount of maintenance time and effort is reduced to a fraction of its historical predecessor.  We don't have to wander to find food.  We don't have to stalk and hunt animals.  We don't have to wonder what is in season.  We don't have to compete with other animals for that food (although that last point is arguable).  We don't have to worry that a broken leg or a cut might be the end of us.  We don't have to struggle to clothe ourselves.  The list goes on. You can fill in the blanks.  We are a people who have the luxury of stores, appliances, kitchen supplies, dishes, running water, trash service and, most of all, a petroleum-based economy that lets us ship things from all over the world and then process them into useful items to keep us alive.  On the whole, that is of some benefit to man.  The fact that world population up to 1800 was under 1 billion people tells the tale.  From 1800 onward the growth has been astronomical.  Thank fossil fuel for making the work of growing food much easier.  Too bad it didn't help us grow wisdom as well.

So, here we are.  A group of people who have pretty much anything we want at any time at the tips of our fingers.  How does that affect us as a culture?  How does it change those parts of our unique character?  For example, imagine driving across the United States in the 40's and 50's.  That is the age looked upon by many as our cultural apex. The Interstate Highway system was just a concept, so the existing U.S. Highways were a bit smaller and easier to manage.  Auto travel was growing, but still manageable compared to today's insanity.  You'd drive through the South and experience many unique cultural foods and sights.  The same held true for all the parts of our nation.  We'd not yet succumbed to cultural homogenization thanks to TV, marketing and corporate expansion.  You'd stop to eat at a diner owned by the person who was behind the counter or working the grill.  They had foods that were unusual to you, but good.  There were few recognizable brand logos as things were more regional.  It was a thrill to travel in your own nation and even in your own state as it was all a fresh experience.  Today, if I dropped you on a main business road in Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Mexico or California, you wouldn't know where you were except for some geographic differences.  Each street looks the same as the next street:  McDonald's, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Exxon, Dunkin' Donuts.  Yes, there are still a few cultural and geographical niches, but overall we are a homogeneous nation.  We dress the same, we watch the same shows, we eat the same foods, drive the same cars and know the same people via Facebook.  Again, I am not totally badmouthing this direction in our culture, I am just examining it. 

So, in regard to Rebooting and what comes afterward, I often wonder about the food we eat.  We eat what we eat because our parents led us in a certain direction.  Their parents led them, etc.  The modern diet was a response to harsh lack and back-breaking labor.  No one wants to work in the field hours a day.  Few would want to chase down game for days.  Do you want to risk losing your year's crop or herd to freak weather or theft or pestilence?  No one would.  Nature shows that if we diversify and expand we have a better chance of survival.   At one point there was the adventurous risk of eating the blue plate special in a strange diner back before chain restaurants became the staple.  Sometimes it is a home run, sometimes it is a strikeout.  Risk and reward go hand in hand.  We've decided to push risk aside and gain the comfort of knowing a Big Mac in Camden, New Jersey tastes just like the one we eat in Boise, Idaho.  Again, some unique items remain, but they are the great exception and not the rule.

This should make one imagine how one should eat.  I am not speaking in biochemical terms, I am speaking in cultural terms.  We are not discussing the "optimal diet" arrived at via test tubes, blood tests, gas chronographs and electromagnetic scans.  I am talking about standing in your back yard and seeing what there is to eat.  We are able to Reboot in the winter because produce comes our way via modern farming and transportation.  We get to eat apples 365 days a year rather than for two or three months when they are in season locally.  The place on the graph of human history you position us makes the situation either more or less "clean".  10,000 years ago, just as we were starting to come to grips with agriculture, we just ate what we found.  Estimates say there were probably a few million of us on the planet at that time.  You found food growing on the road, on a tree, in the ground or running by.  That was your job: find food and live.  Later we learned to control the growth of plants.  You found your food mainly where you planted it.  You also looked around for things you couldn't grow.  Your job was varied: grow food, find food and live.  Today, it seems like our job is to work to buy food and then live.  We are disconnected from that which gives us life.  Fortunately, we don't have to strive to that extent, yet perhaps that striving gave us more satisfaction?  Certainly our food, regardless of how we gathered it, was healthier than what we eat today.  We are a global people with global tastes.  While this is not in accord with nature, it makes our lives more predictable and secure.

There was a movement years ago called the "Macrobiotic" movement.  Macrobiotic means "Big Life". The movement started, in general, around the 1790's with a German doctor name Hufeland.  One hundred years later the Japanese embraced the movement a bit more and really were the influential spark in that effort. In a nutshell, you eat what grows near you.  You eat it fresh.  You eat it in season.  You don't eat too much of it.  You avoid most animal products as they tend to intensify and concentrate toxins.  You eat with the seasons. In all things you strive for balance.  In the past, this is how we ate because this is the only way we could. We likely ate more animal products as it was a necessity, but you would usually eat what was there because there was no store.  As civilization grew, the convenience grew.  We moved from one of the creatures in the cycle of life and became the overpowering, dominant force .  We chose which animals lived and died.  We chose which plants were grown and avoided.  I think it went to our heads.

So, when your Reboot is over, keep those things in mind.  Do you have local foods?  Do you eat what is from your area or do you feel the whole planet is local?  Do you eat with the seasons?  Should we eat that way?   What is a good balance?  Is McDonald's once a week part of a balanced life?  Perhaps it is if you you ate there five times a week beforehand.  If we look at ourselves as part of this ecosystem, are we striving to fit in or to overwhelm?  Do we nurture or do we dominate?  In the age of petroleum, is the whole world local? Do we look for sustainable life or consumption-driven depletion?  How do our food choices contribute to that?  Will I ever stop asking stupid questions?

I am 40% through the 60 days.

Weight: 150.7 lbs.

Food: Fruit/Veg Smoothie With Hemp Seeds

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