Breathe in the clear autumn air
and know that spring is hiding in the fallen leaves…..
Out of death comes new life.
Humans have become so out of touch with the natural rhythms of life in symbiosis with other creatures. We seal our homes against the outside air, add preservatives to our food and refrigerate/freeze/nuke it into oblivion, blast our eyeballs with light when we should be in bed, eat food out of season, and insist that humans feed themselves with highly processed fake foods even when it sickens and eventually kills them.
Traditional cultures hunted, gathered, and cultivated anything that was nourishing. Some peoples ate mostly starchy vegetables supplemented with fish and fatty coconuts, others ate mostly fat from the northern animals; each group ate what was available and figured out methods for naturally preserving foods for lean times. All of them had abundant energy for activities unaided by machinery.
Today many people eat mostly processed foods and have suffered greatly from it. Not only have they lost an intimate connection to Nature’s rhythms they have lost the knowledge of what food is, how it’s grown, how it’s harvested and prepared, even how real foods taste. When children don’t recognize a fruit or vegetable or understand where milk comes from is it any wonder that they are becoming diabetic and obese at younger and younger ages?My recent attendance at the Weston A Price annual conference (this year in Valley Forge PA, or was it King of Prussia?) enabled me to listen to independent researchers, meet with vendors of truly natural foods (often small farmers or bakers), and dine on meals prepared from fresh local ingredients according the Weston Price guidelines for traditionally prepared foods. I must say that everything was delicious and while I really stuffed myself I never felt bloated like I do sometimes after eating out. Indeed, I feel fully nourished for the first time in a long time, like I would after eating a meal prepared by my MomMom (grandmother) on the family farm; she might go out in the yard and catch one of the chickens (you know what happens next) for dinner – chicken fried in lard, potatoes and peas grown right there. While I was upset that a chicken had to die I could not disagree that fresh chicken (or eggs, or veggies) tasted better.
Looking back over my life, I’ve noticed that at various times when my diet was less than optimal I would have “issues”: tooth decay (I admit I have always had a sweet tooth), headaches, sour moods. I always felt better physically and emotionally when my diet was cleaner. But something changed gradually over the years. Healthy eating began to have its definition redefined away from a variety of real foods that included whole fresh milk and other traditional foods and towards a more industrial and even pharmaceutical approach. It began to be said that it was impossible to get all of the required nutrients from food and we should add supplements. Traditional fats like lard and tallow, butter, whole milk, and even eggs began to be demonized.
Funny, the more I tried to eat from the new definition of “healthy” the fatter I got. Though I’ve never really been overweight (I was an aerobics instructor and lifted heavy weights during the week and rode my bike on weekends) I went from 105 pounds to 130 pounds in less than 10 years. I thought I was eating right, limiting my fat consumption and eating several small meals per day, eating protein bars full of soy because they were supposed to be good for me. Funnier still is that I began to shed the weight after becoming a dedicated yoga practitioner, giving up weight training and aerobics in favor of the Ashtanga method.
Once menopause hit my body went haywire: going off birth control pills (“you need to go through menopause ‘naturally’ ” said my gynecologist) allowed my body to tell me in no uncertain terms that it had no idea what ‘natural’ meant. Long story short, I ended up in surgery having my fibroids, endometriosis, and ovarian cysts removed. Embarking on a long quest to find out why I fell so far out of balance led me to the study of Ayurveda and the discovery of the powerful work of Dr. Weston A. Price, a 1930′s dentist who went looking for the answers to “why are all my patients so sick?”.
In a nutshell, it’s the diet. Independent research since at least the ’30′s shows that when people eat their traditional diets (whatever they are) and avoid processed “foods” they are healthy and happy people and rarely if ever fall prey to the diseases th which we have become accustomed. But when they begin eating a Westernized, processed, refined diet these same peoples fall prey to obesity, heart disease, mental illness, tooth decay, and more.
This is a reversible condition. Returning to natural foodways and relearning the wisdom traditions of following the cycles of sun and moon, getting to know the small family farmers and how our food crops and animals are raised will raise our consciousness about good food and lead us to remember the sacrifice of the living creatures that nourish us. We can taste with every bite the difference between the meat from a healthy animal raised humanely and allowed its natural behaviors and the meat from an unhealthy, unhappy animal raised in the cramped foul quarters of a factory “farm”.
And since we are what we eat, we can begin to understand the genesis of anger, greed, and discontent in the karmic fruit of our willful disobedience to the laws of Nature. In returning to our ancient traditions of honoring those we eat (from both animal and plant kingdoms) we will slowly relearn how to bring new life out of death.