You are what you eat: when was the last time you really thought about what that meant? Judging by what’s in the grocery store aisles, we are a nation of people made up of highly processed, sugary, boxed, canned, bagged, junk.

Many people bemoan the “high cost” of food but don’t consider the end results: obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cavities, susceptibility to illness, and other ills of “modern” civilization. Our government (and others) fixate on access to medical insurance and health care for our neediest citizens but have neglected to insure that all have access to healthy food, proper exercise, and the knowledge required not only to take advantage of these vital links in our lifestyle chain but to understand why they are important.

It’s important to consider how much is removed from a plant (or animal) when it’s processed. Scientists study the nutritional value of various foods but will never know everything there is to know – it wasn’t that long ago that no one knew that some foods exerted an effect on the hormones, particularly estrogen (soy, for instance). It’s now becoming known that the active ingredient in a medicinal plant may not have the same effects when isolated – the traditional uses were usually for the whole plant or some portion of the whole plant (ie the root, or leaves and stems) and it was harvested at a particular time and prepared in a particular way (and the traditional Ayurvedic method and many shamanic traditions also include prayers so that the plant would have its healing effect the right way).

The Vedic tradition from which Ayurveda springs states that “we are born of food” (TaittiriyaUpanishadic verse). and Ayurveda considers food to be the first step in creating the tissues of the body: rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), meda (fat), asthi (bone), majja (marrow), and shukra or artava (reproductive tissue). Any deficiency at any step in the process can wreak havoc on the tissues above and below in the chain, as all are connected. So the first step in healing ourselves from inside out begins with consuming pure food, whole food as much as possible so that the things we don’t know about yet can synergistically work to create the strongest tissues.

Good food need not be expensive: membership in a Community Supported Agriculture farm, while requiring an upfront expenditure, brings families a huge amount of healthy, usually organic, produce druing the growing season (and sometimes year-round. My membership this year cost me around $500 upfront, but that money will bring me enough fresh veggies and fruit to feed four people for 6 months – that’s $83 a month folks, track what you spend a la carte in the grocery store on the same stuff for six months and then see what it comes to. The middle man is eliminated, the farmer makes more, you get more, you eat more healthy. How to help the poor? How about community co-ops, churches, charities, etc. combining forces to help subsidize CSA farm produce for communities that don’t have decent grocery stores in their communities and may not be able to travel to farmers markets?

Perhaps it’s time to begin a new revolution, one that helps those of us who know the benefits of eating real food teach those who don’t how to take charge of their own health; a new foundation created to attract donations specifically to purchase CSA shares and distribute this healing food to those in need of it, to hire teachers to instruct them in how to properly prepare it for maximum benefit, and to build communities around the principle of “you are what you eat – a whole person”.