Naturopath Brenda Rogers on what a diet filled with cheap non-wholefoods is costing you and the planet.
Have you ever stood in the supermarket isle looking at the price of the organic version of the food you want, and thought: “Oh my goodness, why is it so expensive?!”
If you’re not a committed organic, wholefood consumer and you still reel over the cost of wholefoods, I’d love to share with you some important things to consider next time you hesitate at the check out.
(I should add at this point that when I say ‘healthy’, I mean organic, sustainably and humanely produced, locally grown, fresh, unadulterated food.)
The impact of chemicals, medications, fertilizers and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) on the environment
Commercialised food production uses chemicals to kill pests and synthetic fertilizers to artificially accelerate the growth of foods. Pharmaceutical drugs are used to deal with the cramped, unhygienic conditions factory farmed animals and fish are forced to live in. Genetically modified seed that is resistant to pesticides, drought or other adverse conditions is sold to farmers who have no other choice but to buy them. Seed saving is not allowed so that farmers must buy new seed each year.
The use of chemicals, medications, fertilizers and GMO all have significant impacts on the environment. For example, massive amounts of effluent from animal farms can overflow and contaminate waterways with unhealthy bacteria, risking the health of those living in the surrounding environment. Chemical run-off pools in rivers and lakes eventually ending up in the sea where it creates “dead zones” – areas miles wide where no fish or wildlife is able to live. Beneficial bacteria (in soil), beneficial insects, birds and animals are often collateral damage for this type of farming. Also, pesticides, heavy metals and drug residues may enter the food chain and poison animals, human beings, particularly children, and kill off the microbiome that lives within us, causing all manner of health problems.
The impact of outsourcing instead of local farming
Our incessant desire for more and better without any awareness of the consequences means our food production is being outsourced to other countries to the detriment of our own farming and food manufacturing industry. Rural towns and farming communities shrivel and die (and the farmers with them). Even the people we outsource to are often forced to destroy and poison their own environments so that the Western world can have what it desires – coffee, bread, even super foods. A look at the recent series on TV, I Bought a Rainforest beautifully illustrates the point that feeding affluent countries is destroying rainforests.
A peek at the scathing documentary, Food Inc, will illuminate you forever on the evils of factory-farmed animals. Another insightful and damning documentary is Vanishing of the Bees indicting systemic pesticides as the culprit for the world wide phenomena called Bee Colony Collapse disorder. I strongly encourage you to watch these documentaries even though you probably don’t want to! Watch them because you love your children and care about what you eat! You will be shocked and heartbroken but you will learn so much.
Buying nutrient dense, locally grown, sustainably farmed food would arguably prevent not only the tragedy occurring in our farming communities (I’m talking about suicides) both here and in countries such as India, but it would also have a massive beneficial effect on the health of human beings everywhere.
Nutrients are the raw materials for cellular health and healthy cells means healthy mind and body. Sad, hungry and deficient cells leads to lethargy, apathy, immorality (a bit of a stretch I admit but true I believe) and all manner of signs and symptoms that can eventually lead to disease.
Cheap food is cheap for a reason. Mainly because it’s made up of cheap ingredients. The cheapest ingredients on the planet are mass produced foods such as canola and vegetable oils, sugars such as corn sugar, white salt and refined grains. Foods made with these ingredients taste really yummy (in a very short term, unsatisfying kind of way), tend to be addictive, have very low nutrient density, last a long time on the shelf and seem to cause all manner of damage to our bodies. This may be because they are not real foods, they are food extracts or isolates. None of the balancing compounds such as fibre that the body likes to have are present.
A cynic would say that the food industry keeps the pharmaceutical industry in business. I tend to agree as I witness waves and waves of people becoming ill and resorting to drugs to medicate their symptoms. Symptoms that are simply messages from the body telling us that we are not treating it well. Perhaps we should listen, pay attention and take intelligent action rather than masking these messages. As it was once explained to me, it’s a bit like putting a smiley face over the fuel gauge in your car and wondering what’s wrong when you run out of fuel!
A nature-based philosophy
Finally, what you support when you invest in healthy food is an alternative way of thinking, from, “human beings are supreme over all beings and have the right to dominate nature in any way he sees fit” to perhaps a more Buddhist-like approach of treating all others with kindness and compassion. When we understand that nature is a system delicately balanced by all the components of that system then we’ll realize that the bees, the birds, the butterflies, the soil, the rivers, the oceans, the chickens, I could go on, are all important and essential to the wholeness of things. We need to be kind to them.
Perhaps, in the end, even the question “is healthy food expensive” is redundant. It implies we have a choice. As Time Magazine journalist Bryan Walsh puts it this way “we don’t have the luxury of philosophizing about food. With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later”.
Add to that the exorbitant cost of being sick and the expense of healthy food becomes a non-issue. It truly may be the best investment you ever make but if you don’t make it now, don’t worry, eventually we will have no other choice.
About Brenda Rogers
Adv Dip Nat, Adv Dip Nut, Dip Herbal Medicine & Homeopathy Life Coach (PCC), MBA, Cert Yoga. Brenda has a special interest in the science of nutrition with a deep fascination for the wisdom of traditional food practices. She is a passionate advocate for home cooking, kitchen medicine and whole foods and has travelled to many interesting parts of the world such as Bhutan, Zimbabwe, Brazil, Nepal, USA and Indonesia to partake in their traditional medicine practices and culinary delights! Brenda assists people to become their “own best nutritionist”. In her practice she works with weight loss issues, hormonal complaints and mood disorders amongst others. She offers naturopathic consultations and testing including live blood analysis and bio-impedance analysis for body composition and cellular health. She also offers coaching sessions for those wanting to delve deeper into their health complaint and recovery process. Brenda Practices at Sivanna Health (Castle Hill) and Radiance Centre (Sydney).