What to Eat? Ask Your Body, Ask Nature
We have a huge array of food choices available to us now – some great, some not. It used to be that humans ate what they could, grown or produced locally at that time of year. Now we can get grapes from South America in the winter and apples in the summer. We eat balsamic vinegar transported from Italy and pineapple from Thailand even though we grow plenty here on Maui.
We see all kinds of technologies and delivery systems that push production and availability way past what Nature provides with an eye trained on profit. It’s hard to hear what our bodies call for when the voice of big Agribusiness shouts louder. Walking down the aisles in a large grocery store, I often ask, “Is this actually food?” We can reach for a more sustainable balance by respecting and working with the natural intelligence of the personal biosphere (our fabulous bodies), the local biosphere (the land, people, and life around us) and the global biosphere (the beautiful planet that is our only home). Put simply, listen to your body, grow some food, and go big picture with your choices and purchases.
Aim for close, fresh, and simple
The new food order has to become a big-picture synergy between modern technology and traditional horticulture – smaller-scale farming with a healthy respect for Nature. In the mountains of Peru, people have eaten a staple diet of beans, corn and tubers for centuries. Their bodies have evolved with the plants in the area and what grows there sustains them well. They didn’t expect to eat food out of its season. To the extent that they’ve begun eating processed foods from afar, their health has declined. Nature provides plenty. As we shift to gratitude for the healthy food that is here now, rather than insisting that we have every choice the world offers at all times, that simplicity and synergy will heal us.
You don’t have to join a group to eat according to nature and more sustainably. This Huffington Post article gives you 5 Reasons to Eat Local. Take a close look at your food choices and ask, “Did people eat this 100 years ago?” If not, you might not want to eat it.
What does that come down to in your daily practice? There is no one-size-fits-all answer to what is the best diet, but fresh, whole foods are generally better for you than processed or derivative foods. Eating what’s grown and produced close to home reduces the need for preservatives, reduces energy costs for transportation, and keeps money in the local economy. Ask: What’s in season? What’s growing nearby? What is my body asking for now? Was this food produced with love and consciousness? When you use those answers to guide your choices, you can’t go wrong.
Don’t Over Think It
Our bodies have many cooperative systems to keep the whole working smoothly if we surf with the natural flow. To do that, you have to tune in to your internal guidance system. One easy way to do that is to grow your own food – even a little bit of it – and appreciate the gentle cooperation as you nurture a plant and it gives you food. We’re lucky on Maui to have such great growing conditions and there’s a huge benefit to tuning back in to the plants and cycles that sustain us. Even if you live in an apartment, growing herbs and vegetables in pots on your windowsill or lanai will help reorient you to the bounty and joy of living in harmony with nature.
Look at what you eat over weeks and seasons rather than just the “Standard Daily Requirement.” Government standards come from aggregatized data from many bodies, not yours. What your body needs shifts constantly. When we take the same supplements or medications routinely over years, we may be habituating our body to dependence. To achieve healthy balance, we need to aim for the Minimum Necessary Intervention (MNI ;-), which respects our body’s tremendous innate intelligence, and keep asking those questions… What do I need now? …And now? Often the answer is “I need less.” Our bodies have an amazing capacity to heal and adapt; if we work with them, we can come to balance beautifully. The more we focus on How we want it to be, the more we will bring it into being.
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** This article first appeared in Living Aloha Magazine, May/June 2105. www.livingaloha.net