Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Nutrition: Signs of our times
Lets talk about food and nutrition. This is not going to be an educational post, but rather a rant about how ignorant people in our country have become. I hope that if you can read my blog you have learned the basics of nutrition. Our bodies process water, carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals and turn them into energy. This is really not what I want to cover, though.
What I want to discuss is how to feed masses of people a healthy diet for a relatively low cost. First of all lets look at history. Whenever I read books about the way people lived long ago I am amazed. The idea that people had to do so much work just to get food is overwhelming to this pampered woman living a life of such relative ease. I've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series to my girls, and it reminds me again how much I take for granted.
Lets take a look at the Native Americans (or Indians as I call them growing up). This land was teeming with food when they lived here, and they were the original conservationists. They knew where their food came from because if they wanted to eat something they had to kill it, or grow it themselves. They believed that if they killed an animal, every part of it should be used. They used the bones for needles, and buttons. They used the fat for lamp oil or grease. They used the meat for food. They used the stomach lining and intestines for string. They tanned the hide and used the fur and leather to clothe themselves and keep them warm.
There were Native Americans all across this land long before the Europeans settled here. They thrived here. Now, I'm not going to say they didn't war among themselves, or have periods of famine, or die of diseases. I'm also not going to say that every one of them was a conservationist, or that they somehow missed the curse of Adam. They were not perfect, just different. Over the hundreds of years that they inhabited our country, somehow they were able to survive.
Now lets move forward a bit to the European settlement of our country. The colonists worked together to create cities. Cities were certainly more convenient. The more people there were working together, the easier it was to get things accomplished. One man could plant a single crop on his land and trade it with another man who grew something else. Those who didn't enjoy farming could set up shops and trade their craftsmanship in return for food grown by someone else. Cities also were dirty and crowded. The more people, the more rules they had to come up with to make sure that those more prone to give into their sinful nature were kept in check. The building of houses and shops close together for convenience meant that some of the more natural areas had to be destroyed. Wild animals became more scarce in these areas, and domesticated animals for food had to be raised, just like crops.
Now don't go jumping to conclusions. I'm all for cities. I happen to enjoy living in one.
As the east coast began to fill up with people, bold frontiersmen (and women) started moving out west. Transportation was limited and road were often crude or non-existent. In the Little House books we learn that pioneer families were limited in how much they could carry away from civilization on their search for less populated locales. Usually this consisted of a wooden box on wheels approximately 10 feet by 3 1/2 feet. Everything that they couldn't fit in the box had to stay behind. This would be comparable to loading up a 15 passenger van and making sure that you could still fit your family inside comfortably. (This could turn into a whole new post if I don't stay on topic here).
We know from basic school history books that many of the pioneers got greedy when they saw all the animals roaming wild out in the prairies and further west. So greedy in fact that they hunted the buffalo almost to extinction.
Now, to keep this shorter than it otherwise could be let's fast-forward to today. Apparently, we've discovered in our modern age that meat is not good for you. We've learned that these poor stupid settlers, you know, the ones who made their own furniture, built log cabins, grew their own food, and killed and butchered their own meat were eating all the wrong foods. The only thing they did right was to avoid refined sugars (oh wait, those weren't even available until the industrial age). Now, in our age of enlightenment, our nation is getting fatter and fatter, and no matter how much we try to enlighten the masses, only a small minority seem to be able to stay healthy. From everything that I've studied in history there seems to be a disconnect in logic here.
We are afraid of eating genetically modified corn, but we're taught that the majority of our nutritional intake should be carbs. If everyone in the country was getting the amount of carbs we are supposed to be eating, then we wouldn't be able to grow enough food to keep up with the demand.
Then, culturally we've become protein snobs. (This is where I'm thinking I'll probably lose my audience). Apparently, the only land animals fit for human consumption are beef, pork, chicken, and the occasional deer. On special occasions we can eat turkey, duck, or quail. Dogs and cats are not food. They are cute cuddly creatures that no one in their right mind would turn into stew. Horses are okay for animal food, but humans certainly shouldn't eat them. Bunnies, squirrels, raccoon, possums and the like are cute woodland creatures or pests (depending on your experience with them), and they should be considered children's book illustrations, not a possible dietary supplement. Oh wait, let me backtrack here. Pork is a toss up depending on your religious beliefs or which books about nutrition you've read.
Let me go back to pets. I'm all for pets. I've owned hamsters, goldfish, cats and an awesome dog. I think there is a place for pets. But apparently in our society rather than allow cats and dogs to become food, we should sterilize them to keep them from overrunning our human population.
I guess what I'm saying is that our society is shooting itself in the foot. We still live in a land flowing with "milk and honey." We just have to get over ourselves and see it for what it is. I read once that lobster used to be considered poor mans food. In fact, there was a law that you couldn't feed your slaves lobster more than twice a week. Yet somehow, now a Maine lobster can go for $40 depending on the restaurant. At some point someone decided that lobster was a delicacy, and everyone believed them.
It makes me so angry when I see advertising for feeding America's hungry children. Apparently every night a bunch of kids here in the USA goes to bed hungry. I hope they aren't counting my kids in that statistic because there are a lot of nights my kids go to bed hungry. Of course, that's because they were too picky to eat a decent amount of food at supper time. It frustrates me that so many people are upset with non-organic farming. God told mankind to subdue the earth, and he gave us the brains to come up with ways to produce more food in better and easier ways. So why are we so up in arms with the meat industry for giving us enough food for everyone. Why do we euthanize old unwanted animals who are essentially "organically raised" and get up in arms about the cattle ranchers who are trying to satisfy our picky palates? Why do you think God made rabbits so easy to breed?
And one more thing about "pink slime." Instead of getting offended and signing petitions to keep it out of our schools, why don't we come up with a better use for those parts of the cow. The Native Americans found a use for all those body parts. We can too. If you don't want the government to feed it to your kid, then come up with an alternative. It's like telling someone they have to cook you a fancy dinner for less than $2. Either they have to break the budget, or they'll have to use poor quality food.
Posted by bethimus at 10:25 AM