The obesity epidemic in my opinion is due to a disconnection of man with the biosphere. The enormous explosion of the modern city with the problem of life-style and food supply is the cause.
We no longer buy from the farmer but from multinational food suppliers (middle men) who make excess profit from food and beverages. However there is a quiet revolution happening at least where I live. In my state there is a body www.foodconnect.com.au which provides fruit and vegetables, bread and even dairy products direct from farmers. We get a box of what is in season once a week and pick it up from a volunteer (a family nearby) who acts as a depot. We receive a newsletter about its contents and we live on that for a week. It costs us $100 and we buy no other fruit and vegie. This feeds four people. We eat their farm loaves without butter as the bread is so tasty. We make our meals around the box and it thus demands a creative approach to cooking and eating. It is all organic. No food has traversed the stratosphere to get to our mouths. By the end of the week, our fridge and fruit bowl is getting bare.
This week we received some Bunya nuts from the Bunya pine tree; a staple of our indigenous people once a year when in season. We have never cooked them before but will.
We buy a lamb from a farm, slaughtered by a local butcher. It comes cut up in a box and a man delivers it to our kitchen once a month. http://www.silverwoodorganics.com.au/
We know that the sheep are happy and we know the terroire of the animal just as we do with our food box.
A good book I recommend is called “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan (Penguin). When we are out of contact with our terroire, we are on the slippery slope of societal decline.
I am writing a book on life as a child in the 1950s and in it I can see that we are in decline in many ways. We used to have our milk delivered from a farm and poured into an enamel billy can we left on our front steps. The milk had cream on top and tasted like milk. We now buy such milk from a dairy but there is one big supplier which dominates the majority of our dairy farmers. It is an Italian multinational.
This week, Foodconnect delivered its 150,000th food box. There are similar moves afoot overseas.
You are what you eat. The famous 19th century French gastronome, Brillat-Savarin said, “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what your are”. Grow a vegetable garden if you can. Seek out good things and you may just precipitate a reversal of the current decline in the food chain.
There was an article in our newspaper yesterday on lap bands for teenagers. We have an obesity epidemic in my country and I am not just pointing the finger at the USA. We are just following the trend.
If bread needs butter for taste, it is not good bread. I was told once by a Latin teacher, that bread quality declines with the more ‘modern” the civilisation which brings me to Mahatma Gandhi who when asked what he thought of British Civilisation, he replied he thought it was a good idea. Our civilisation is why we are obese.
You can’t legislate common sense. It is all to do with the food change. There has to be a quantum leap in thinking about our connection with the food source.
This disconnection was exemplified one day in 2008 when I was walking with my wife under the beautiful glade of olive trees one morning at Olympia in Greece in full summer. As I can hear now from my home, there was the shrill of cicadas which at times was almost deafening. It reminded me of home as there were eucalypts too.
An American woman came up to me (I could see her nationality as she had sneakers on and was two pick handles across the beam and not only by the tell-tale timbre of her voice but the volume gave her away. She asked me what the noise was and wasn’t it awful? I told her the answer and said to me it was music. Her reply was “Can’t they spray them” (meaning with insecticides). I thought to myself, this is why my country is exporting bees to your country.
Michael Pollan says don’t eat it if your grandma wouldn’t recognise it. My adage is, “Don’t eat or drink it if Homer (not Simpson!) wouldn’t have recognised it. The Cretan diet is the best I know and I adhere to. It is sustainable. Meat should be a condiment, not cover your plate. Olive oil is a staple consumed in prodigious amounts along with vegetables.
A man from the Pacific Islands visited a friend in Sydney. As they walked along the street, he passed a man and asked, “Who that fella?” His city friend said, “I don’t know”.
This kept on happening until after a while his Pacific friend said, “You live with ghost people.”
We live in ghost cities surrounded by ghost people, down the corridor, next door, in your street. You eat ghost food and you live on ghost soil which is now a commodity in fenced allotments with a mortgage to be traded and sold to the next ghost in five years as you move onto another ghost town to live with more ghosts.
Foodconnect supplies food in a city of one million people/ghosts.
Finally one glass of wine is equivalent to a slice of bread. An endocrinologist friend told me that soft drink is a major cause of obesity in the young. When I was a child soft drink was a treat we had at birthday parties.
When we first got fruit from food connect my children who were used to perfect fruit polished with wax refused to eat apples which were small and had specks on them until I told them that real fruit is imperfect and will have spots and things on the surface. Although small they are crisp and sweet and sometimes have the apple leaf on the stem. We demand perfect fruit and produce at our peril. I saw a programme on TV about catching crab in the Aleutians. The fishermen threw a whole catch back because some crabs had barnacles on their shells! The public wouldn’t buy them.
Humans are out of touch with their roots and the soil and obesity like a warming planet is a mere symptom of a greater malaise.