Julia Griffin - author

The Stranger Within
Blackberries and raspberries

What We Eat

Summer Newsletter 2019

What we eat is more and more in the news at the moment for various reasons.

One reason is the increase in vegetarian and vegan diets, spearheaded by the young who are concerned about our planet, climate change and its future and also about animal welfare and human health. A report by Global Data suggests that "as much as 70 percent of the world's population is said to be either reducing meat consumption or ditching it all together, and who is spearheading this? You guessed it - young people."

The other concern, connected to the above, is our overuse of plastic and the fact that it is polluting our land and especially our seas and waterways. More consideration is now being given to whether our food is wrapped in plastic or not and also where our food has come from, as air miles also ramps up pollution and affects our planet. There is also concern about food wastage, with reports that good, healthy food is being thrown away because it is past its best before date receiving widespread publicity and protest, especially as there are more and more people needing to use food banks for various reasons, and more people sleeping rough on our streets.

Cancer is widespread it would seem and this is another subject that is linked to our diet, but also to other things that may be affecting its growth. Most people I would think know someone who has had cancer, or who is being treated, or has returned Home with the disease. Smoking, drinking, weight and exercise are often talked about in relation to prevention and cause, but we have polluted so much of our soil and air, and we use chemicals in so many ways – on our fields, in our homes, in materials for many products that we come into contact with – so are these also contributing factors? And what about dementia, why is this on the rise? On top of all this, the stress and anxiety and other mental health conditions are not helping our physical bodies or our inclinations when it comes to eating a good diet and living a healthy life as much as we can. Are we asking the right questions here? This is surely not just about more money and research.

Allergies and intolerances are also more talked about because so many people are suffering to some degree or other. Why is this? What are we doing to our food, our soil, our air, to nature itself that is causing an increase in allergies? Some reports say that food processing, which began in the 1980s, could be partly to blame. Others say that hygiene is a contributory factor, that our society is "too clean", with children especially not being exposed to a normal environment but to an overcleaned one, and one where chemicals play an increasing part in one way or other. A study by German scientist, Dr Erica Von Mutius led to another phenomenon known as "the farm effect", related to hygiene. She researched the incidence of allergic diseases amongst Amish people, dairy farmers and city dwellers and found the lowest incidence of allergic disease was in the Amish community and the highest in the city dwellers. The Amish lifestyle is very simple with no chemicals or electricity and farming at the heart of their culture. Once children are old enough to crawl they are amongst farm animals and drink unpasteurised milk. In sampling dust in their barns and houses she found a rich microbial count. These microbes had modulated their immune systems enhancing their immunity.

Sugar is also a big contributory factor in our health. It not only feeds cancer but also contributes to obesity and diabetes. I also learnt from our spiritual tutors recently that sugar inhibits the body's natural ability to absorb the nutrients in the food that we eat. So we may be eating many healthy things day to day, but if our sugar intake is too high this will negate much of the good, healthy side of our diet and affect our life and our energy in a negative way. These are all good reasons for sugar not being good for us, although we do need some sugar for energy but in the form, I believe, of honey and fruit which is natural.

With more publicity about climate change because of the increased extremes of weather and natural disasters, one of the things that is more frequently mentioned is about individual responsibility. This has not been highlighted so much in the past, it has been more about Government policy and companies changing the way they produce and promote products, including our food. Some of the changes people are making I have mentioned above and this is good that people are thinking more and trying to adapt their lifestyle and what they eat and how they travel, etc.

But perhaps the change that is required and that will really impact the planet in a positive way has yet to come and will be forced upon us because of the imbalance in mankind and his planet. Nature has been given to us to help us, but we are abusing this gift by polluting our land, we are taking for the wrong reasons and we are not sharing and working together. Many already believe this and are working hard and doing good work to help others and to help our planet. Many are blind to this.

If we believe more change is coming that will have a greater impact on all our lives, then the more we can prepare ourselves, both physically and mentally, the better. Growing our own food is certainly one option, though not feasible for everyone, and trying to eat more healthily is another, again not always easy given how addictive our diets have become for many people. I also think that if people knew how to cook simple, basic meals there would not only be money savings, but an opportunity to eat in a healthier way and perhaps more in season. Storing food is another important action we can all take, as impressed on us by our tutors. All of these things can be an example to others around us: our friends, neighbours, families. So this is the main responsibility I believe we can all try and do when it comes to what we eat.

The answer seems to be to get back to a simpler and more spiritual way of life and treat our land, our seas and our air, as well as each other, with respect, working with nature to inform us and help us live in a more healthy way, and being more concerned and generous each to the other. One day we will all understand what we did, why we did it and the lessons that had to be learnt in the way they were written by the Great Mind.