Diet Wars: A Fable
Diet Wars: A Fable
A short time ago, very close by, we forgot how to eat.
For over 10,000 years, home cooks and gardeners took the bounty of the land: starches, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices and lovingly crafted meals to nourish body and soul. In touch with the seasons and the local powers of nature, generations of trial and error yielded a treasure trove of foods that sustained, and when necessary, healed. On rare occasions, special foods could be gathered for celebration as kinfolk would come together and praise.
Then a Dark Power began to emerge. The relaxed pace of working with the land and plants sped up as the Age of Machines arrived. With increased mechanization, the droid machines began grinding up our precious food. The Dark Side of Food sent its minions out into the world in search of the largest and cheapest sources of fat, sugar, and salt. They added this unnatural bounty to our food, concentrating the addictive power, enslaving the consumers with the Pleasure Trap. No longer was a simple bowl of rice with fresh local vegetables and spices adequate. Our taste buds and brains screamed for more! The Dark Side responded by colonizing much of the galaxy with their military-industrial power enslaving the locals to produce the much needed sugars, oils and Himalayan Celtic Black Purple Sea Salt. Not satisfied, the Dark Side turned to our animal companions. Huge factory farms replaced pastures, and their eyes shone with terror instead of peace.
Just as farm animals to slaughter, people ate these food-like products, and developed many chronic diseases. As the rich food of the Empire, people celebrated “progress” while they developed high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Deadly diseases never seen before became commonplace, heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. Then the ultimate Dark side disease emerged, cancer. A mysterious disease that eats away at you when your own cells rebel. Another Dark Power emerged to “manage” these conditions with even more chemicals at an enormous cost. Laboratories worked into the night to create medications to “cure” these new diseases. No cure, just inefficient management of the symptoms. But plenty of profit swallowed by the gaping maw of the Empire.
All was not lost. Some people managed to reconnect eating and health. On the fringes of the Empire, a perceptive few noticed something a bit odd. Some noticed that the colonized natives eating their “poor” diet were actually stronger and healthier. If violence ensued, these skinny locals were difficult to put down without fancy weapons. Dr. Burkitt treated patients from both sides and saw who was healtheir. He realized the value of the ancient ways, and sought to spread this knowledge to improve the health of Empire citizens. “Fiber!” he cried out. Meanwhile, in the heart of the Empire, a near implosion took place with two Great Wars. Food was disrupted, stolen, and redistributed. People had to reconnect with the “poor” food of their past. And despite the stress, became healthier. But despite a few lean years, the Empire was back on track, making their addictive “food” concentraed in flavor even cheaper and more convenient. Buy and eat you meal in your vehicle in five minutes? You bet.
Meanwhile, a small Rebel Alliance was born. Pioneering Jedi such as Chittendon and Kempner led the way. Chittendon challenged the protein myth, showing simple foods were best. Kempner solved incurable health problems. Others, like Pritikin, discovered the now arcane art of eating and disease reversal through their own study of the Force of health. John McDougall saw simple folk from far side of the Empire eat thier traditional diets with better health. Other Rebels, at the fringes of the galaxy, revived their marginalized traditions of native plants such as macrobiotics and ayurveda. A crack appeared in the Empire’s armor, when these Rebels applied simple foods to complex health problems and succeeded.
These rebels faced opposition in the form of convenience and the Pleasure Trap powers the Dark Side had made ubiquitous. But they trudged on. The Force began to speak to new warriors. McDougall, Ornish, and Esselstyn, struck out against the Dark Side from within the belly of the Beast. Setting up scientific studies in the Empire’s own language, they proved where much disease and suffering came from, and better, how to fix it. Farmer’s markets grew rapidly, organic standards were set and enforced. Gardens began to replace lawns. People were beginning to see the Light, then . . .
The Empire Struck Back
On the covers of national magazines, the new low carb warriors fought back with pictures of bacon, butter, and steak. “Fat does not make you fat!” they exclaimed, and Darkness gathered once again. Grass fed is OK, your brain needs saturated fat and cholesterol. Upset about the past 10,000 years, these Dark warriors went even further into the past, to fabricate an entirely new paleo paradigm. The foods that nourished and healed generations was bad. Only the rich foods of the Empire can save you!
These are turbulent times. The Dark Side is strong. It is quick. It is easy. It is seductive. It is tasty. Those concentrated flavors and nutrients enslave you.
But there are plenty still willing to fight for good, whole, natural, healthy plant food. New doctors continue to step away from the Empire’s health practices to help patients see the Light side. Athletes, chefs, gardeners, writers, and bloggers spread the word amid a cacophony of Darkness.
The battle rages on . . .
With the greatest respect, admiration, and gratitude for George Lucas