Today, many of us living in the modern world have an abundance of food and choices at our disposal. Supermarket shelves groan under the weight of food. There are restaurants on every corner. Many advertise “All You Can Eat Buffets!” But among this abundance, we find that people are malnourished now more than ever. We’re all consuming more “food” but our cells are starving for real nutrients. Even as our technology advances, horrible diseases are increasing, and we have no cure for an endless and proliferating list of chronic conditions. One can only surmise that while we’re adding to the quantity of life, the very quality is decreasing.
There are many causes for this, including stress, environmental pollution, and toxicities to name a few. But a major cause is poor nutrition, and it’s worth stopping to examine our food, where it comes from, and how it’s produced.
As omnivores, we can eat a wide variety of foods. Most everyone in the world survives on plants, vegetables, and fruits. People in wealthier countries also consume large amounts of animals, dairy products, eggs, and fish.
All of these originally came from nature, springing from the soil of the land, or the water of the oceans and rivers. For millions of years, we were hunters and gatherers, but 10-12,000 years ago a revolution took place in “food technology.” Rather than foraging for food, we began to grow it. Rather than continually hunting animals, we started to herd and breed them. This enormous shift in how we ate released us, allowing us more time to create and think. This affected our most fundamental being, allowing us to develop stable societies and civilizations. Those who mastered agriculture flourished, but societies that failed, for example, to nurture something as basic as a water supply, became extinct.
For generations, farmers learned to give back to the land what they had taken from it. Crops were rotated, as farmers learned that what one plant might take from the soil, another would give back. Land was also allowed to lie fallow, and animals grazed upon it. The rich animal waste fed the fallow fields. In a year or two, that land was sown again with crops that would take root in a rich, healthy soil. Nature’s cycle was treated with respect. Things taken from the soil were returned to it. Vegetable waste was collected, and in the form of compost, returned to the land.
However, about 150 years ago, scientists came to the immature conclusion that plants only needed three basic chemicals: Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. This was the beginning of chemical fertilizers that did more harm than good. Earthworms, vital for the aeration and health of soil, were killed by this toxic imbalance. Plants grew bigger with this potent mix (much as a weightlifter will bulk up with steroids), but the plants weren’t healthy.
Nature, however, always finds ways to balance itself, and the sickly, weak plants attracted bugs, disease, and mold. If nature had its way, these plants would never have been harvested, and they would have returned to the soil, rotted, and nourished it. However, the chemical industry was not to be outdone, and in concert with the fertilizers, they developed pesticides. Because of this, these sickly plants appeared to be beautiful, healthy plants, but in reality, they were growing in opposition to nature.
Pesticides can’t differentiate between “good” insects and “bad.” They can’t harm the nervous system of a bug that has come to eat the weak plant, without also damaging a bee which is necessary for it to pollinate. They can’t differentiate between a slug chomping on a leaf, or a worm supplying the soil with air and water.
The double-pronged onslaught of chemical fertilizers and pesticides quickly destroyed the natural balance of the soil. Equally as bad, farmers, encouraged by fertilizers, started to overwork and abuse the soil. The ancient tried and tested method of allowing land to lie fallow was dispensed with, and as many crops as possible were, and are, forced from the same acreage, year in and year out.
This violation of the soil, the basic building block for every plant and animal product that we eat, has led to a decline in human well-being. Our soil is no longer natural, but artificial. This in turn has grown artificial plants and animals, and has greatly depleted the health of humans.
(This is an excerpt from the newest edition of the book ‘Health Wanted, Inquire Within’ by Dr. Hoban, available for purchase in the coming year.)