Sep 1, 2007
I've made another discovery while reading Sane Living in a Mad World by Robert Rodale: That Robert Rodale also started Prevention magazine -- and that the magazine he founded has become almost completely corrupt with regards to its original principles. Hopefully you are
familiar with Prevention and have read a copy or two or ad pamphlets for it in the last few years,
or this may not mean much to you. But, it appears that Rodale started the magazine based on organic/whole food principles, basically the idea of "grow what you can yourself, make that your goal and work out whatever compromises from there that you have to" that I myself pushed in an earlier blog post (http://media-log.blogspot.com). Consider the following quotes from Sane Living...:
"For me, the Prevention system of eating works beautifully. Of course,
I have the advantage of living on the Organic Gardening Experimental
Farm, where we can get natural, organic foods almost all year long.
But believe me, you can do almost as well by shopping for and eatng
foods that have real nourishment in them and avoiding completely the
junk foods that are thrust at you in the supermarket. There are still
natural foods available -- meats, beans, fruits, vegetables and certain
That gives you the gist. Now considering what Prevention is like today, consider the following:
"In my opinion, the main reason modern nutrition doesn't provide a
happy and simple way to eat is that nutritionists insist that we have
to eat all foods, even the worst kinds. Dieting is all right, they
contend, but just eat less of everything instead of cutting out some
foods completley. I'm sure the food experts take that position to
avoid conflict with the food industry, which is an important part of
the nutrition establishment. Eat ice cream, say the nutritionists,
because ice cream has a little calcium. What nonsense! Sure, ice
cream has a little calcium. But it's loaded with stuff we don't need
-- sugar, saturated fats, and chemical additives. Why should we take
in a lot of the bad to get a little bit of the good? Certainly we
shouldn't do it to sustain the fiction that everything sold in
supermarkets has real food value."
His reasoning (most of it supported by scientific evidence, both then
and today) regards the fact that you need less whole foods to satisfy
your hunger and nutritional requirements than you do refined and "junk"
foods. But even more important than that, is the fact that eating
empty (refined/junk) foods causes an imbalance in your body of
nutrients. You find yourself eating a lot of calories, but still
needing many vital nutrients. Your body is quite aware of this, and
gives you hunger or cravings that force you to eat more. The cravings
are usually very general -- something creamy, something salty,
something sweet or fatty -- and represent foods that in their whole form contain
the nutrients you're missing. For example, a craving for salt might
represent a lack of electrolytes (which are easily supplied by whole
fruit or fresh juices) or a need for whole protein and essential fatty
acids, such as one would find in fish or eggs. But if you feed
yourself a cream doughnut instead, you can bet that the craving will
keep right on going until you either eat a lot of doughnuts or
something more substatial (whole). As you might imagine, this sort of
behavior can lead to crash cycles and addictions.
Now on to the meat of this article. Given all this, is it a bit
shocking that Prevention now prominently features articles like "Eat
Ice Cream -- And Lose Weight!," "Peanut Butter for your Health!," (not
that all peanut butter is bad), and so forth? It should be pretty
self-evident that these articles are in EXACT opposition to Rodale's
aims. Not only that, but consider all the articles Prevention bombards
people with about this or that food being a "silver bullet" for good
health. There are no "silver bullets," the basic concept and the only
concept is whole foods, processed less, less polluted, with a healthy
dose of exercise. But besides that, there are no "silver bullets" when
you're loading yourself down with partialy hydrogenated oils and
sugar. You can eat as much acai berries or pomegranates or whatever
the hot tip of the week is and STILL get one of our country's favorite
diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cancer) if you're balancing it out
with hot dogs and candy bars.
I'll finish with a suggested "pyramid" of where to buy your food.
1. Your own garden
2. Local farmer's markets
3. "Meat market"-type local grocery stores with local produce
4. Health food stores, organic groceries and organic co-ops (There is
an organic grocery in Fort Wayne on Sherman Blvd., and very nice
farmer's markets and similar stores on Smith Rd., Knoll Road, Lower
Huntington Road and Warsaw St., among others)
5. Ethnic grocery stores or your grocery's organic section -- ethnic
groceries often have a wide variety of natural foods, fresh and with
minimal processing AND minimal ingredients.
6. Buy from your grocery's produce section, being sure to wash fruits
and vegetables before eating and avoiding the skin of most produce to
avoid the lion's share of pesticides. Your "big" grocery's produce is
spotless because it has generally been sprayed 8 to 50 times with
pesticide, sometimes so much that licking the skin is a quite
As to other products, buy them as unprocessed as possible and do as
much of the processing as you're reasonably able (this falls under the
category of giving yourself more exercise as well!), and when making
choices between different brands/similar products, go for the one with
less ingredients and/or more naturally-occuring vitamins. Become
familiar with the chemical names of vitamins so you can tell if they're
artificially added; vitamins are good but there are thousands of
nutrients not listed--and therefore not added--in your everyday whole
William A. Otis
Sep 1, 2007 11:43am
Sep 1, 2007
I've been reading "Sane Living in a Mad World: A Guide to the Organic Way of Life" by Robert Rodale (1972). Note the year and the author; this is the Rodale, the same one whose Rodale Press has published hundreds of books on gardening and growing things over the years, as well as other products. The year of publication was 1972 -- 35 years ago. Organic farming is a very old idea -- indeed, "old as the hills," but even its current resurgence is much older than the 5 or 10 years since we started seeing a respectable amount of organic products on the store shelves. It's a bit heartbreaking that in the book Robert thought he was seeing the beginnings of a major turnaround in the way the country produced its food, but then we got a bunch of Republican presidents and little changed. Robert Rodale's father, J. I. Rodale, is actually credited with introducing the organic idea to the U.S. in 1942 - some 65 years ago. I found the following quote on refined foods that I found quite interesting: (emphasis my own)
"Organically-grown food is handled differently after it is harvested. It is not refined, chemically treated, or processed beyond the dictates of bare necessity. There is no such thing as organically grown white bread, for example, since by refining the wheat you would destroy its "organic" quality. You can see that the word organic has grown beyond its original farm and garden meaning, and has become a matter of interest and concern to all people who want to improve their health."
Note the very broad and decisive statement that there is no such thing as organic white bread, and that it is said by someone with such authority on the subject and presented as fact. It was basically considered to be self-evident that "organic" meant preserving the organic nature of not one but three things: the soil, the food, and the food as it will be presented to the public. This means increasing the organic material in the soil and not presenting any refined/dangerous/toxic chemicals to it; harvesting food from that soil that contains no refined chemicals; and in fact presenting the food to the public in an "organic" state, which a refined/pure chemical is not. This actually did seem self-evident to me, as I balked the first time I saw food items that included "refined organic cane sugar" or "sea salt" in them. Sea salt is technically still a "whole food;" it is similar to honey in that it is predominantly one chemical, yet contains small amounts of many other minerals and/or vitamins. But when we have companies pushing Oreos with "organic flour and sugar," I think we've gone too far. If these are the only organic items in these Oreos, they are not two important things:
1. 70% of the ingredients are most likely not organic. (Which is the usual definition of whether an item can be certified as organic -- most people prefer 100% actually)
2. It is not a "whole food."
This brings to light a few important things we need to think about with "organic foods," lest we buy anything that mentions the "o" word and think we're getting our money's worth in the form of better taste, less toxins and more benefits to our health.
A. Food that was organically-grown but then refined is no longer "organic" in nature but a refined chemical. It does not contain a healthy balance of calories-vitamins-minerals which is a primary goal of organic eating.
B. Food that has been shipped from another country or even several states away may have lost much of its nutrients along the way, and may have used up an awful lot of fossil fuels to get to you (an increasing concern among vegetarians and organic enthusiasts). Caveat emptor.
C. Food that was organically-grown but then processed in numerous ways (especially those that involve cooking or soaking) will have lost much of their nutrients and become more of a refined chemical product than an organic/whole food. Check the vitamin content of processed "organic" foods; if they're the same as their non-organic counterparts you may be doing a little better than if you bought the national brand, but you're probably not getting your money's worth. You're paying extra for all the processing the manufacturer did to the food, so you are basically paying them to degrade your food.
In summary I would like to see store items such as those touted for their "organic white flour" also having in the same print size a note that they are not a certified organic food, nor a whole food. And perhaps we should begin to be a bit more vocal (with our mouths or pocketbooks) about the types of foods and ingredients we expect to see available to us, lest we end up with the same old junk food, processed chemically and mechanically to the point of mutilation, simply minus the poisons (pesticides/chemical fertilizer residues) and drugs (antibiotics/hormones/etc.). While that would be a minor victory, we would still be an obese nation prone to diabetes, heart disease and cancer -- which are the main problems whole foods and exercise are meant to solve.
William A. Otis
Content and comments expressed here are the opinions of Care2 users and not necessarily that of Care2.com or its affiliates.
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