Standard American Diet
“Dissent is patriotic”, have you seen that bumper sticker before? I saw it more often during the campaign leading to the invasion of Iraq around ten years ago. Back then everybody was waving their flags, and the minority opposing the war was only to be found protesting in progressive cities like Portland, where I was at the time. Well, as we know now, public opinion swiftly shifted after trillions were spent, the casualties increased, and misinformation was revealed. A few years later and we chose a new president who promised to withdraw our troops from the battlefield if he was elected. The purpose of the bumper sticker I believe is to say that while the dissenter may appear to be unpatriotic for opposing the views of the majority, the opposite can often be true, as the dissenter is among the brave minority who sees a better path forward for the nation. And now is the moment where I connect the war in Iraq to the Standard American Diet (SAD). I dissent against the ways we grow, process and eat food in this country, and I don’t dissent because I hate freedom, I dissent because I am a patriot, and I know that there is a better way. There is a better way for our health, there is a better way for our environment, and there is a better way for our animals.
Don’t be S.A.D.
Thinking about the way we eat in this country makes me SAD. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer are only a few of the common diseases people suffer from that are caused, at least in part, by our diet and lifestyle. Why do we do it? Because it tastes good; because it is most affordable; because it is most convenient; because it is our only option; because that is what all the advertisers told you to buy; because you didn’t know any better; because that is what everybody else is eating.
“Ignorance is taking over, yo we got to take the power back”
-From the lyrics for Take the Power Back, performed by Rage Against the Machine
Show your independence!
Even for those of us who can’t use ignorance as an excuse, we know that being different from the group can be difficult. It’s the 4th of July and while attending your friend’s party you begin to survey the table. You see hot dogs and burgers, sodas, bags of chips, and maybe some donuts, cake or ice cream. The meat is all factory farmed, the bleached white buns have no nutritional value, the chips have an ingredient list a mile long, the rest are all different variations of sugar. Nothing is homemade, local, fresh, or organic, so what to do? Sure, the 4th of July only happens once per year, but we all know these kinds of gatherings occur all throughout the year. Does anybody even know the purpose of the 4th of July anymore? I don’t think it is to launch fireworks and eat hot dogs. The purpose of this holiday is to take a stand against an oppressive system; to fight for a better way of life. Don’t be afraid to eat differently from the group, display your independence and eat with pride!
Strategies for surviving unhealthy social meals:
- Contribute a dish for the group that will nourish you and eat only/mostly that
- Use this as an opportunity to teach others if you are feeling extroverted
- Tell others you are not hungry if you are feeling introverted
- Eat before you arrive
- Eat after you leave
Rage Against the Machine
Just as the person with the “dissent is patriotic” bumper sticker needed courage to drive down streets full of flag waving, ribbon wearing, war supporters, you too need courage to find a different way of eating. It’s not easy; there are holiday gatherings, office parties, weddings, and numerous other occasions where we eat socially. Food unites us, and nobody wants to be the person with the strange diet, but it’s their diet that is strange, not yours. It’s time to rage people! I say that jokingly, but only half jokingly because it truly is a machine that we are raging against. There are billions of dollars invested in keeping the food system exactly the way it is, not to mention the inertia from decades of learned behaviors by all the people in our lives.
“If we don’t take action now, we’ll settle for nothing later”
-From the lyrics for Settle for Nothing, performed by Rage Against the Machine
I often have to determine how much of the Ayurvedic philosophy to share with people when they are hearing about it for the first time. The subject can be a radically different way of viewing the world for some people depending on how they were raised, so I try to avoid overwhelming people with foreign Sanskrit words, and strange concepts. For example, with these articles I usually write 3-5 paragraphs without mentioning Ayurveda a single time, and then finally make the connection during the last paragraph. The reason for this is because there is a lifetime of information we need to unlearn before we can begin to learn a new way of living. With some people it seems that I could spend an entire year helping them unlearn the destructive diet and lifestyle of this country before I ever had to explain a single Ayurvedic concept. Occasionally people will say they’ve heard of the doshas; vata, pitta and kapha, but is it really worth explaining the tridosha philosophy to somebody that eats McDonalds every morning before work? Instead I think it is best to unlearn this idea that a daily serving of McDonalds is appropriate. Maybe the learning and unlearning need to happen in parallel, regardless, you get the picture. Americans are very SAD, but the time has come to display our Independence from the corporate food industry, and rage against the machine!
Hope you all had a great INDEPENDENCE Day!!!