Music as Medicine

 

 

From bobmarley.com

From bobmarley.com

 

“One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain”

Lyrics from Trenchtown Rock, performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers

 

Bob Marley was born 70 years ago on February 6, 1945. I wanted to take this opportunity to briefly examine these famous lyrics and what they mean in the context of preventive medicine. On this blog I frequently refer to the concept of Food as Medicine, which refers to the practice of preventing and even treating disease through the diet. I also frequently target the pharmaceutical industry as an over used and harmful form of treatment that too often takes the place of simple lifestyle modifications. Instead of finding the source of a symptom, pharmaceuticals are frequently used to mask the symptoms and allow the patient to continue the destructive behavior that is causing disease. The language we use says much about our beliefs as individuals and as a society. For example, many people use the term “medicine” to describe the pharmaceuticals they are taking for various diseases and conditions. When I think of medicine I imagine some form of therapy that does nothing other than to support, heal and strengthen the mind-body-spirit. From my perspective medicine is an odd choice of words as there are often many unwanted side effects associated with these drugs. Admittedly, people suffering from serious diseases may not respond to other methods of treatment, though it just seems like two steps forward, and one step back. Another example is to describe a powerful plant medicine such as Ayahuasca as a “drug”, while an indigenous shaman from the Amazon rainforest might prefer the word “medicine”. How is it that one culture uses certain plant medicines to heal a wide range of conditions, while another culture declares the substances illegal, and without medical value?

Fill in the blank as Medicine

Listening to Marley sing Trenchtown Rock it sounds as if he is describing a sick patient being dosed with painkilling drugs, yet he refers to nothing more than the sound coming from his guitar and your speakers. So we have Food as Medicine, Plants as Medicine, Music as Medicine, and the list goes on. What about Travel as Medicine when we change our surroundings and get inspired by a new perspective? Or perhaps Career as Medicine when we feel good about our professional purpose and the people we work with rather than grinding through the daily routine to earn a check that pays the bills. For those of us living in the cloudy Pacific Northwest we could even talk about Sun as Medicine. These are ideas I plan to explore in greater detail as I travel to South America this month; I hope to share the results with you soon, ciao!

Related Articles:

((( Positive Vibrations )))

Just say NO, to pharmaceuticals

Do you want to know the secret?

 

From bobmarley.com

 

Nature as Medicine?

Nature as Medicine?

 

Advertisements

An Owner’s Manual for life

Photo by Roy2k.com

Photo by Roy2k.com

 

When we were born, our bodies didn’t come with an Owner’s Manual that gave us instructions on how to operate this new vehicle, or did it? What should you eat, how much should you exercise, and when is the best time to sleep? These are all questions that some of us may be thinking about if we want to recover from poor health, or if we are striving for optimal health. However, if we are not thinking about these questions then we must have already found an answer, so where did that answer come from? If you were fortunate to be born into a family of knowledgeable parents then you probably received most of your guidance from them. Yet many people are not so fortunate, and receive guidance from their parents that steers them away from health. Besides our parents, if we are not actively asking questions on how to live then we are likely to receive guidance from our media, which seems to have displaced our culture. The media saturates our senses to a level that dilutes whatever remnants of traditional knowledge there are remaining in our society. Who are the village elders passing down their wisdom in modern America, McDonalds, Coke, Monsanto? I guarantee that if you are not actively asking questions on how best to operate your body through life then you are receiving answers from a constant stream of corporate advertisements and television shows. Don’t fret, because I’m here to tell you that there is a reliable source of knowledge available to all, but only if you are willing to open your mind.

Ayurveda = Knowledge of Living

Assuming you already know what Ayurveda is, let’s summarize by defining it as one of the oldest systems of medicine known to humans. Sure, there are plenty of books on the market today explaining how to eat, but who to believe? Butter was good then it was bad, and now it is good again, depending on whom you talk to. Perhaps you place all your trust in science, but even this powerful tool can produce some conflicting results depending on how the research is performed and who funds it. I find comfort in receiving guidance from a system of medicine that has survived the test of time, especially when it is supported by modern science.

The Daily Regimen

In Ayurveda the term Dinacarya refers to the daily regimen. I find it fascinating to know that a daily regimen exists for the sole purpose of promoting optimal health, and that the source of this knowledge was not contaminated by the influences of money. Pure knowledge that is presumably free of ego, profit, confusion, or other forms of interference. So if you are asking the question of how best to live for optimal health, and you trust Ayurveda as a reputable source of traditional knowledge, let’s begin with a very brief introduction to Dinacarya. The following list is from sunrise to sundown.

Awaken: early is best, before sunrise, usually between 3-7.

Evacuate waste: with regular digestion this should be first on your list.

Drink: warm or room temperature water, up to 750mL.

Cleanse the mouth, eyes, nose, and throat: Techniques include scraping the tongue, brushing the teeth, filling your mouth with oil, gargling, using herbal rinses for the eyes, nasya and neti pot for the nose.

Breathe: deep-breathing exercises known as Pranayama.

Therapeutic smoking: no, this is not an excuse to smoke cigarettes, rather medicinal herbs are used in small doses. Vaporizers could provide a healthier alternative.

Exercise: people may be surprised to learn that you should only perform to one half of your strength. Stop when perspiration, dryness and heavy breathing begin.

Massage: full body self-massage using plant based oils, though dry massages are sometimes appropriate.

Bathe: minimize or eliminate soap, instead soak in fragrant waters, remove oils with bean powders, and clean your hair with herbal rinses.

Yoga: remember, this is not a form of exercise; it is preparation for meditation.

Meditate: to attain mindfulness

Eat: diet is at the core of Ayurveda and can’t possibly be summarized here, but every factor related to eating is considered. Eating 2 meals per day is recommended.

Duties: finally, you can begin the duties of your day, while practicing the mindfulness attained during meditation of course. Naps should be avoided.

Sex: before bed, winter and spring are the best times.

Sleep: between 7 and 11 is best, especially if you’re waking between 3-7 in the morning…

Unlearn all you’ve learned

Well, I had to be concise as each of the above topics could easily fill an entire page, or in the case of eating, an entire book. Consider this an introduction to a subject that you can dig deeper into later if you are interested. The dinacarya appears to be very time consuming doesn’t it? To be honest, I am definitely not completing a full daily regimen every morning. However, I include as many practices into my day as possible, and some days are better than other. For example, on days when I don’t work it is possible to complete much more of the regimen. Before you dismiss the daily regimen as being impractical in this modern world, think of it as a goal you strive for, but recognize that you may never fully reach. Perhaps you can’t do a full body self massage with oil every day, but once per week is more reasonable. To my young readers, remember that you don’t have to live like everybody else. Instead of working 60 hours per week to buy a huge house and fancy car, have you considered working less and using the free time to focus on your health and happiness? We really need to examine our priorities in life. And to the busy single mothers with small children, it only takes 15 seconds to scrape your tongue!

 

“Instant quick, new improved, hurry hurry rush rush, world on the move, marijuana illegal, but cigarettes cool, I might look kind of funny, but I ain’t no fool”

-From Synthesizer, performed by Outkast

 

Related Articles:

How often should you snack?

How much soap should you use for health skin?

What is Ayurveda???

 

 

 

What is Sattvic Planet?!?

Dhanavantari-dharmainc

Dhanvantari, the god of Ayurveda, from dharmainc.org

 

As I celebrate the One Year Anniversary of Sattvic Planet I think now would be a good time to review the purpose of this website by looking back on the previous year, and looking ahead to some changes coming soon, but before we do that I think a few quick definitions would be appropriate.

Definitions and concept

This website has been built upon the foundation of Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine from India that dates back thousands of years. Following the philosophy of preventive medicine, Ayurveda focuses on diet and lifestyle to maintain health. Sattva is a Sanskrit word meaning “Your Truth”, and represents a state of mind that can be achieved through a meditative process. As you can imagine, discovering your truth results in a myriad of benefits that range from improving your health to finding your purpose in life, both spiritually and professionally. The name Sattvic Planet describes a society in which majorities of people see clearly through the destructive illusion that shapes our reality.

2014

Looking back on the past year the content of Sattvic Planet has varied greatly. Topics have ranged from recipes, lifestyle guidance, and environmental concerns, to corporations, politics and current events. Despite this wide range of topics, every article posted to date has been connected in some way to health. My website statistics tell me that people have an interest in learning new recipes and having common yet confusing dietary questions answered. You’ll have to excuse me when I feel the need to express my opinions related to current events such as the consequences of our Election Results, or the meaning of our Black Friday obsessions. However disconnected some of these topics may seem, the reality is that every decision we make, bite we take or commercial we watch has an influence on our health. Ayurveda may not seem related to Steve Jobs, Avatar, Float Tanks, or Joe Rogan, all subjects of previous posts, but upon closer inspection we find that mindfulness is the glue that holds this website together.

2015?

As Sattvic Planet grows, I gain a greater understanding of what people are looking for. I suspect that many want to change the way they live, look and feel. Perhaps they want to improve their health, or they suspect the industrial food and healthcare systems are broken, regardless, I think people are waking from their slumber to ask if there is a better way. The Internet is connecting people and providing information at a scale never before seen, and people are using this technology to learn about topics not commonly covered by the mainstream media. Sick people want to be healthy, and healthy people want peak performance, but the conventional path rarely leads to complete mind-body-spirit health in my humble opinion. As people come to this realization they begin looking elsewhere and this is where Sattvic Planet enters the picture. I have a few ideas brewing for 2015, including a cookbook, but it all depends on what happens during my upcoming trip to…

Peru

I’ll be starting 2015 with a trip to the Amazon to participate in plant medicine healing ceremonies led by indigenous shamans of the rainforest. This journey is certain to inspire many posts to Sattvic Planet! The more I hear about this therapy, the more excited I am to learn exactly how it works. The ceremonies are said to connect people with the spiritual world, a process that could probably solve many of our health problems in this spiritually disconnected society. I have begun to notice many unexpected similarities between Ayurveda and Amazon medicine, as both are traditional systems of medicine that use methods such as controlled diet, purging, meditation, and connection to nature. Stay tuned for more on this subject!

 

DSC08875

 

“Used to think 30 years old then the end comes, now I feel like I’m just gaining momentum, seen the world 2 times, all except for India, about to vacate there when we finish this one”

-Lyrics from World of Vibrations, performed by Blackalicious

 

India

Thanks for that quote Blackalicious, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Yes, after “we finish this one” (trip to Peru) I will be preparing for a 3-month journey to India, the home of Ayurveda. My trip to India will not happen until early 2016, but I’m sure it will inspire Sattvic Planet in ways that can’t possibly be predicted. While I’ve already spent a great amount of time studying Ayurveda in the US from an experienced teacher, I believe this trip to India is necessary to really take my knowledge to the next level, and I hope to share that knowledge with you when I return.

Revolving and Evolving

The many topics covered by this website are informed by science, traditional knowledge, and yes, a few of my humble opinions. What happens when you mix Peru, Michael Pollan, Pink Floyd, Pink Salt, Paleo and Psilocybin together? Besides a mouthful of P’s, you get a hybrid of philosophies representative of my style and interests. I’ve definitely put my stamp on this project, but I can assure you that these are more than just my opinions; I receive my information from credible sources, either straight from the ancient texts or modern research. It is difficult to say exactly how Sattvic Planet will evolve, but after my trip to Peru I hope to have a better idea. Thanks to all of you who completed this revolution around the sun with me, and as always, feedback is appreciated.

 

Related Articles:

What is Ayurveda???

Sattvic Planet photographer releases EPIC film

Meaning of the Sattvic Planet image

 

 

 

Celebrate Buy Nothing Day!

From Adbusters.org

 

It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving is this Thursday, snow is already falling in the Eastern US, and Christmas is only one month away. Are you ready for the holiday season? Beyond eating turkey dinners with family and hanging festive lights, a new tradition has emerged. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, has become famous for low sales prices, all night shopping, and busy shoppers crossing gifts off their lists. Once again, you ask why would this topic be included on a website dedicated to agriculture, food, health, and the environment? And once again I reply, as I did a couple weeks ago during the US Elections, because “everything is connected”.

Tradition, holiday, or religion?

It is no secret that Americans love to shop, and it has become well established over the past few decades that the holiday season is a profitable time for retailers, but what does this mean for the health of our society and our planet? It appears that the act of buying gifts for family has moved beyond the status of tradition to that of an actual holiday. Rather than being a small task that we do for those we love as we celebrate the larger purposes of Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, and the New Year, there is now an entire day dedicated to shopping. The only thing missing is a Congressional declaration that Black Friday is an official US holiday. So shopping has arguably transformed beyond the status of tradition into that of a holiday, but does it stop there? As each year becomes more and more extreme the temptation arises to label shopping the new American religion. Retailers once opened their doors at normal operating hours until some of them thought it would be a good idea to open a few hours earlier. Like the US-Russian Cold War, an arms race ensued and eventually some stores started opening at midnight. Of course, it didn’t stop there, and some stores now even open on Thursday evening, barely late enough for most people to have digested their pumpkin pie. It appears to me as though the holidays have completely lost their meaning. Sorry if I’m stating the obvious here, but do we really believe that Americans are thankful for the kindness offered to them by our Native American hosts? Are we thankful for the rich and fertile soils, which are necessary to produce the abundance of foods that fill our plates? Do we celebrate the birth and life of Christ, or are we more focused on getting that new smart phone we asked for?

Buy Nothing Day

As consumerism spreads like bacteria across America’s borders into the emerging markets of Brazil, China and beyond, the planet is being devoured by our wants and needs. It would be bad enough if all 7 billion of us were simply shopping for the items we actually needed (in reality there are probably only 1-2 billion of us wealthy enough to shop). Instead, we shop for items that we merely want, or even worse we try to make ourselves happy by seeking the entertainment of some new toy that we quickly forget about. I suspect we are trying to fill an empty spiritual void with material possessions. Speaking from my formal education in Environmental Science, I would strongly argue that the planet is not able to supply our endless demands. I don’t want to sound like the Grinch who stole Christmas, but the truth is that Christmas was already stolen, by Walmart. Or did Walmart sell Christmas? Either way, if you want to show your love for somebody by buying a gift they would truly appreciate then I honestly see no harm in that. One sign of the problem here is seeing shoppers who view gift giving as a stressful chore they must endure, so they buy family members things they don’t even want or need simply to complete their duty. By now, you’ve probably heard enough, so you may be wondering what kind of action can be taken. Perhaps you should try taking no action. Buy Nothing Day has emerged as a global movement in response to Black Friday. However, if you must buy a gift then consider purchasing it from a local business, or making it yourself. Ask yourself what the person really needs, whether they will actually appreciate it, and if there is an environmentally friendly version of the product available. Instead of an item you could also purchase an experience such as a massage or a float tank session for your family member.

From buynothingday.co.uk

From buynothingday.co.uk

Mind, body, spirit

Now that Black Friday is a holiday, and Santa Claus is a corporate executive, where do we go from here? Economists always tell us that we need to grow the economy, but can the planet sustain nonstop consumerism while population rises to 9 billion and beyond? If shopping really is an attempt to fill a spiritual void with a material possession then it is probably time to reconnect to the spiritual world. Ayurveda tells us to eat organic kale for a healthy body, and to get good sleep for a rested mind, but we can’t forget the spirit. This holiday season instead of worshipping at the church of the shopping mall, consider spending some time in the wilderness on a winter hike, or take a trip to a sunny destination to connect with nature. If you must shop then be mindful, and don’t forget to have a very happy Buy Nothing Day!

Related Articles:

Everything’s Connected: US Election results

Today I floated in a sensory deprivation pod

What color is a Sattvic Planet? 

 

Everything’s connected: US Election results

The phrase “everything’s connected” is often used within the spiritual community to describe their feelings and experiences on a higher level of consciousness. Ecological and Environmental Scientists also frequently use the phrase in reference to the cause and effect relationships between plants, animals, microorganisms, chemicals, climate, and many other factors that play a role in the web of life. This phrase also applies to Ayurveda, preventive medicine and human health. Recently, a visitor to this website commented on what he perceived as a lack of focus regarding the topics posted here. I appreciated this critique and interpreted it as, there is a lot of information being offered here beyond what you might find from a typical health site. In this fast paced modern world people are overwhelmed with information and they need to find quick and easy advice, so I understand his criticism. Posting an article about the US elections results may at first glance seem to be another out of focus topic, but hopefully the following will demonstrate that everything really is connected, including human health and American politics.

 

GMO Labeling campaign contributor Dr Bronner's

GMO Labeling supporter and campaign contributor Dr Bronner’s. From Facebook.com/drbronner

 

GMO Labeling

Some might say that if voters can’t approve GMO labeling in the foodie paradise that is Oregon then it can’t pass anywhere. However, the story is not that simple, specifically Monsanto and other agrichemical companies outspent their opponents by 12 million dollars and saturated the TV with their advertisements. Just as in Washington, surveys showed support for labeling in the weeks prior to the election, but in the end the Oregon measure lost by only 1%. What does it mean when corporations spend millions more than their opponents yet barely win? It demonstrates the power corporations have influencing important decisions that affect our food and health, and it also demonstrates that this fight is certainly not over. I imagine Bob Marley singing about Monsanto when he says:

 

“If you are the big tree, let me tell you that, we are the small axe, sharp and ready, ready to cut you down, to cut you down”

Lyrics for Small Axe, performed by Bob Marley

 

Bob Marley

From bobmarley.com

 

Recreational Cannabis

Speaking of Bob Marley… the pioneering spirit of the Pacific Northwest motivated voters there to blaze a new trail for the rest of the nation to follow, as they often do. The momentum generated by Colorado and Washington State continued as citizens in Oregon, Alaska and Washington DC voted to legalize the recreational use of Cannabis. Whether or not you decide to partake should be your decision alone, and not that of the government. Let’s be honest here, this is only a plant, and for a country to criminalize the consumption of Cannabis, yet declare itself “the land of the free, and home of the brave”, is quite simply ridiculous. Not only is Cannabis a plant, but it is also believed to have many medicinal properties. In this case the will of the voters prevailed partly due to a lack of major corporate opposition. Citizens in 4 US states now have safe and legal access to a natural plant medicine that has potential to replace pharmaceuticals and their associated harmful side effects. More importantly they can do this without having to get a prescription from a doctor which empowers them to take control of their health.

 

“So you’ve got to legalize it, and don’t criticize it, legalize it, yeah, yeah, and I will advertise it”

Lyrics from Legalize it, performed by Peter Tosh

 

The urban blues

The US map Wednesday morning looked like it was completely painted red, with a few blue dots where the major cities are. The red Republicans took control of the congress from the blue Democrats. How is this change of power connected to health and preventive medicine? A quick analysis of the Republican’s environmental philosophy should help answer that question. Common sense tells us that without a clean environment we have nothing, no air to breathe, water to drink, or food to eat. Yet the Republican philosophy seems to be the opposite; “remove the burdensome environmental regulations that prevent us from growing the economy” is their rallying call. Sure, we all benefit from a strong economy, but growing the economy while destroying the environment is a recipe for disaster. I suppose it all boils down to whether you believe that in the end technology will save us. Should we pollute our clean rivers to make money, and then spend that money building machines to clean our drinking water? This is the political party that calls climate change a hoax, this is the party that blocks the designation of wilderness areas, and this is the party that fought a national health care system until the bitter end. I might sound like a frustrated Democrat (I’m actually independent), but all I really want to know is why a party that calls themselves conservative seems to understand very little about conserving the natural resources that we all depend upon. Yes, everything is connected, and the people you vote for will either protect our environment or sell it to the highest bidder. The League of Conservation voters, not to be confused with the league of conservative voters, is a great resource this time of year. Their scorecards tell you exactly how the incumbent candidates previously voted on important environmental legislation.

 

“Tell me man, can you eat your money?”

Lyrics from Money, performed by The John Butler Trio

 

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

Was Agent Smith a Republican?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sattvic Nation?

Admittedly, the scope of this site can be quite wide at times, and while politics may seem completely unrelated to preventive medicine, this past election shows us that everything really is connected. How we vote determines whether we are eating GMO foods, have access to potentially medicinal plants, and choose leaders who are good stewards of our natural resources. We are what we eat, and yes we also are what we vote for.

 

Related Articles:

Occupy Farmer’s Markets!

Advertisements, you are what you watch

Apple 2.0 (the fruit) versus iPhone 6

 

 

Dietary Dissent is Patriotic

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

 ratm

In Ayurveda…

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!!!

Occupy Farmer’s Markets!

“Now let’s start by, making it clear, who is the enemy here, and let’s show them, that it’s not them, who is superior”

-From the lyrics for Marching the Hate Machines into the Sun, performed by Thievery Corporation and featuring The Flaming Lips

 

I have occasionally spoken negatively of corporations in previous articles posted on this website. With an introductory quote like the one above you must think I’m about to declare all corporations evil. Are they all evil, do we need to purge ourselves of their existence, and is there a better way of doing business in this world? The answers I believe are no, sometimes, and definitely yes, respectively. I would never make such a sweeping statement as to say that all corporations are bad, and as a matter of fact I have spent the past several months researching whether I want to start a business of my own. The following paragraphs attempt to briefly draw a connection between the role of modern corporations and our health since, after all, health and environment are the primary themes of this website.

Wall St versus Main St

The Occupy movement that swept across the US a couple years ago attempted to demonstrate, among many other ideas, the increasingly disproportionate amount of wealth acquired by the top 1% of Americans compared with the remainder of the population. Because money equates to power and influence in the American political system, the Occupy movement wanted to raise awareness of the control that a tiny minority exerted over a vast majority. Beyond these massive societal issues are questions such as what are the costs to our health and the planet’s health when profit is always placed as the number one pursuit of a publicly traded corporation. The dominant business model in America is without a doubt; profit first, people second, and planet third, at least to the extent that the customers and laws allow for. When the primary purpose of a publicly traded corporation is to make a profit then people and planet are often exploited. This exploitation will continue until the customers get upset and their negative perception of the company begins to reduce profit, or until the questionable practices are challenged in court. There must be a better way…

Planet first, people second, and profit third

What happens when a company tries to reverse the order of priorities mentioned above? Sometimes it proves to be quite successful such as when a company like Whole Foods thrives off the selling of natural and organic food. In this case we even saw conventional companies like Walmart trying follow in the steps of Whole Foods, as was the case when they attempted to get into the business of selling some organic food. Similarly we see the launch of pioneering electric car company Tesla being followed by the other major car manufacturers attempting to develop more efficient and less polluting cars of their own. I use these examples to show that it is possible to have profitable corporations that can provide their customers with the services they need while limiting their impact on human and planetary health in the process. Sure, we could spend all day debating whether Whole Foods and Tesla have truly sustainable business models, but you get the point, they are a step in the right direction.

We are what we buy

It can be so easy to always point our fingers at the big bad corporations when in reality we should often be pointing our fingers at the mirror as the number one enemy we face on our path towards health and sustainability. We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”, but what if we shifted that to “you are what you buy”. Corporations may seem evil for their destructive practices, and for selling their disease causing products, but the reality is that they would not exist if we didn’t continuously give them our money. This of course brings us to the slogan, “vote with your dollars”. While the top 1% of the wealthiest Americans are clearly voting with their dollars by lobbying politicians, the remainder of the 99% can also use our money to vote. No, we probably can’t afford to make a major contribution to a Senator’s election campaign, but we can purchase products that are non-toxic, low impact, healthy, all natural, environmentally responsible, organic, fair traded, and/or locally produced. Better yet, we can exert our influence over corporations by simply not buying a product, and I’m not only talking about boycotts, I’m also talking about reducing our consumption; “minimize it, and don’t criticize it”.

eat local

In Ayurveda…

One of the major benefits of Ayurvedic preventive medicine is that there is little need for major corporations. This system of medicine has been in existence for thousands of years, long before the modern corporation was ever conceived. We may need a few companies to responsibly import herbs and spices to the US, but other than that most Ayurvedic lifestyle practices can be performed using commonly available foods. These lifestyle practices can be performed by you alone, or maybe with the guidance of a practitioner depending on your level of knowledge. Everyone wants to be healthy and happy, but if that is what we really want then we need to stop and ask whether the food and products we purchase are actually making us healthy, and contributing to our happiness. More often than not we are buying products that we don’t really need, or even worse, products that are destroying our health and the health of the Earth. There are many small scale, local companies that are genuinely trying to run responsible businesses, and it is important that we give them our support. The Occupy movement started a conversation in America that continues to this day, now it is time to take advantage of the summer season and Occupy our Farmer’s Markets.

Happy Summer Solstice!!!

 

 

The “Integrity Food” Revolution

 

WATCH THIS EPISODE!

WATCH THIS EPISODE!

“A sure sign sir, that we live in a mad mad world is when a person has sane ideas and he comes across as a revolutionary”

-Joe Rogan referring to Joel Salatin

Industrial versus biological agriculture

Charismatic farmer Joel Salatin recently appeared on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast to discuss the philosophy behind his successful business, Polyface Farms, and the current ideology of the modern industrial food system. Salatin first came to widespread attention in the US when he was featured in Michael Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Palatin begins the interview with Rogan by making the revolutionary claim that animals are supposed to move. To anybody who has ever seen a deer run, or a bird fly, this statement seems so obvious that it is not even worth saying. Yet a majority of our entire food system is based around the practice of animal confinement where animals are indoors standing on concrete floors without access to such basic requirements as sunshine, fresh air or green grass. Some call it the industrial food system, and others call it factory farming, either way Salatin describes the primary flaw of that type of agriculture as viewing animals from a mechanical perspective instead of a biological perspective. Raising animals is not the same as building iPhones, and Salatin provides countless examples of why that is.

Nutrient dense and pasture raised

To briefly summarize the Polyface Farm philosophy, Salatin raises his animals outdoors on green grass, and he does this by letting multiple species of animal access a portion of pasture in successive waves. First the cows pass, then the layer chickens, followed by the meat chickens, next come the turkeys, and finally the pigs. All this movement is achieved through a form of intensive management that utilizes simple electric fencing. To highlight the benefits, Salatin describes the high nutrient density of pastured pork versus factory pork. The pork industry had the famous slogan, “pork, the other white meat”, yet the absurdity of this slogan is evident in the fact that pork should be pink and not white. The pink color results from blood flow through the tissues and occurs only when the animals get regular exercise. This pink color also is an indicator of iron in the meat, so the pork industry was attempting to sell their product by boasting of the low nutrient content of their meat. Salatin provided many other examples such as the high folic acid levels of pastured versus factory eggs, and the high riboflavin level of pastured versus factory beef. I find it fascinating that Salatin claims riboflavin has calming effects, we don’t each much pastured beef in the US, and we don’t seem like a very calm society do we? A demonstration of food as medicine perhaps?

Antibiotic free

Increasingly people are becoming familiar with the food label, “free of antibiotics”, but have you ever wondered why all our food has antibiotics in it to begin with? According to Salatin the excessive use of antibiotics is simply a result of highly crowded animal confinement. The poor air quality in these dirty environments is abrasive to animal lungs, and as a result pathogens are able to invade the animals through their damaged lungs. Rather than viewing animals from a biological perspective the industrial food industry views animal sickness as a mechanical problem. Instead of simply giving the animals access to fresh air they decided to give them a steady diet of drugs to fight off the inevitable pathogen illnesses. Bacteria are not all bad, Salatin explains that giving the animals access to pasture, or even using compostable bedding are simple methods that can be used to let the good micro organisms defeat the bad. In fact, he states that the default mode of nature is for health and not disease. We only perceive this constant battle against disease because we have developed systems that allow pathogens to thrive.

Artificial people

I really hope you can take the time to listen to this podcast because my summary can’t adequately convey the importance of Salatin’s message, which is basically that the industrial system of agriculture is bad for the animals, bad for the planet, and therefore bad for us. He explained his philosophy best by paraphrasing Sir Albert Howard, known as one of the founders of modern organic agriculture: “when you use artificial manure (fertilizers) in the soil it makes artificial plants, which make artificial animals, which then become food that makes artificial people who can only stay alive using artificials”. Howard said that during the 1940s, and that is where we are today isn’t it? We are a society of people heavily dependent on pharmaceuticals.

Old knowledge seems new

From Ayurveda we now have access to knowledge of a preventive medical system that uses food as medicine. These concepts seems new to many of us because we are unfamiliar with them, yet they have existed for thousands of years. I see parallels to this in the paleo food movement, which is now adopting diet and lifestyle practices based on the daily routines of our ancient ancestors. Joel Salatin, who uses the term “Integrity Food” to describe his style of agriculture, is another example of this since he is now seen as a revolutionary farmer in this age of industrial agriculture. The funny thing is that he often borrows his ideas from agriculture books written prior to the 1950s. This has all been done before, in fact it was the only way that it was done before, but our view of the natural world has been so twisted and dominated by profit driven corporations that we think of Salatin as a pioneer. This is exactly what the Rogan quote at the beginning was referring to. We do live in a mad mad world, but fortunately with a little extra effort and education we can still have access to a high quality, and environmentally responsible food supply.

For more about this topic read my earlier post: Confessions of an Ayurvedic Counselor: Part 2, Meat

 

 

What color is a Sattvic Planet?

Seriously???

Seriously???

 

Red?

Sherwin Williams seems to think the answer is red. At first glance this logo appears to be a vintage sign from the 1940s. This is one of those logos that make you think how ridiculous people were to believe what they believed back then. It reminds me of the old advertisements touting the health benefits of smoking cigarettes, spraying DDT, or any other product that has not survived the tests of science and time. However, this logo is the same one that they use today, in fact just a couple miles from my home they have a store with multiple large signs in front displaying this exact logo. Perhaps I’m overreacting, but I am amazed that in the year 2014 there is a major corporation with a logo advocating that we cover the planet with synthetic chemicals. All you can really do is laugh at the absurdity of their goal, but I probably shouldn’t be too surprised given the state of the world today. The Japanese atomic energy agency initiated the covering of the Pacific Ocean with nuclear radiation 3 years ago at Fukushima. British Petroleum was busy 4 years ago covering the Gulf of Mexico with oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. For the past 20 years Monsanto has been on a mission to cover your dinner plate with genetically modified organisms; see The difference between Apple 2.0 (the fruit) and iPhone 6 for my view on GMOs. When we see those vintage signs, logos and advertisements from an earlier era and wonder how our ancestors could have been so foolish, we should probably pause for a moment and ask ourselves if anything has really changed. The truth is that it has not. One chemical gets banned, while 100 new chemicals get invented and enter the market. You might feel good about your newly purchased BPA free product, but has anybody stopped to wonder what are the health effects of the new chemical they used to replace BPA? Enough of all that; let us move on to a lighter subject.

Earth Day

The title of this post asks what color a Sattvic Planet would be? The answer of course is GREEN! Earth Day was last Tuesday, so I’m a few days late, but on a Sattvic Planet every day would be Earth Day. I know that may sound cliché, but think about it, every action you take and every purchase you make has an environmental health consequence, and a personal health consequence. Don’t just ride your bike to work one day per year, ride as often as possible because it not only improves the air quality, but it also improves your quality of life.

In Ayurveda…

Sattva is a Sanskrit word derived from Sat which means Truth, and Tva which means Your, so sattva refers to Your Truth. The word sattva is used in Ayurveda to describe a state of mind that has many desirable qualities including: clarity, intelligence, balance, purity, and truthfulness. In Ayurveda attaining a sattvic mind is accomplished through a meditative process that simply involves looking within and discovering your truth, or your purpose. A Sattvic Planet is a concept of a world that we could all create together if as individuals we all began to attain a sattvic mind. In other words, global change starts at the individual level, and we can’t expect to solve society’s greatest problems until we achieve true personal health. On my About page I stated that you can’t have personal health without environmental health, and you can’t have environmental health without personal health. Since Earth Day was this past week I thought now would be a good time to revisit that statement, and remind people to stop and think about the current condition of the environment and what impact it is having on us. Also, think about the current condition of you and what impact you are having on the environment. Stay tuned for a future post where I discuss charismatic farmer Joel Salatin and his vision of creating a greener planet. Until then,

HAPPY EARTH DAY!

 

Do you want to know the secret?

“With a proper diet and lifestyle there is no need for medicine,

but without a proper diet and lifestyle then medicine is useless”

food as medicine

Everybody has the answer

What exactly is the secret to feeling great, having abundant energy, losing weight, and looking attractive? We all want to know that secret, don’t we? Well I’m here to tell you that I have that secret. By now you have probably noticed that I’m not the only one claiming to possess this knowledge. There are hundreds of companies fighting for your attention and trying to sell you their product. Pharmaceutical companies manufacture a pill for nearly any ailment you have. It’s so convenient, all you have to do is swallow a little pill once per day and let the benefits come rolling in. Supplement companies promise you that the most recently discovered plant from the depths of the rainforest is the best superfood to come along in decades. Modern chemical laboratories using sophisticated technology have discovered ways to isolate what is thought to be the primary ingredient responsible for health benefits. Using these methods you can now take super concentrated doses of isolated biochemicals extracted from plants. Weight loss diets guarantee that you will shed pounds in weeks if only you follow their special plan, why not give it a try? Energy drinks have become enormously popular with their claims to boost your energy by simply drinking a can of their special blend. Who wouldn’t want to have the energy of a bull, a monster, or a rock star? If an energy drink isn’t really your style, don’t worry because there is a coffeeshop on nearly every corner. What an amazing world we live in to be surrounded by so many options available to instantly improve your life. Isn’t life grand?

My secret

I’m here to tell you people that I have the secret, are you ready for this? The secret is that there is no secret. The secret doesn’t come in a pill, jar, can, or cup. Do you really think it could be that easy? In what can only be described as pure marketing genius, corporation after corporation, for year after year have repeatedly been able to convince us that they have the secret to all our problems, and all you have to do is swallow. It’s effortless, fast and convenient. The best part is that you don’t have to change anything else in your life, just keep living exactly as you do now. In the process, they have taken billions of dollars from us, and our health has arguably gotten worse over the years.

Food as Medicine

When I said there is no secret I was not being totally clear. There is actually a very simple way to feel great, have abundant energy, lose weight, and look attractive; it is called Food as Medicine. For full disclosure I should say that is the title of a book my instructor Todd Caldecott wrote, but I’m not here to sell his book, though if you want to read it I would highly recommend it. Food as Medicine is more than the title of a book; it is a concept, and the concept is that optimal health is available to all of us if we simply put more effort into how we shop, prepare and eat our food. One of the first articles I published was called What is the number one step you can take to improve your health? If you read that post then you would know that my answer to that question was simply to cook your meals.

In Ayurveda…

If only we knew what the corporations have known all along, there is not much money to be made in freshly prepared nutritious meals. How much profit is there in steamed kale? Not much, but if you harvest the acai berries from the Amazon rainforest, or extract curcumin from the turmeric root that is where the dollars add up. Let me be very clear, Ayurveda is a form of preventive medicine very much dependent on plant based medicine, so I’m not saying that these companies selling superfoods are 100% wrong. There are however, very clear distinctions; let’s look at curcumin for example. In Ayurveda you might add turmeric powder to your meal during preparation, but you would never extract isolated chemicals from the plant because the benefit of the turmeric comes when it is eaten as a whole food. Also, in Ayurveda these plant based medicines would not be taken so randomly. Instead, specific herbs would be prescribed to specific people in specific situations for limited durations. Would you rather pay a few dollars for a substantial supply of turmeric powder from the bulk section at the grocery store, or $30 for a couple weeks supply of curcumin from the supplement store? One of my instructors, Dr Suhas, once told our class an old adage “with a proper diet and lifestyle there is no need for medicine, but without a proper diet and lifestyle then medicine is useless”. If you read those wise words carefully there is a powerful message that I think requires little explanation. Now that you know the secret do yourself a favor, save some money and start buying fresh and nutritious foods that you prepare and eat daily, then watch the benefits take effect.