Pesticides, monoculture, health and the human mind...

Pesticide spraying...

Pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, insecticides and disinfectants have become commonplace practice in the last century and only now are being recognized for their greater negative impact on humans and our environment.

Pesticides, etc. are a broad class of substances used to reduce or eliminate certain plants, molds and insects that may damage crops and thus impinge on profit margin for farmers and corporations.

The residues of these substances are found everywhere: traces of ‘Round up’ are found in your organic arugula salad and most organic and certainly most (if not all) non-organic foods. Many (70 or more) widely used pesticides are classified as probable or possible carcinogens.

The residue of chemicals from pesticides, etc. drastically diminishes a healthy intestinal flora and thus weakens our immune system, as a healthy intestinal flora is the first instance of our immune function. In other words it can open the door for many other disease to arise when our immune function is weakened.[1]

Many pesticides, fungicides, insecticides, etc. are designed to shut down the mitochondria (the energy producing factory within the cell) of the plants and insects, which in succession induces cell death.[2]

Unfortunately, this mechanism works the same way in humans: we ingest small amounts of pesticides in our food and our mitochondria will be attacked in the same way as the plants and insects. We are generally larger in size than the plants or insects, thus the pesticides do not impact us as imminently, however there is an accumulative effect.

Pesticides are known to contribute to the rise of certain cancers, especially non-Hodkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, multiple myeloma and soft tissue sarcoma (and others). They are also known for their contributing effects on depression, hormonal imbalances and other mental/emotional disorders.

In a downstream effect we also impair the natural balance of our environment, even to the point where we possibly risk our food supply: bees are our #1 pollinators and certain pesticides have a harmful effect on bees, especially their larvae.

When you grow your own food — and I encourage everyone to do so -, I would suggest avoiding pesticides or if necessary looking for natural alternatives to eliminate pests using natural ingredients such as vinegar, lemon and essential oils for example. Also lawn care is best to be natural –‘Round up’ residue otherwise will trickle into our ground water and ultimately end up in our drinking water supplies.

The quality of the soil in the garden/yard also makes a difference: better and healthier soil equals stronger and healthier plants with less damage arising from insects and other pests and weeds. Keeping a few weeds in the garden and yard, actually strengthens the plants — monoculture makes plants more vulnerable to be invaded by insects/bacteria, etc.

Monoculture in the farming sector is unfortunately also a reflection of the monoculture of the modern mind: the starkness, lackluster and boredom of the mind that is largely preoccupied with making a living (or escapism). We are being fed a (tem)plate of constant fear: fear of the ‘pests’ — which plays out in our lives as fear of not having enough resources (like money, food, shelter, healthcare, love, education, etc.).

The root of this fear is not feeling good enough about oneself — a belief in being sinister at the core of the being. The outside world seemingly always reinforces this false belief. The truth is, however, that our inherent goodness and value cannot gain footing in our reflection of our outside world as long as we are stuck in a fear-loop that solely allows us to see threats reflected everywhere we turn.

Ultimately the mind becomes dull from overextended indulgence in this kind of monoculture (land)scape. How about exploring new ways of doing, being and thinking? Even if just for a moment: leaving the fear behind, allowing space for some weeds to grow and insects to fly, knowing that they are in fact necessary for the health of the overall crop that is meant to be harvested.

Going back to the practical end once again: if you can buy local, organic food, it is a good practice to do so and encourage your regular farmer neighbors to reduce or eliminate the use of pesticides, etc. — conversations and requests create a change in behavior.

If you do not have access to organic produce/foods, soaking and/or properly washing foods can somewhat reduce exposure to these toxins.

In my opinion, in order to end the desert of the mind of our world society: healthy, organic, natural and wholesome food should be a right to every person, not a commodity. Inspiration begins where fear ends.

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As long as basic food is sold and distributed as a commodity, profit margin practices and exploitation practices will be the norm. These practices destroy our living environment, our health and our mental/emotional capacity to become the genial inventors, think tanks and brotherhood of humanity we can potentially become. Let us create greater change one individual at a time to enjoy each other and our planet for as long as possible.

[1] Samsel, A., and Seneff, S. 2013. Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Page 1443. Entropy, 15, 1416–1463; doi:10.3390/e15041416

[2] Kim, Y.H.; Hong, J.R.; Gil, H.W.; Song, H.Y.; Hong, S.Y. 2013. Mixtures of glyphosate and surfactant TN20 accelerate cell death via mitochondrial damage-induced apoptosis and necrosis. Toxicol. In Vitro, 27, 191–197.

Red Blood Cells

Did you know?

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Red blood cells literally shoot around the body, taking less than 60 seconds to complete a full circuit. This means that each of our red blood cells makes 86400 trips around our body every day, delivering oxygen and keeping the body energized. Each cell lives for approximately 40 days, before being replaced by a new one. Which means to improve the quality and strength of your red blood cells it takes 40 days of continuous effort either thru food or lifestyle changes:

Some strengthening foods for the red blood cells are azuki beans, red radishes, nori sea vegetable, leafy green vegetables such as kale, collards, mustard greens and many more.

Physical activity, such as going for 30 - 40 minute walk daily will also tremendously benefit the circulatory system, and the red blood cells in particular!

Food to minimize: excess sugar, sweets of any kind, alcohol, strong spices, sodas, high caffeinated drinks, excess dairy and animal food.

More vegetables, please!

More vegetables, please!

I vote for more vegetables, please! They may not be the lead character of the play, but without excellent supporting roles even the best play can be a flop.

Why more vegetables? Our diets are so full of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, but where is the stuff (the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants) that makes the carbs, fats and proteins burn cleanly in the body? In vegetables! Many times when traveling or short on time we turn to restaurants to provide us with nourishment. It is clear that the trend has veered away from fast food restaurants –because even the fast food restaurants are changing to include healthier options. A regular iceberg lettuce salad may not be enough to make balance with a heavy, fried animal food dish or the white flour and sugar dessert many of us are consuming daily. Having a featured vegetable dish on the menu regularly may be the deciding factor of bringing people into the restaurant these days — especially women.

OK, yes, I most often find tomatoes, potatoes, pepper, eggplant and salads on restaurant menus.

However, the nightshade vegetables — especially the homogenized hothouse varieties — the tomato or French Fry (but also peppers and eggplants) are making our blood in the body very acidic, so they are not real champions in detoxification and cleaning the body.

Consuming the nightshade family vegetables is rarely a memorable event, but traditional and indigenous foods will leave an imprint in consciousness: quite literally, because many of them will improve blood quality and thus improve brain function. How about a locally grown cauliflower, or the locally grown homey carrot — which in my opinion is way underrated — mostly because the profit margin on carrots is very low and thus influential companies are not interested in spending the money on paying for research of the benefits. However, both the root and the greens of the carrot are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals which our bodies need. And carrots can be prepared in most delicious ways.

Including locally grown traditional vegetables can also be a great way to emphasize the local character of a region and what better way than experiencing a region’s distinct character via ingesting it? For example, here in the North East we have a lot of burdock growing. Burdock has a long list of benefits for the body, such as blood purifying, slowing the absorption of sugars into the blood stream, it’s diuretic qualities, it has anti cancer properties, it reduces inflammation, strengthens the nervous system and more. It’s distinct earthy flavor is also somewhat a reflection of people’s characters here in the North — a bit wild, earthy and independent.

When I give cooking classes, I include a lot of vegetable dishes into the menus. And the response is overwhelmingly positive and clients leave the table feeling good. And feeling good makes customers return.

Speaking to local growers and asking them what traditional vegetables they are growing is often quite an eye opening experience because of the variety of vegetables they are growing. If the budget of the restaurant kitchen allows, featuring a different vegetable every week or at least every season would be wonderful. Including more variety of colors is not only attractive but also indicating more nutrient richness in the food. Pointing out specific benefits of the featured vegetable dish to gently educate the customers, may even entice the person on the fence to try something new! And why not think of pairing wine or beverage with specific vegetable dishes?

So, I encourage every one: more vegetable side dishes, please!