I like to think of myself as an intuitive person. I have always been a good listener to what my body has been telling me. Sometimes it takes a few painful months and then I realize – hey – something isn’t quite right here – what can I do about it?
Are you a good listener? I think these days we tend to think that the small things can be resolved with a pill from the doctor and then we can go on with our merry lives. But I am starting to believe these small things are really important symptoms of a larger problem with our bodies – our bodies are trying to tell us something and will tell us slowly and surely until we listen…first as small things and then as something you are forced to listen to…things like a hospital visit for pneumonia, a heart attack, Type II diabetes or even cancer. So what were my small things? Asthma, allergies, frequent colds and sinus infections, hormonal imbalance, IBS, etc. My list is pretty typical these days – I bet some of you have the same issues plus others like depressions, ADD, gallstones, autoimmune issues, insomnia, being overweight…the list goes on and on.
As I listened more closely over the years I started to tie food to the list of things impacting my body. I did elimination diets of wheat, soy and dairy. None of this really worked. As I started getting on the ‘go green, victory garden veggie/farm’ kick, I was getting a very large box of farm vegetables each week from my CSA (community supported agriculture). This was supposed to be good from all angles – for my health and for the good of my local community. We, as a family, were eating a lot more veggies. Good right? It was easy – cook a veggie from the fridge plus some grain (either rice, pasta or bread). Insert meat when available but it wasn’t required. I certainly wasn’t a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination but I felt a little pride when I read about ‘Meatless Mondays‘ – whatever that tells you.
But I listened to my body and my body was begging for meat and fat. I could tell this was what my body needed and when I felt this way – I would cook meat or eat fat and I would feel better.
Through this blog, I have been contacted with a lot of questions and somewhat surprisingly to me, many of the questions have come from vegans or vegetarians who are literally repulsed by meat. Why would they want to talk to me when I write about saturated fat so often? Whatever the reason, I realized I needed to know more about vegetarianism and veganism. I had a hard time understanding this choice so I rationalized it as their blood type not *needing* meat.
Being ever curious, this enticed me to read a book called ‘The Vegetarian Myth‘. This book was written by a former vegan and vegetarian for over 20 years. It is very enlightening. The author didn’t eat anything that had a mother or a face and was ethically against domestication of animals in any form or of killing anything for the food on her plate. But what she got in return was not just poor health (depression and back pain) but also a good lesson on what it really means to only eat plant foods and what that does to our ecosystems. I wouldn’t have realized this just 3 short years ago prior to planting my own garden and the author didn’t either until she started growing her own food – plants need nutrients too…they come from the soil. So just put some fertilizer on it – right? Well – there are basically two options for fertilizer – that which comes from animals (manure) and that which comes from fossil fuels – an impossible dilemma for a vegan.
This started a long process of epiphanies for the vegan author. How to be sustainable without using manure or fossil fuels led to investigations of agricultural methods and what we as a people had to kill in order to grow the food we eat – whether it be monocultures of soy, wheat, corn and rice or just a small backyard veggie garden – plants have to eat and drink just like us. What did it take to clear the land to plant those crops? What animals had to die when their habitat was cleared? What happens through irrigation processes to river and wetlands? Apparently a lot has happened to our wetlands and rivers including the Mississippi which used to be a lot more grand and didn’t flood the surrounding communities like it does now. Eventually the author gave in and starting using chickens to help manage her insect problems and to enrich her soil and this led to her finally ditching the whole vegan thing when she realized that short of becoming nomads/hunter/gatherers again (not enough land to do that anymore) domesticated animals are really the only way to run somewhat sustainable agriculture. A lot of new things to ponder for sure and I am only 20% done with the book.
This has obviously caused me to think a bit more on my views of the terms: local, organic and sustainable. I guess I now need to expand my intuition to include both listening to my body and my mind. But in the end, I don’t like to complicate things much – I think as humans we are just looking to survive and our bodies know what we need instinctively. And isn’t intuition pretty instinctual? What about you – do you listen to your body or does your mind get in the way?