Diet Diet Everywhere…

I’m bombarded by questions about diet, and tales from various people about what X-Famous Expert Scientist said about diet, “proving” that blah blah blah is good (or bad) for you and/or causes any number of things (cancer, diabetes, overweight, six-pack abs, bad attitudes, adrenal fatigue, sex enhancements, white teeth, positive mental attitudes…).

The most recent was about a vegan diet being the ultimate preventive cure for cancer. The Famous Expert Scientist was speaking on NPR, so they must be right. I didn’t bother to ask for the specifics.

The “expert pundit syndrome” is typical of our age. It’s caused by two things: Attentional-Focus Hyperactivity Disorder (AFHD), and Chronic Disconnection Disorder (CDD).

Here’s what happened – in the mid-1500′s AD, we re-realized we could discern useful things by breaking apart elements of what we observed into smaller parts. By the mid-1700′s AD, this habit had become chronic. The people who focused their attention in this way were named “scientists.”

Some very useful tools arose as a result of this method of attentional focus. The problem is that we had already developed AFHD by this point, so we forgot the millions of pieces of totally useless crap that also arose as a result of this behavior.

Not only that, but also being CDD (which leads to egotism, btw…can I use more acronyms?) means that we also managed to attribute tools that were the result of LUCK to “human discovery.” I mean, it was humans who (luckily) discovered the (lucky) things…(e.g., penicillin) that became wonderful “inventions.”

Granted, there’s something to be said for a lot of failure. Just look at the lightbulb. Edison failed hundreds of millions of times, and stole other people’s ideas and hard work, to get to the light bulb, which now allows us to ignore our diurnal circadian rhythm…improving the quality of our life…

(aside – Some other humans had already discovered local compounds that provided similar beneficial results to penicillin and the lightbulb…but they did it over the course of hundreds or thousands of years of living within their habitat and learning the land…those dummies).

The Long Road
Around 1850 some of the pieces started clicking together. We started playing with all of those little factoids and tools we developed like a big Tinker Toy set, and started making some VERY interesting things.

Of course, in the process we had to agree to let our AFHD and CDD worsen…I mean, that’s the pound of flesh…that’s the price. Play the role, pay the toll.

Being so enamored of ourselves (Chronic and Severe CDD) we pounded ourselves on the chest and slapped one another on the back for the great tools we’d made…of course, ignoring that it takes as much time and energy to make the tools as it does to simply do the task itself “the old way” (sans “inventions”). We aren’t really good at improving efficiency, just means. Unless it comes to calculating Pi to the hundredth place. But then again…

Looks like the brain could do it on its own…

The disease spread to all corners of the “civilized” world, naturally, and infected every branch of society.

Soon, irony of ironies, we were even pumping out individuals who called themselves “efficiency experts” – who prided themselves on spending countless hours laboring over miniscule ways to save time doing tasks that continue to take too much time once they’ve been “efficient-ed?” (These days they’re called “consultants,” the ultimate expression of AFHD and CDD. Their process is identical to the old snake-who-eats-his-own-tail…).

In “science,” disciplines were split apart. Inquiry was split apart. Genes were split apart. Attention fragmented, so that it could be “focused” more.

And we come to THE NOW, where Famous Expert Scientists tell us that eating vegan diets will stem cancer.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics
It’s hard to call it a lie, because I honestly don’t believe the FES’s realize what they’re doing. Nor do I think they have harmful or negative intentions (we’re not talking about politicians in this post…). They’re just following the ways they were brought up in.

And that is where I blame them.

A “scientist” who does not question the “common sense” of their field is not a scientist at all, just a follower, a lackey, a slacker.

The Truth About Diet
There is no diet without habitat. There is no animal life without habitat (in spite of what sci-fi movies might tell you).

You are disconnected from your habitat in every way imaginable. If you are like the “average American,” you’re spending upwards of 4 hours per day watching TV. You are disconnected from your habitat.

And your diet is no different.

The old saw “Think Globally, Act Locally” (while, again, well-intentioned) is wrong. Think Locally, Act Locally. Then “global” takes care of itself.

Eat Your Habitat
The “scientists” (famous or not) do not know what causes cancer. They know correlations and statistics, but not causes. Even the most AFHD/CDD scientist these days is beginning to suspect that cancer arises as the result of multiple stressors acting on an organism, disrupting the organismic unity – the internal habitat.

To claim that a disconnected dietary practice can stem the tide of a multifactorial disease – the causes of which are linked precisely to thinking and action that are disconnected from habitat – should be considered criminal.

If you eat your habitat, you engage in your habitat. You must find the food local to you. It is only food that is in season.

Suddenly, you become concerned with the way land is treated in your local area. You become concerned with the quality, quantity, and sources of water local to you.

No-Farm Farming
We have a tiny “urban farm” of our own. We grow a lot of veggies on less than a quarter acre. We have five chickens who provide us with fresh eggs.

But you don’t have to do that. (Though I really think you should).

You can simply source the farms local to your area. Let’s be generous and say within a 200-mile radius (though we should say 50, or 100 max).

Find your local CSA and get a box of fresh veggies from your locale once per week.

Honestly, growing your own stuff isn’t that hard. It just takes a few minutes per day, and some time learning. And it helps to get involved in the small-farm/homesteading community (in person, online is okay, in person is better).

You end up reconnecting to the land. To your habitat. To your neighbors.

As far as AFHD and CDD are concerned, there are alternatives:

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The Holistic Perspective – AHS, Exuberant Animal, Blue Zones

In his most recent post, Frank Forencich writes about his experience at the Ancestral Health Symposium, and mourns the loss of holistic perspective in the AHS and in our culture in general.

Frank’s post is fantastic. If you’ haven’t read it, you should:

Man Does Not Live By Food Alone

It also is a reflection of the exact thing I was talking about in a recent post: Perspective – What Are You Missing?

In his post Frank says the AHS has (like the rest of our society) become too “white” – refined, clean, abstracted. (If not, for me, also…too Caucasian…).

He writes:

We get a feel for the state of the movement by noticing what we don’t see at AHS or on the typical Paleo blogs. For example, we don’t see native peoples or hear their perspective. We don’t hear much conversation about the body-habitat relationship. There’s not much talk about the hunting and gathering experience or about animal behavior. We don’t hear about sensation or the role of the nervous system. No one talks about bioregionalism, one of the most powerful concepts in the Paleo experience. Few people talk about our spiritual connection with the land or one another. Rarely do we see poetry, art, dance, dirt, sweat, emotion or blood.

Of course, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s convergence in our thoughts. My post on perspective came after a conversation with Frank about his experience at AHS. We both probably were writing our respective pieces at the exact same time.

Paleo Diet…
I’ve written my own thoughts on diet and the “Paleo” fad on this blog on several occasions (here’s onehere’s another). In short, I see it as yet another mindless-follower activity…the type of least-common-denominator herd-mentality clique behavior our culture has come to depend on (and excel at?).

Simply: the ideal diet is bioregion-specific. Procure and eat foods from within a 100 (or 200, if you must) mile radius of yourself. Foods that aren’t processed (“white”) or petro-chemical-based (factory-farmed, sprayed, etc.). Then you’re eating in synch with your environment, and probably relying on significantly fewer fossil fuels in the process. If you’re truly “paleo,” you’re also growing and/or catching/killing some (most) of that food yourself.

I know, I know…this isn’t the popular way. It’s not the “mode.” It isn’t the Zeitgeist. The Zeitgeist is the five-day email argument I had with some desk-jockey in NYC about the “paleo”-ness of his “paleo” diet which relied on frozen venison imported from some random farms and “free range” eggs bought at Whole Foods (probably along with some “paleo” strawberries grown in Brazil).

Blue Zones
I’ve also written about the Blue Zones on this blog before (search for more entries on that topic). The “Blue Zones” are areas around the world where people live to be 100 or older. Of course, “researchers” “studied” these peoples and wrote articles and a book about them, and made recommendations like “eat more beans,” trying to create “reps-and-sets” protocols to follow so you, too, can live to be 100 (for why?).

But, again, the real facts are much simpler.

These peoples live bioregionally specific lives. They live in supportive communities that have regular rituals and gatherings. They walk and do physical movement a lot. They eat a bioregion-specific diet (that many of them or their communities take direct part in growing/harvesting).

I know hierarchical thinking is attractive…but it is the Dark Side of human thought. It will suck you in and corrupt your spirit, and turn you against the Light.

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