Sunday, 28 March 2010

A rant about health care and the question: Local or raw/organic?

Oh my, is JP ever going to regret giving me Food Inc. to watch. Because since I watched that on Friday night, I’ve bounced over to Raw for 30 Days and other videos like the amazing FoodMatters and another called Healing Cancer from the Inside Out.

Nothing will make you want to become a vegan like sitting down and watching all of these films. And nothing will make you so frustrated when you think about people who you love who have died of cancer and other illnesses while under the “care” of conventional medicine.

Today is Renee’s birthday. Renee was a blogger who recently died of stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer that had spread to her stomach and other parts of her body. During her final weeks and days her daughter used her mom's blog to update people on Renee's condition. Renee was a kind and vibrant woman in the middle of her life and instead of health she died long, painful, suffering-filled death.

I remember a while back a post on her blog, sometime after “the bats” in her stomach (this is how she described the feeling) had kicked into high gear and this was making it difficult for her to keep food down. There was something about how she couldn’t even keep down yogurt. And now I think to myself: what on earth is a woman with cancer doing eating yogurt or milk products of any kind, when cancer loves nothing more than to eat up all those milk sugars and grow and grow and grow.

My grandmother, who suffers from COPD, is now on a host of medications that treat a list of ailments. I know that changing her diet to one high in raw vegetables and green juices, while also eliminating dairy, caffeine and wheat, would greatly improve her quality of life. Yet I also know that it will never happen. Because change is hard, and her habits are utterly ingrained in her mind.

Where the hell is the nutritional counselling in our western medical system? It’s terrible enough that someone you care about should suffer, but it is worse to know how that suffering could have been reduced or even alleviated with a change in diet.
Problem # 2: Local vs. organic or raw.

I am involved with both the local raw food club and the Edinburgh Slow Food group. The raw food movement includes lots of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds and freshly made green juices. The problem is that most of the foods that I need for this raw food diet are not grown locally, or even in the UK. If they are organic they are often shipped from even further away. The only time that I can get fresh, locally grown greens is in the summer (with the exception of Scottish kale) and fruit is certainly restricted to the high season. In the winter there are root vegetables, but those aren’t as good raw, and too many cooked potatoes make me feel unwell.

My body loves me when I eat a diet that is high in foods like lettuce, tomatoes, and spinach, however I can’t get those locally for most of the year.

What I can get locally all year round is a lot of meat, dairy products and bread, none of which my body likes in any quantity and all of which I know are bad for my hormone health and PCOS symptoms.

So what do I do? Eating lots of fresh, raw veggies and fruit is the way to good health, but if you live in a northern climate, it also means you are contributing to global warming because all your food is being flown in from abroad.

Sorry this is so long. I just needed to ramble and vent. Anyone have any thoughts on any of this?


Dale said...

Since you ask -- yeah. Buy the stuff that's flown in. If enough people do that, they'll start growing the stuff locally (insofar as they can.) You're not singlehandedly responsible for fixing global warming.

As for knowing what people should eat: most people think they know that, and since they think a wide variety of contradictory things, they can't all be right. The environment of industrial civilization is obviously highly carcinogenic, but that doesn't mean that dialing back any particular piece of it, or even all of it, will help any one particular person cope with their cancer. So I guess here too it feels to me like you're shouldering more responsibility than you need to or ought to. Eat what you think you should and leave other people to eat what they think they should. In my experience people have zero receptivity to criticism of their diet, anyway. There's no point :-)

PurestGreen said...

Thanks, Dale. I suppose the best thing I can do is be enthusiastic about the food discoveries I have found, and if some people are interested to know more, I can share. :)

EcoGrrl said...

how about canning and freezing summer harvests so you have access to these yummies all year round?

lakeviewer said...

We should all be talking about this and coming up with better food choices.

You just gave me an idea for a post. Thanks!

PurestGreen said...

EG: Don't know about canning because I'm space limited but I will be trying to freeze some of the summer berries this year. And I will be sprouting a lot more over the winter, which should help.

Lw - I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Dale said...

yikes, just reread my comment & I was so grumpy! forgive me. I've received from a lot of food advice, in my time, most of it bad, and I guess it's soured me.

Cheryl said...

I've been slowly giving up certain foods. I gave up caffeine last year, which I still miss like crazy. And I've slowly cut down on meat and wheat. Dairy and sugar will be the hardest to give up, though, especially with ice cream season coming up.

I wish I made the extra trip to my local organic grocery. But I hate grocery shopping and prefer to get everything at Trader Joe's or not at all. I agree with Dale about easing up on yourself over the global warming thing. Al long as we do as much as we can.

Have you considered starting an indoor plant pot salad garden?

ellen abbott said...

I became interested in food in my early 20s (that would be the early 70s). I have always relied on fresh, not canned or frozen and other products with as little additives as possible. Now I am trying to eat local and in season. Not easy to get local food. In my case it's not the weather but that farmers get better prices out of state, I guess. I don't buy food from other countries except Mexico as it is closer to me than parts of the US. Raw food is important, that's what salads and fruit is for, but I'm not convinced it's the end all and be all. I would look into growing small things, grow lights or hydroponics or both.

That said, I am lucky enough to live in a place with three growing seasons. You have quite a dilemma. It depends on how committed you are.

Sophia said...

This is a great post. We should be talking about these kind of things more often. They are not going to go away! I miss Renee! :(

Some Chilean Woman said...

I found your other blog! Yay!

Now Scotsman and I feel guilty because we haven't really had any real veggies in a little while.

PurestGreen said...

Dale: Not as grumpy as I was when I wrote this post! All those videos made me furious and frustrated.

Hi Cheryl! Hi Ellen! One of my raw fooder friends has a great setup where she grows her sunflower sprouts and wheatgrass, but she has a garden as well, and the use of and disposal of dirt becomes an issue when you live in a small flat.

Thanks Sophia:)With what you have been through with your health, you certainly have an insiders view.

CW:I think this calls for some wonderfully prepared Chilean veggies, because as you may have learned by now, Scotland is the world of the chip roll, not the giant salad.

Robyn said...

keep it simple and do what you can to improve and maintain a healthy diet.

keep stress low on the list.

I'm sure with time and demand people will look to ways of growing local.

best of luck
Robyn x

John said...

I don't know. Yes, we should eat good food, but i think we only have one chance, a very short time on this earth to enjoy all these good, and bad foods.
In moderation I guess.

Anonymous said...

while it would be idealistic to think that local food and ONLY local food would be the answer, it would also spell the end of exotic fruits, coffee, chocolate, etc;

however, the ecological cost of shipping food around the globe is devastating.

in the end you have to decide what makes you happy and comfortable.

i know that if i had to live a life without bananas or avocadoes, it would be a sad life indeed.

so i will change my life in other ways (we buy local organic fruits and vegetables when available, we support local organic meat producers, we use or cloth bags, i never use plastic "vegetable bags" at the supermarket, we walk as much as possible, we never purchase bottled water, can i stop yet?)

Annotated Margins said...

All the things described in Food Inc. are all the reasons why my wife and I miss our garden, and why we buy only organic, and shop the Farmers Markets. (I own every Michael Pollan book.)

Leesa said...

Hi there...

I'm hopping over from the comment you just left on my blog...
I have to comment about this as it affects me directly...
About 7 years ago, I was a raw foodist (all of for a month and a half)... It was the HEALTHIEST I've felt in my life... and everything in my body was happy and shinning... I was even bitten by a brown recluse during this time... and those bites can be really destructive.. However, due to my ultra healthy diet during that time.. the bite was less severe than it could have been and all the raw foods I ingested really helped against the poison (toxicity) in the venom!!
I am sad that I only did it for a month and a half, but once I ate something processed, it was over for me...
I remained a vegan for 4 years, until moving here to France in '06...
Two months ago, I cut out coffee, dairy (except for two cheeses), flour, sugar, and processed food... It is working really well for me, except today, when I went off and ate a bunch of junk and now my stomach is gurgling in anger...
I won't be going off again anytime soon!!
Thanks for posting this - it's important!!

pinkglitterfae said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marcheline said...

I think the middle road is the way.

Don't become a marathon runner, but don't sit on the couch all day eating bonbons, either. Just get out and move on a regular basis.

Don't go on some crazy "All This" or "All That" diet, but don't eat bags of potato chips and bins of ice cream, either. Just make the healthiest choice from the foods that are available to you at the stores you frequent.

Doing anything in the extreme is like sprint running - it's exhilarating, but doesn't last for the long haul.

Use your taste buds, use your muscles, use your brain.

And every once in a while, eat that bag of potato chips - because perfectly healthy people are run over by large lorries every day. Wouldn't it be sad to go through life not eating the delicious stuff and end up dying of NOTHING?


- M

pinkglitterfae said...

I just found your blog though another one, and am happy to do so. This post says perfectly how I feel.
It's a shame that there isn't more education about nutrition. So much junk and fake food out there...but we share the same dilemma about local foods. I'm in Canada, and our growth season isn't that long. If I want to enjoy fruits I have no choice to buy from a grocery store that flies them in from other countries.

I wonder though, even if you try to educate people, it won't make a difference. People like convenience, that's why processed food is in most diets. I'm guilty myself, but am moving towards a vegetarian/raw food diet. Your photos look so good!

It was frustrating watching Renee suffer. My thoughts on the tradition treatments of cancer may be a bit too provocative, so I will keep my mouth shut....
She didn't deserve to suffer like that, no one does.


Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here reading your post whilst stuffing my face with junk food... I really must try harder!

Lena said...

I love all kinds of vegetables and fruits and have a huge strawberry patch and also grow vegetables in my garden every year. One of the main reasons is that it gives The Cheaper Half and I an interest together.

The other is that prices of fruit and vegetables are getting really expensive - even in supermarkets. If I fancy a 5 fruit salad, it roughly costs me £20 for a small punch bowls worth.

The sad facts are that a whopping great gateaux costs a third the price of a fresh fruit salad. And I know so many families who prefer to make a saving.

Anonymous said...

i agree with marcheline & of course, cp-1970. We are all destined to die, don't get too bent out of shape about what one MUST do. enjoy, sup, laugh, move. EAnd remember every consumer choice is a vote, so make your decisions where you can. I am lucky to pick local, but if the local growers were douches who tossed chemicals on their plants i'd buy from the supermarket...
*bear hug*

Carolynn said...

I have a few friends who are Raw Foodies. I have a date with one of them tonite and we'll be dining at a local Raw Food Restaurant. A first for me. I'm looking forward to it.

Tammie Lee said...

where I live there is a short growing season and so things are flown in. we have more fresh and organic choices every year. Also there are more organic farmers every year, some of them with green houses during winter, but that is an expense to keep warm also. I enjoy a mostly raw diet mixed with some meat and grains. I do remember the best i ever felt in my life was when I ate raw for the best part of a year.

Marie S said...

People will change when you show your enthusiasm and these wonderful pictures.
I used to eat all raw food and with the seasons only and I was very healthy. I have gone back to the way I was, in part because of you. I am still not a total raw foodie, but I am doing better than ever. Thank you.
But people only change if they want to.
You are getting through to some.
I miss Renee. much.