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Our Convenient Lifestyle-Our Destiny

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Growing my own food helps me to understand how people survived the winter a century ago, when they did not have the luxury of refrigerators or freezers

Growing my own food helps me to understand how people survived the winter a century ago, when they did not have the luxury of refrigerators or freezers. In those days, people were dependent on grains, nuts, seeds and root vegetables that could be safely stored. Apples were grown that would last the winter season. Cabbage was made into sauerkraut. Cauliflower, celery root, tomatoes and other vegetables were also preserved by lactic acid fermentation. Now it's different. In 2002, all produce is available, in season or out of season, both locally grown and imported. With the help of freezers and microwave cookers, we have adopted a lifestyle of convenience but we've forfeited nutrition!

Has our quality of life improved with all the technological advances in food preparation and preservation? Paavo Airola, a leading nutritionist of the '70s and '80s, didn't think so. He observed that the average North American consumer restricts her food intake to less than 24 food items, yet there are more than 800 available items in food stores and supermarkets. For instance, there are hundreds of apple varieties, although the offering in markets seldom goes beyond Granny Smith, Macintosh, Red Gala and Golden Delicious. For reasons of economy and government restriction in agriculture, farmers have adopted monocultures: they grow crops of only wheat and potatoes, canola or dairy, chicken for eggs and pigs for meat. It's cheaper to streamline.

Canada is the world's largest producer of lentils, yet only two in 1,000 Canadians eat lentils regularly. Prairie farmers grow legumes to export to Third World countries, which in turn supply Canadians with sugar, coffee, exotic fruits, spices and meat for hamburgers. Who is getting the best deal? The personal family farms, which once grew everything people needed to survive, have all but disappeared. We remember them only from nostalgic tales our grandparents tell us.

In our modern world the food industry has not only responded to the consumer trend of a faster lifestyle, but it has very much dictated what we can put on our plates. Only one generation ago, three-quarters of the money used to buy food was spent to prepare meals at home. Today, more than half the money used to buy food is spent at restaurants. On any given day, at least one-quarter of the adult population visits a fast food eatery. And we know only too well how nutrient-deficient that food is. The breads, buns and pasta have no fibre. All servings are loaded with harmful fats and animal protein that is lacking vitamins, minerals and enzymes. One has to be blind not to see a connection between the industrialization of our food supplies, which started around the turn of the 20th century, and the steady increase of degenerative diseases.

Eduard Brecht, a leading German nutritionist of the last century, coined the phrase, "your food is your destiny."

Take a hard look at the food you buy. What is your destiny?

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