Many would consider my way of eating and living to be weird. It's not a label that I welcome, but I do understand the reasoning behind it.
Sometimes I wonder though, if I was living in a previous era would my diet and lifestyle choices still be considered 'weird'? I think not. In fact, I think I would be rather normal.
This is a think piece article, it started off as a facebook rant but I decided to explore this idea in a little more detail. The result is this article. It's not meant to be an educational piece with take home advice like many of my other articles on this site, it's simply meant to make you stop and think.
Take a step back and view our day-to-day choices from a bigger perspective. Maybe in turn it will spark change, whether this change is for better or for worst that is for you to decide.
In 1970 the herbicide Glyphosate was discovered by Monsanto chemist John E. Franz. 4 years later Monsanto brought it to market under the trade name Roundup. Since then roundup has become one of the most commonly used weed killers on the planet.
Today, in order to avoid this weed killer you have to be 'that guy' that buys certified organic. With this comes costs. Not only is the range of organic produce limited, but there is a premium to buying organic. Even if you find organic food and are happy paying the premium, you're still not entirely free from glyphosate exposure.
I want you to think about something for a minute. Prior to the invention of chemical herbicides, farmers had to use 'natural' strategies to kill bugs and weeds. Chilli sprays, vinegar, companion planting, physical restraints (netting etc), insect use (praying mantis are a great natural bug killer!) for example.
Not only were the crops free of synthetic chemicals, but the natural controls were also void of these toxins (the chilli used in the chilli spray would be organic etc).
Everything was 'organic'. That was the norm. You didn't need special certificates to prove that a tomato was organic as it was the only way a tomato could be grown.
Yet today I have to travel to a health shop and pay a premium to buy a herbicide free organic tomato...
Likewise with genetically modified organisms (GMO) - this simply didn't exist a generation ago. Genetic Engineering hadn't been invented so you didn't need to worry if your corn was GMO or not. No need to check labels. No need ask the waiter if the corn is GMO or not, watching them roll their eyes as they turn for the kitchen. All corn was GMO free. Amazing.
It was a time when all our produce was GMO free, organic, locally sourced and fresh.
In an era when everything was 'organic' and GMO free, eating out would have been rather enjoyable for a health conscious individual.
And it's not just produce. Meat products would have been free of antibiotics (which were invented in 1928) and synthetic growth hormones (1950's). Not to mention that most cattle would have been eating their natural diet (grass) and not stuck in feedlots eating GMO non-organic soy and corn.
Buying a grass fed steak in the early 1900's would have been easy. On the other hand, if you wanted a grain fed beef steak you would have to go out of your way to find one (and at least the grains would have been organic/non-GMO). Even though feedlot farming was used in the late 1800's it wasn't common place until the mid 1900's.
The flip side is true today, where most beef, pork and poultry on the market is from a feed lot farm, while the animals are exposed to the latest synthetic growth enhancers, antibiotics and their diet is far from natural. We are what we eat eats.
To buy a grass fed (and grass finished) steak today requires me going to an artisan butcher, asking the young apprentice if the farm they buy from uses grain in their cattle feed before paying top dollar for a 'normal' steak.
Even then I don't know if the animal was exposed to pesticides & herbicides...
In some Commonwealth countries it is a Friday night tradition to have fish and chips. I grew up in NZ having fish and chips from the local takeaway joint every Friday night. I still aim to keep this tradition, but I won't go near a takeaway shop. Instead I have to make it myself at home.
Why? I really like grilled salmon. Unfortunately most salmon on the market these days is farmed salmon. The fish are fed all sorts of 'fish food' that they wouldn't find in their natural environment. Not to mention the use of dyes to color the fish flesh, antibiotics to keep the fish alive in non-natural environments and hormones in the food to stimulate growth.
Sure salmon is widely available at fish stores today (and all year round), but wild (natural) salmon is hard to come by and expensive. Salmon farming only really came into mainstream practice in the 1950's. Prior to that all salmon would have been wild caught (and sure there are downsides to this, such as seasonal restrictions and price), but what about the health downsides from consuming farmed salmon?
Going back to the fish and chip shop. Let's say the fish shop used wild caught fresh local New Zealand snapper. Great. And let's assume they using organic potatoes for the chips. Awesome! But even then I wouldn't eat at this fish and chip shop today. Take me back a few decades though and it would be a different story. What changed?
Cooking oil. There used to be a time when restaurants would cook in beef fat (tallow) or lard. Saturated Fats. These fats were heat stable and (despite common wisdom) healthy for the body.
In recent times, due to marketing ploys, greed, poor science, and consumer demand, restaurants no longer cook with these oils. Instead they use vegetable oils like canola and soy bean oil. The downside of this is that these oils are easily oxidised and cause a lot of damage to the body. I cover this topic in far more detail in my article on PUFAs here.
In 2003 I would have even happily eaten McDonalds fries. In the year 2004 McDonalds changed from cooking their fries in tallow (saturated fat) to canola oil. This quote taken from their website:
"We stopped frying with beef tallow back in 2004 and switched to a canola oil blend, as this was a more healthy option for frying".
Today I wouldn't go near fried chips from a takeaway shop or a restaurant. Friends and family who dine with me simply think I'm weird.
They ask if I'm watching my carbs, or if don't eat potato, or if I'm still afraid of fat - this couldn't be further from the truth! I have fried sweet potato dripping in coconut oil at least four times a week. My concern with takeout fries is with the oil the chips have been cooked in. A concern that average joe simply is unaware of.
And if you think this only applies to fried food, think again. Vegetable oils are one of the most used ingredients in the food industry. They're used in everything.
This dietary change is not limited to meat, vegetables and cooking oil. The dairy we consume today is a far cry from the dairy our grandparents consumed as children.
Today all commercial milk is sterilized through pasteurization and then blended through a homogenization process. And that's just how the milk processing has changed. We also need to remember that the cows the milk come are treated differently, eat differently and are exposed to toxins that weren't even invented when our grandparents would have their personal house cow.
No longer is milk 'organic' from grass fed cows, alive with natural bacteria and enzymes, with the milk fat globules remaining intact. Milk is no longer a living fresh product. For someone to consume milk in its natural state requires either milking your own cow or potentially breaking the law.
Buying raw milk is illegal in many US states and throughout Australia. Only a few decades ago all milk would have been organic, raw, unhomogenised, and fresh. Today buying such milk can result in hefty fines.
I am that passionate about my health (and my offspring's) that I will literally break the law to buy milk. My peers don't understand it, especially when commercial milk is readily available at any corner store for a fraction of the price. Plus there is no legal consequence!
The food we eat today is drastically different to the food we ate 100 years ago. We may still use the same names but from a micronutrient and biochemistry point of view it's radically different.
Stop and process this thought for a moment...
I'm not saying all the technological advances over the past 100 years around food and medicine isn't a good thing. I'm just saying that what we eat today is extremely different to what our great grandparents ate. And based on my understanding this change hasn't been for the better.
From an human species point of view, 100 years is nothing, yet our diet has taken a change so profound our bodies literally cannot cope (autism linked to glyphosate consumption, obesity linked to excess pufa consumption, endocrine problems from the meat and dairy we consume etc etc).
Now please don't think I'm about to plug a caveman or paleo type diet to cure all our woes. Because this is not the solution.
On the surface you could 'eat like your grandma', drink milk, eat eggs, plenty of fruit and vegetables, potatoes from your garden, some fish, bone broth and offal... simply eliminate lots of processed junk would be a step in the right direction.
But that's only the start, you have to eat purely organic, from food grown in nutrient rich soils free of exposure from environmental pollutants, your meat needs to be grassfed and finished and also organic, your fish wild, your milk raw... see the problem?
My point is simply this - our great grandparents had it easy when it came to eating a healthy diet. Everything accessible to them was 'healthy'!
They had to go out of their way to get something that wasn't 'healthy'.
Eating out (though extremely uncommon back then) would have meant an organic meal no matter what you ate.
The oysters local and fresh, the steak grassfed and organic and cooked in beef fat, the salad vegetables spray free and rich in nutrients, the wine organic, the water from the local spring, the strawberries for dessert may have been smaller but would have been organic, and the cream would have been from the local cow, fresh and unpasteurized.
I don't know any restaurant in a city today that would serve a meal to this standard. And if you did locate such a restaurant it would charge a hefty price for a meal (and be sure to leave a comment below with the name of the restaurant!)
Remember, this sort of quality meal would have been completely normal 100 years ago.
Compare this with the world today...
If we move our thoughts from diet to the environmental change, we also see a profound shift in a space of 2 or 3 generations.
In the year 1895 Guglielmo Marconi sent and received the first radio transmission. Four years later he was sending wireless signals across the English channel.
Our atmosphere was to change for ever.
This discovery lead to invisible radio waves transmitting visible pictures as television in the 1920's and amateur radio operations transmitting and broadcasting from the comfort of their home in a similar period.
One of the first bands of radio waves used was in the 30-300kHz electromagnetic spectrum range, this is also referred to as long wave radio. The term 'long wave' signifies the large wave length of the radio transmissions, with long wave radio waves being 1km to 100km in length (compared to microwaves that have wavelengths of only a few millimeters). The benefit of this long wave length is that the signal travels for enormous distances, with transmission distances reading 100's if not 1000's of kilometers from the transmitting antenna.
Since the widespread use of these new technologies we have literally changed the earths environment. Electromagnetic frequencies are a natural occurence on earth (for example the sun emits EMF in various forms of light and the earth emits its own frequency known as the schumann frequency) but today we are bombarded with what is referred to as non-native electromagnetic fields from radar, radio antennas, tv signals, marine and geological testing and much more.
What effect do these newly introduced nnEMF's have on the human body? That is a blog article in itself and as this is a think-piece article I want you to come to your own conclusions. But here are a few factoids that should be noted:
The environment we live in is completely different to that of our great grandparents. Even if you try and replicate their organic, GMO free, raw, unprocessed and fresh diet, you are still living in an environment significantly different to the world that they lived in.
Another massive shift that has happened in our environment over the past 100 years has been around artificial light.
Our great grandparents grew up in a dark world. When the sun when down humans relied on fire for light. The light bulb was invented in 1878 but it took decades before they were common place in peoples homes.
Artificial light impacts the body in a profound way. Bright screens at night literally create a stress response in the body and disrupt our sleep. It's no wonder why so many people have sleeping problems today.
Quality sleep, and low stress levels are both critical for a healthy body. Sure our great grandparents productivity levels would have been much lower when they were growing up, but their bed room environment would have been pitch black.
Today, unless we live in a remote location, we are surrounded by artificial light at night time. Street lights, car lights, security lights, standby lights, night lights... all these light sources emit light that has a big impact on our biology.
Today, to get a bedroom free of any artificial light - to the same standard of our great grandparents - often requires special curtains, unplugging devices and towels under doors. Not to mention taping over those blinking LED lights.
We now live in a world where you have to go out of your way to make a room dark. Simply turning off the lights doesn't cut it anymore.
There is a common theme here, and it's simple - society's 'normal' whether it be the food we eat or the environment we live in - has drastically changed.
To achieve a diet in 2017 that was normal in the year 1917 requires you to be abnormal - tracking down quality organic, GMO Free vegetables, buying grassfed grass finished meat and cooking in an oil that is shunned by society.
You become unorthodox, unconventional, abnormal, weird.
This is the way I live my life, and I can tell you now when it comes to my dietary habits I'm viewed as a weirdo.
To live in an environment in 2017 that was 'normal' in the year 1917 is nearly impossible today. You could move to a remote island or the middle of the jungle and be free from artificial light sources, wifi routers and cell towers, but this is hardly practical.
Instead you can do what I do, continue to reside in a modern world, but go out of your way to block blue light, use nnEMF shielding devices and paints, minimise Wi-Fi and cell phone use and put tape over your bedroom windows.
But just be warned, in your quest for improved health, you might be seen as a little weird!
This blog post was written by Alex Fergus. Alex is an ISSN Sports Nutrition Specialist, Fitness Professional and certified Superhuman Coach who continues to expand his knowledge base and help people across the world with their health and wellness. Alex is recognized as the National Record Holder in Powerlifting and Indoor Rowing and has earned the title of the Australian National Natural Bodybuilding Champion. Having worked as a health coach and personal trainer for over a decade, Alex now researches all things health and wellness and shares his findings on this blog. Learn more about Alex's Credentials HERE.
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