I had suspected so much, years ago, but now I am convinced. Our lifestyle has created many of the health issues we face. I have experienced this personally.
As a youngster growing up in the 70’s on Long Island, I was starved for nourishment. It wasn’t that I didn’t eat: I consumed typical meals of boxed cereal breakfasts, white bread, cold cut and iceberg lettuce lunches, boxed macaroni & cheese and hot dog dinners. I ate, but didn’t feel fed, and so I ate more. I was preoccupied with my need for nourishment, a disorder of sorts. Fortunately, at 16, I discovered the local health food store and in it, wholegrain cereals and breads, a variety of beans, organic vegetables and naturally sweetened desserts. By eating “health foods”, I felt satisfied for the first time; my cravings diminished, energy levels raised and my sense of well-being developed. Yet, I was eating on the fringe; people looked at my food with suspicion and few social situations offered food I could comfortably eat.
At the same time, I studied nutrition books. I quickly become overwhelmed by the plethora of information on vitamin and mineral requirements, recommended calorie and fat intake and salt and sugar issues. Rather than navigate this web of data, I decided to simply eat naturally. If my grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food, neither would I. Since then, I have eaten natural foods, developing a sense of what best to eat at times, and continuing to feel well-nourished.
So much is like this. As a society, we tamper with nature, and individually, we suffer the effects. One by one we seek answers, often accepting diagnoses, drugs and therapies, identifying us as ill. Meanwhile, the cultural norms which create and promote our disorders remain communally embraced and largely unexamined.
In a few generations, we have abandoned lives of farming and canning, lifting and bending with the rhythms of the seasons. We have stopped living in contact with the living, breathing earth. We now push buttons, watch fast moving images, and listen to mechanized sounds, in rooms of artificial light and conditioned air, as we scramble to meet man-made schedules. How can we know of the subtle shifts between light and dark or observe the patterns of nature which might inform us? We no longer write letters nor wait for mail, chop wood nor cook food we’ve grown over fires we’ve built. Instead, we constantly respond to our phones’ jingles, always on call to meet perceived needs and hastily remove plastic coverings from processed foods to zap them in the microwave. How can we know of the passage of time or of the processes of growth and decay?
Naturally, we experience sensory overload, processing difficulty, burn out and angst. Hyperactivity, attention deficit, hypersensitivity and anxiety have markedly increased amongst youth. Born to a world of abstractions and distractions, babies receive little to grasp onto and piece together as real. Many feed on chemical formulas in place of mothers’ milkwhich promotes health, growth, immunity and development. Some bypass crawling which buildsneuropath ways critical to balance, spinal alignment, visual-spatial skills, and socio-emotional development. Intricate, manufactured plastic toys for defined purposes replace simple homemade wooden and cloth objects through which a child can feel nature’s or a human’s touch and upon which one can project his/her imagination. Hours are spent viewing TV. screens and playing video games, overloading one’s senses with illusory ideas of space and time while few woods remain, or are deemed safe enough, in which to explore the multi-faceted dimensions of the wild. We have created a world in which children are starved of what is essential to the development of healthy bodies, minds and souls and then we find complex solutions to their problems.
Without recognizing and valuing natural processes, we separate from our source and like a flower in a vase, dry up. Running on treadmills we’ve created, looking for solutions to our difficulties, won’t resolve our issues as would our simply stepping off our manmade machinery and walking on more natural paths.