Monday, August 26, 2013

Food is medicine

No, Positive Cycle has not gone ayurvedic, but we do have something to say about the condition your body is in at any point in your life, and how closely related that is to what you have been eating. For the baby boomers, it was an accepted reality that you ate meat and veg, sometimes fish, all thoroughly cooked. When you got sick, the doctor was able to supply you with all manner of chemicals that were supposed to make you get healthy.
Today it is becoming clear that this approach is not only flawed but indeed the cause of much of the discomfort and disease that even affluent people are all to easily afflicted with in what was supposed to be a better and brighter future.

Gardening, and especially food gardening, is such a wonderful way to learn about the value of diversity and also of natural relationships. How all the little bits of nature work together to create life that sustains itself. Diet works in very much the same way. Eating foods that complement each other, and that are in their natural and unprocessed state, is exactly what produces the diversity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut without which good health never even gains a toe hold. It follows perfectly logically that in order to gain control of anything going wrong in the body, we need to address the food that our bodies are trying to function on. If you are developing a tumour, it seems inescapable that your body must have been damaged by something it encountered. Something small even, but to which your body was unable to respond in a healthy way.

What this really means is that for true health, it is necessary to think preemptively. Treatment is possible using foods, we all know about thyme and sage with ginger for the sore throats and the wheezes for example, but if you eat your raw broccoli, sprouts, seeds, cauliflower crumbles (delicious) and you pick what you eat on the same day, from your local environment, you are providing your body with perfect food. Food that almost never triggers a damaging response like a tumour in your body.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Growing with Positive Cycle

I thought I'd write a little about the psychology behind a food garden. It may take a little imagination, but envision with me, if you will, what life is like in a very poor place. I mean a poor, not so clean, hardly any green things growing, messy liquor store pavement kind of poor place. Everybody who works, gets up and out early in the day to go and earn the money they need. The rest? Hard to say. Many unemployed and poor people would even find it hard to describe life in a township with few or no services and even fewer opportunities so that someone from the wealthy suburbs could understand. We can start with some facts though. Time is money and spending half your early rising day travelling and more than half of the money you earn by travelling to work doen't seem to pay in the long run. It would be great if there was a way to earn money closer to home.
That is the opportunity that a successful and well tended food garden can provide for those who develop it. Don't think, ' oh its nice to grow a few extra mielies to eat'. Rather, be aware of the vast array of excellent foods that can be grown, particularly in the South African climate, and understand that a varied diet of whole organic produce is without a doubt the best way to both feed and medicate yourself. That is not all however. Growing a real diversity of crops, even on a relatively small piece of land, creates a significant small business opportunity for the grower. Having a surplus of mielies to sell is one thing, having a whole range of crops as well as the know how to make, for example, products like jams out of the crops you grow, products with a longer shelf life than the simple harvest itself and products which can be sold for far more than the simple harvested produce means the difference between living below the bread line and being a real small scale entrepreneur. Being a person who makes an unmissable contribution to their community, with more than just extra healthy food.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The language of healthy eating and GMO

So why are genetically modified crops not such a hot idea?

You could say that the gene pairs that dictate how every living thing on this planet develops make up a whole language. It is quite literally that there is a code for every living thing and all of its characteristics. Genes, and their success or failure, are what form all of the complex interactions between adaptations and behaviours. The 'web of life' that is so much more than the sum of it's parts is a manifestation of this genetic language.

Now it is easy to imagine the effect of chopping and changing a language arbitrarily to suit the desired alteration of a specific iteration. Making a word better with a part of another word for example, might work for as long as we only consider the improved word. When we look at the sentence around that word, and the whole system of language around the new improved word, we would find that it does not fit in with the overall pattern and rhtythm of the whole code.

If that was a little confusing, what I am basically saying is, ' how can we tell what the long term effects of playing around with gene codes are going to be?

When you talk to people ebout the genetic modification issue they seem to be primarily concerned about possible direct effects. Getting sick from eating some slightly different fruit or veg doesn't seem very likely does it? Well thousands of scientists from around the world say it is. They say that genetic material is placed into the original plant species in a 'clumsy' manner that causes all manner of genetically based abnormalities to occur as a result of inadvertent damage to the genecode surrounding the new addition. You recall reading about the increased rates of allergic response to foods. It was never really a big issue, and then it became one. Well it's no coincidence that the release of genetically modified organisms onto the open market took place at around the time those reports of allergies started to become more common. There have been other issues causing increased allergic response, but a more refined understanding of genetics now makes it seem certain that genetically modified organisms have gone untested and the health implications could turn out to be quite severe.

So before we ever begin to consider the effect of genetic engineering on the natural environment we can see that 'danger is close' to borrow a military phrase. This is a war after all, or at least it should be if we know what's good for us.

Knowing what's good for us is what this blog is all about. Read this letter from the scientific community about GMO. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

Circadian Rhythms, anything to do with what you eat?

Perhaps you have heard of 'circadianrhythms'? The phrase describes your body (and therefore mind) interacting with the natural environment around you. To people who eat out of the shopping centre the idea seems alien, but when you eat fresh food from your garden on a regular basis, you inevitably have a closer connection to nature and will even notice that the food you are eating seems to be perfectly suited to your needs of the moment. The nutrients and food types that you require given the seasonal conditions around you.

Maybe the rhythms of your body work in synergy with the living world around you, WHEN YOU LET THEM. Rising and sleeping with the dawn and sunset, sleeping longer in winter, and possibly above all, eating the waxing and waning bounty of the living plants around you is how many people around the world have found new vitality and even beaten disease simply by becoming aware of the missing link between themselves and the natural environment: the food we eat.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eat Seasonal food and reap the natural benefits you are supposed to.

Think of yourself as an integral part of the nature around you. If you are growing your own food then that is pretty easy. As the seasons advance, and the weather changes, so does the food that will grow during each season. So? Well, during the cold season, you will find that the produce you are able to grow is exactly that kind of food you need just then. Your body is operating in cycles just like your garden. If you are growing your own food, and therefore quite naturally eating seasonal food, the rhythm of your body's health will start to echo and be influenced for the better by the day to day and season to season condition of your garden.
The fruits, vegetables and herbs you will be able to take advantage of this spring include
  • Globe artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, broad beans, beans, baby marrow, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, courgettes, cucumber, endive [limited], garlic, radishes, green beans, leeks, mushrooms, mielies, lettuce, new potato, onion, parsley, parsnips, peas, potato, pumpkin, rhubarb, spinach, Swiss Chard, carrots, squash, spring onion, sweet potatoes, turnips, waterblommetjies
  • fruit:
    apricots, bananas, melons, grapefruit, guava, cherry, kumquats, kiwi, lemons, limes, mulberries, naartjies, oranges, paw paw, peaches, plums, rhubarb, spanspek, strawberries, tomatoes, watermelons, pineapple, avocados
  • herbs:
    perrenial basil, bloody sorrel, fennel (bulb), cat mint, chives, dandelion, dill, fennel, French tarragon (limited), garden cress, garlic chives, lavender, lemongrass stems, marjoram, bay leaves, mint, mustard – green & red, nasturtiums,  origanum, parsley, rocket, rosemary, sage, sorrel, thyme, winter savoury, calendula
And reading through this list, doesn't it just seem exactly like what you might like to eat in Spring? Eating these in Spring gives you the nutrients suitable for the environmental conditions around you. Remember this idea through the year, and when you're making butternut and pumpkin soups, isn't it exactly the right thing?

Getting back into a natural rhythm with nature is health insurance that actually makes you healthy, rather than just paying you out. Oh, but wait, if your food comes out of the ground around you, then that pretty much means you are getting a financial pay out as well, doesn't it?