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Eating is a natural pleasure that we all enjoy. In our heart we intuitively know exactly which foods are good for us, and which are not. But it’s our head that interferes and too often gets it wrong. The head takes an intellectual approach to food, which focuses on technical and theoretical aspects of food such as calorie count, food classification, and supplements.
If given free reign the head ends up creating a tasteless diet with strict rules. The heart prefers a simple approach that revolves around the senses. They live in the here and the now so they prefer local, seasonal foods that you can buy at the supermarket around the corner.
The nutritional part of this course is split into three parts: this week we’ll look at traditional foods, next week at metabolism, and in the week after at taste and sensuality.
In the late 1920s a Cleveland dentist named Weston A. Price was troubled by what he found when he looked into the mouths of his patients. In adults he found high rates of tooth decay. He was more alarmed by the dentition of his younger patients. He observed that crooked teeth were becoming more common along with facial deformities such as overbites, narrowed faces, and underdevelopment of the nose. He noticed that poor dental health was invariably accompanied by poor physical health as well as poor mental health and a whole range of behavioral problems.
He heard that there were a few communities around the world that were renowned for having healthy teeth so he decided to investigate in person. For the next 10 years he and his wife (Mrs. Price) traveled more than 100,000 miles to study the diets and health of isolated primitive peoples in Africa, South America, Australia, Polynesia, Europe and northern Canada. Now some people might be offended by the word ‘primitive’ but being called primitive is actually a compliment. ‘Primitive’ is derived from ‘prime’, which means number one, of first importance, the best. So to be called primitive means you are the first and the best. I hope someone calls me primitive one day. As a verb ‘prime’ means to prepare someone for a situation so that they know what to do, especially by giving them special information. Today my intention is to prime you to take care of your health.
Wherever Dr. Price came across communities that followed a traditional way of life and ate a traditional diet he found that the members were not only exceptionally healthy but also very happy and content.
The Loetschental Valley, Switzerland: “In this valley they have neither physician nor dentist because they have so little need for them; they have neither policeman nor jail, because they have no need for them.”
“The characteristics of the Polynesian race included straight hair, oval features, happy, buoyant dispositions and splendid physiques.”
“I have seldom, if ever, seen such happy people as these forest Indians of the far North.”
“It would be difficult to find a more happy and contented people than the primitives in the Torres Strait Islands … They not only have nearly perfect bodies, but an associated personality and character of a high degree of excellence. One is continually impressed with happiness, peace and health while in their congenial presence.”
In contrast traditional communities that had begun to incorporate processed foods into their diet showed signs of physical and mental degeneration. He documented his observations in the classic book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.
The healthy cultures he studied all ate vastly different foods but they had three factors in common.
They ate locally grown foods
They ate foods in their proper season
They valued nutritionally dense foods and avoided processed nutrient-poor foods
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The scholarly head mind values what is far away and distant, while the heart and hara cherish the immediate surroundings. Weston price Your task for today is to get to know your local surroundings better. , and there is no better way to do this than by eating locally. Today’s task is research based.
Here are some suggestions:
Find out about local farmers markets, pick-your-own farms, farm-to-table restaurants, or locavore restaurants (A locavore is a person who prefers eating foods harvested within a 100-mile radius.)
You could consider joining a local food co-op. A food co-op is basically a grocery store that is owned by the people who shop there. Members get to decide which foods and products are stocked on the shelves. They usually offer high-quality foods at reasonable prices. Doing business this way helps keep money in communities by supporting local growers, mom-and-pop vendors, craft brewers, etc.
When you go shopping check your food labels of origin
Of you have the time and space you could plant your own garden. It doesn’t get more local than your own back yard.
As an additional activity you could try sit spotting. It will help you connect mentally and emotionally with your surroundings.
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Sit Spotting and meditation are similar in that they both involve sitting still and concentrating. With meditation your focus is turned inward while with sit spotting it is turned outward towards the world. Like meditation, sit spotting is not something that produces immediate benefits, but with regular practice can bring positive changes to your life.
Select a place outdoors that is near your home, such as your backyard or a neighborhood park. Find a comfortable spot and visit it daily or at least a few times a week. Visit your spot in every season and at different times of the day and night to see how it changes. Sit there for 5 to 20 minutes and observe your surroundings with all of your senses.
SEE: Let your eyes slowly roam over the view picking out colors, areas of light and shade, the movement of leaves, grass and insects, and any other details.
Listen for birds and animals, the wind and background noises.
Smell the fresh rain or snow.
Touch the rocks and moss.
If you want, record your observations with notes and pictures in a journal. Eventually, you will know this little corner of the universe better than anyone else.
You could take a compass with you and record the cardinal directions. Draw a compass rose in the sand
Sit spotting will stop your mind’s tendency to wander. The birds chirping in the trees and the wind blowing against my face distracted me from all that was on my mind. It let me focus on the little things like the sounds and the feelings of being out in nature, and less on what was for dinner, when is my next photo shoot and everything in between.
Create a fun place to sit. For example, my kids and I built an outdoor teepee for our sit spot. They get excited about sitting in the “cool” teepee they helped build.
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Today’s assignment is to become more aware of the rhythms and seasons happening around you. A simple way to do this is by making an almanac that chronicles
Natural Rhythms: Over the next month go outside regularly and in a notebook record some of nature’s rhythms and cycles. Here are some suggestions: You could track the path and phases of the moon. You might want to note sunrise and sunset times. If you live by the sea you could note the rising and falling tides. Observe the weather in detail: the shape of clouds, wind directions, relative humidity, and so on.
Of course you could get all this information off the Internet in a few minutes but that’s not the point of the exercise. I want you to connect. If you track the phases of the moon it’s easy to get it online. Instead go outside every night and observe the moon then record its position in a notebook.
Fruit, Vegetables: Go to your local library or use the Internet and find out about the seasonal fruits and vegetables in your area. In addition you could research seasonal fish and meat in your area. For fun you might want to include seasonal flowers. Next create a calendar. I’d love to see what it looks like. Over the next few days go outside and observe what’s around you. See if you can spot the bird, butterfly or fruit you listed.
When Weston Price traveled the world studying the healthy cultures he found that they ate vastly different foods but they all regarded certain foods as sacred. These foods were considered to be especially important for parents-to-be, pregnant and nursing women, and growing children.
Small whole fish
If I could see your face after reading this list I’m pretty sure that I’d see a look of disappointment, maybe even one of disgust. The foods above are not on most people’s list of favorites.