Jun 25, 2012

Passing on stuff I've learned: Food

These last 18 months have led me down paths I wasn't expecting to travel. I'm basically challenging my own paradigms. Here are my thoughts about food:

I have come to realize that no one can live well and healthy without animals, not even vegans. According to everything I've been reading and hearing about nutrition since I went low-carb in August of 2010, we need agriculture to continue to feed ourselves, but what we don't need is industrialized or petroleum-based agriculture. That type of farming is destroying our soil (which adds to global warming) and our health (lack of omega-3 in meat, for example, and lack of nutrients in vegetables).

Organic agriculture preserves soil, plant and animal health, and in turn, our health. Humans are not in competition with animals for food. The logic that vegetarians (I used to be one) buy into is that it's better to give the grain directly to people, rather than feed it to cattle because it takes 6 (or 10 or 18 or even just 2, depending on your source) pounds of corn to produce 1 pound of meat. The problem with this "logic" is that cows shouldn't even be eating corn. They should be eating only grass, a food humans cannot eat at all. Cows are fed grains only because the US has a huge surplus of corn.

We should demand that all meat from herbivores be from grass-fed ones only. No exceptions. The vegans and vegetarians should fight for this, too. Without farm animals, there is no source of organic fertilizer for all those healthy, organic vegetables. Without grazing herds cutting and fertilizing grass, grass dies and we get land erosion.

What we really need to do is treat farm animals as well as we treat ourselves, whether or not you choose to eat them. That's how much we depend on them.

By the way, I've learned that cows aren't the only ones not able to digest grains: Humans can't, either. Once I experienced the remission of my IBS simply by eliminating grains in my diet, I threw out my old paradigm of "vegetarianism is the best option". There has never been any human society that evolved on a vegan diet and the only society to never have a medicine man lived exclusively on meat and fish (the Inuits). I followed all the IBS advice, eating more soluble fiber (from grains, naturally) and swearing by brown rice for health. Still I had troubled digestion. So I gave up my beloved müsli; I no longer hurt after a meal. I still have IBS; it comes back whenever I eat grains or too much sugar. And no, it's not about gluten. I wish I knew exactly what it was. Maybe there's something to the blood type diet after all; I'm a cave woman: Type 0.

In order to find inspiration for other breakfast than cold cereal, I got into low-carbing. That put me back in the healthy BMI range, without exercise. This is still a work in progress. I keep listening and reading and learning more stuff. One of the other claims I used to make, I can no longer make: That plain ol' sugar won't hurt you. I am learning that it will. In fact, if one applied the definition for addictive substances (like alcohol) to sugar, sugar too would be a controlled substance, to be kept away from children. I'm still in the process of addressing what's left of sugar in my diet. Dr. Robert Lustig's description of the damage fructose does is downright frightening. Still, I haven't given up chocolate, and I don't yet want to.

Footnotes:
  1. The book "Beyond Broccoli" sums up all the of the current knowledge/research about diet and nutrition that the government won't tell you.
  2. I heard about "Beyond Broccoli" on Jimmy Moore's Livin' La Vida Low-carb show.
  3. Sugar regulation and why, an interview with Dr. Robert Lustig, and a good introduction to our relationship with sweet stuffs.

Jun 18, 2012

TL;DR - and TL;DW

I think the most frustrating experience with the internet is TL;DR—too long, didn't read. I have a long list of longer articles that I know interest me and that I want to read but the energy just isn't there. Or the focus isn't. Or the time.

How annoying! All this knowledge literally in my lap (or at least near it), and still so out of reach!

I was reading about how productivity may be killing creativity over at Lifehacker, an article about how we distract ourselves by staying online rather than allowing ourselves to go offline and "'do' less and 'think' more". There was this long quote from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" that, at the time, was TL;DR. But I knew I wanted to. I knew it was about my hunger for something more than status updates, for information that feels deep and significant and not like another piece of trivia.

Once again, I find myself wanting to write. To rekindle my existence on my blog, because, honestly, this is where I live—in every sense of the word. This is where I want to share what's happening with me, this is where I want to do my thinking and feeling—not on Facebook or Twitter.

Blogs are still a full meal, while Facebook and Twitter are snacks and lattes. So let me go back to that quote about the loss of the metaphorical "slow food":

The Chautauquas were pushed aside by faster-paced radio, movies and TV, and it seems to me the change was not entirely an improvement. Perhaps because of these changes the stream of national consciousness moves faster now, and is broader, but it seems to run less deep. The old channels cannot contain it and in its search for new ones there seems to be growing havoc and destruction along its banks.

I'm not sure if havoc and destruction apply to the effect the internet is having on us, but everything else Pirsig is saying fits—and we are a good 35 years on since he wrote his maintenance manual. Which, by the way, is actually about mindfulness. In a world where we are inundated with sound bytes and short messages and multi-tasking, mindfulness is becoming the next big thing. People do want depth, and pause, and room to both explore and finish a thought.

Sitting here, ignoring the fact that it's past my dinnertime, losing myself in typing, thinking, wondering how my reader(s) will receive this has been a wonderful moment of down-time, of focusing on one task. This little bit of writing has calmed me.

TL;DW: Too long, didn't write.

Not any more.

Jun 9, 2012

You know that fly-buzzing-against-window thing? Code is cracked.

How many times haven't you had a house fly or some other flying bug buzzing against the inside of a window? You open the window and the insect still bangs and buzzes everywhere else against the window except where it's open.

I've gotten pretty good about talking wasps back out of my apartment when they've flown in. Yes, I talk to them. Or I pray. Basically, I'm trusting the unseen part of nature, the part that instinct relies on, to help me communicate with the critters around me. They sense my energy, my intention. I've experienced this time and again and today I had an experience that drove this point home for me.

If you've ever wondered why a fly casually walking on the window suddenly goes nuts all over it when you approach, here's the answer. I approached such a fly this morning, and opened the window for it. It immediately buzzed and bumped all over the part of the window farthest from me. And suddenly it hit me: The fly was panicking. It assumed I was some kind of threat to it, and it had suddenly gone all desperate, trying to find a way out that wasn't near me.

I stood there, trying to convey calm to it, unsuccessfully. It continued its panicked dance on the inside of my window. It wasn't until my thoughts drifted away from the fly's situation to my own (how long do I stand here holding the window open?) - i.e. my focus moved away from the fly - that the fly itself moved in my direction, this time far enough down to where there was an opening and out it flew.

Coincidence? If you like living in a world where nothing wonderful ever happens, then yes, it's just coincidence. Me, I acquired a new understanding of house fly behavior and the invisible forms of communication.