Live to Eat and Eat to Live Long

It may not be obvious but I love to eat. However, participating in the Food for Life campaigns of Greenpeace and being a part of #IAmHampasLupa, a group advocating mindful consumption, made me put more effort into choosing the food that I eat. After all, “You are what you eat.”

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“…This is the tenderloin for the sophisticated restaurants. The Mexicans love the feet. I know. Go figure! We all love the face and the anus, as American as apple pie! Hot dogs. It’s all edible. All edible, except the squeal.” -Nancy Mirando, Okja

I watched Food, Inc. (2008), Super Size Me (2004), Okja (2017), and other documentaries, films, and Youtube videos related to food. I also read articles and books, and participated in advocacy events that further discussed the topic. I know, it seemed like I was brainwashing myself but aren’t we supposed to be concerned about stuff that goes into our bodies? Well, from all these so-called “indoctrination,” I came up with the following (obvious) conclusions:

  1. We have a broken food system. We are disconnected to nature, to the food that we eat; that we don’t know how it’s produced and where it comes from.
  2. Processed food is bad news. But we know that already.
  3. Corporations, as always, are in control of the food available in the market.
  4. We don’t know the long-term effects of GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) but we’re probably eating them every day.
  5. We eat more meat and less fruits and vegetables leading to health problems.

In an ideal world, you would be growing and cooking your own food. You would be buying local produce and would constantly check the label of products you buy. You wouldn’t be wasting food. Who does that, anyway. Did you know that it’s the third best way of cutting greenhouse gases? And you would eat more fruits and veggies because aside from its health benefits, it can curb greenhouse gas emissions, too.

So what’s stopping us from eating healthy? Let’s start from home. Busy parents have no time to cook and resort to the convenience of fast food takeaways and processed food. Kids get used to eating junk early on. And then these big corporations which don’t really care about your wellbeing offer the “best-tasting” food in the planet, with the demand further fueled by these #hugot-inspired advertisements. Witty as they appear to be, sometimes how corporations take advantage of values, relationships, and emotions as marketing ploy can be disturbing.

If you live in the city, the readily available options you have are of course fast food and processed food yet again. Organic choices may not be that affordable to many but that begs the question, “How much value do you actually put on your food and yourself?”

Another eating habit issue is this notion that meat is normal, necessary, natural, and nice which drives us to consume more meat with less or no veggies at all. A 2003 World Health Report, however, estimates that 1.7 million deaths worldwide is due to low consumption of fruits and vegetables. You don’t have to be a vegan or a vegetarian but health experts encourage a more plant-based diet for a healthier you.

Climate change and the environment, and animal welfare may not faze you in terms of your diet but if you want to live long, that should motivate you to give more thought to what you’re eating. Quite literally, it’s a matter of life and death.

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New Year, New You: 4 Changes You Could Make this 2017

You probably heard of the claim that it takes 21 days to form a habit. Apparently, that’s a myth. A study says it’s two to eight months. But that’s not what matters, really. It’s the decision and conscious effort to make changes for the better. Here are four resolutions or new habits you may want to take on this year. These are not new. You’ve heard of them several times but hey, repetition is one way of driving the message home.

  1. Be happy.

Don’t we all want that? Happiness is a choice but with all the negativity and bad things happening everywhere, how can one remain hopeful? Be contented. Be grateful. Look at the glass half full. Focus on your sphere of influence and things you can control. Live in the present. Choose happiness.

  1. Be creative.

Creativity is less prioritized over logic and Science. But it’s what feeds our soul. So sing, dance, write in your journal, take photos. Let your creative juices flow. These activities not only distress but they keep you alive.

  1. Be kind to your body.

Eat well. Remember that you are what you eat. Eat less meat and more veggies. It’s good for your body and the environment, too. Avoid softdrinks and junkfood. Opt for real food instead of processed ones. Aside from having a healthy diet, get plenty of exercise and enough rest.

  1. Be involved.

You’ve ranted about all the problems of the world. Instead of just complaining, why don’t you do something about it. Volunteer and take part in initiatives that tackle different issues. Why not start caring more for the environment. Consume less, use reusable bags when shopping, say no to straws and plastics, don’t litter, and plant trees. The world becomes a better place if we just do our part.

It takes two to eight months to form a habit. It’s a good thing we have the whole year to try.

You are what you eat

If you’re an environmentalist, it would be expected or assumed that you’re a vegetarian considering the fact that eating less meat helps the environment. The meat industry requires massive amount of land, food, energy, and water; in short, it has a huge carbon footprint. Add to that the issue of animal cruelty. So vegetarianism seems to be an ideal diet option.

You can also choose to be vegan (no animal byproducts), pescetarian (no meat but eats fish), or a flexitarian (occasional meat eater). People have different reasons for their diet whether it’s for the environment, health, or just a matter of preference. But choosing to be a vegetarian in the Philippines is a challenge where Filipinos are practically carnivores who love lechon (roasted pig), crispy pata (pork knuckle), bulalo (beef soup of shank with bone marrow), kare-kare (stewed oxtail with peanut sauce), and the list just goes on. Our idea of a vegetarian dish is vegetable with meat bits in it.

I haven’t been mindful of what I eat in the past but as I became immersed in sustainable consumption especially as a volunteer for the ecological agriculture campaign of Greenpeace, I began to make an effort in eating fresh, local, healthy food. I still eat fast food but I try to choose the “healthier” option. I also avoid softdrinks and junkfood.

Watching different documentaries on food made me realize how broken the food system is. Food, Inc. (2008) examined the inhumane and environmentally unsustainable food production in the US and the control of big corporations on our food. Super Size Me (2004) showed how a daily fast-food/McDonald’s diet can be detrimental to health. And there are more movies and documentaries revealing the truth behind our food.

We’ve heard news about how processed meat can cause cancer, the “pink slime” (meat-based product with ammonium hydroxide) being added to ground beef, chicken being pumped with growth hormones, and fruits and vegetables contaminated with cancer-causing pesticides.

Aside from food safety, food security is also being threatened due to climate change.

Where does that leave us? We’re encouraged to cook and grow our own food. And that may be difficult if you live in a big city where it’s all about fast and convenient way of doing things. However, there is a decline in fast food sales and a growing demand for organic and healthy food. Some farmers are now transitioning to organic or sustainable agriculture. And urban and container gardening is being promoted in schools and in communities.

Food safety and food security are complex issues. We have a broken food system and we can start fixing it by choosing and demanding for healthy, affordable food. As has been said, you are what you eat so don’t be fast, cheap, easy or fake.

You are what you eat
lovethispic.com

Good-bye Bacon?!

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thelibertarianrepublic.com

World Health Organization has spoken: processed meat and red meat are carcinogenic.

All hell breaks loose with meat-eaters in a panic, shaking their heads in disbelief. Of course, in between mouthfuls of bacon, hotdog, and salami.

Fat, cholesterol, preservatives, cancer-causing charred meat. It’s old news. The key, as always, is eating meat in moderation

That’s where the problem lies. We lack self-control to stay within the limits. And who would say what moderate amount is? Right before you feel your veins constricting?

It is a struggle to stay healthy these days. The fat and skinny stay as they are or become worse. Those who opt for healthier diet have less options. And these options, the so-called organic food, are pretty pricey. So we choose the readily available and abundant, and relatively cheaper processed food, canned goods, fast food. High calorie, high sugar, high salt, zero nutritional value. Just wonderful!

In an attempt to prolong one’s life, the health conscious would try cleansing programs, juicing, going organic, be a vegetarian/vegan, etc. But you hear of people who are super healthy, non-drinkers, non-smokers, they exercise and all that, and ending up mysteriously sick, contracting cancer, and even dying. The culprit? Diet, lifestyle, genetic, environment, stress, or maybe it’s spiritual? Or demonic? Or some kind of a curse?

The bombardment of researches or studies of what’s healthy and what’s not don’t help. They release a study stating one thing followed by another countering that it is inconclusive. Where does that leave us? We might as well stuff ourselves with bacon, and cake, and soda and all the foods labeled bad but taste so good (life is unfair that way, deal with it)? At least we die happy, right?

Seriously, though, more than diet and exercise, perhaps we should follow the advice of those gifted with longevity. To stay curious about life. To be with friends and relatives. To be calm and be happy.