Herbs and Spices
I recently gave a presentation to individuals who were interested in finding out about a whole food plant-based lifestyle. As I was speaking and responding to questions it dawned on me that we are so separated from our environment that we don’t even recognize what is in our food or what harm we are suffering.
We go to the grocery and pickup our meat in nice sterile packages, our flour comes packaged in clean little bags, our fruits and veggies are often wrapped in plastic. We go to the pharmacy and pick up little pills often in child safe bottles that is supposed to cure us from the ills we are developing due to our lifestyle choices. Light pollution prevents us from seeing the sky at night and we travel in cars that are climate controlled with the radio blaring which prevents us from experiencing nature around us.
We are so insulated that we check our cell phones to find out the temperature just outside our front door, and our primary method of communication is to text from one room to the other.
Our children don’t recognize a potato and think that French fries come from McDonalds.
There was a time when children played outside and helped with chores around the house and yes, that included peeling potatoes, cutting that strange green stuff in our front yard called grass, feeding our pets and the barnyard animals. We looked that cow in the face and she had a name and we mourned when her calf went to the butcher. That meat came back to us wrapped in butcher paper with the name of the cut on the outside written in grease pencil. And we remembered that animal.
No, it wasn’t clean and it wasn’t sterile when I was a child, but it was real. I gained a real sense of who I was and my place in the world and perhaps more importantly, I gained a sense of those things around me, the people I interacted with, the animals we cared for, the food we ate, and how it all fit together.
A visit to a doctor wasn’t just a quick phone call, run in to pick up a prescription, and then forget about it until the same thing shows up once more. We used herbs and common sense first, simple remedies that 9 out of 10 times worked so that you didn’t have to “bother” the doctor. My grandmother’s favorite solution for a cough or sore throat was onions diced very finely and boiled gently in honey and given to us by the spoonful’s. It worked!
The foods that we ate were fresh from our garden and they nurtured our bodies, serving as medicine because they provided the nutrients necessary to keep us healthy. Hippocrates saying about “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food,” is so accurate. What we eat and how we live our life impacts not only ourselves, but those around us.
I’m not at all sure that there have been many improvements over the years—in fact, I know that I miss “the good old days”.