Superfoods and their Staying Power

Vacation is over – my family is back to their normal school and work routines and I once more have the house to myself.  Which means I now have huge blocks of  uninterrupted time in which to…..

Read and Write.

(Did you really think I was going to say clean house or cook?!?)

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So this morning, coffee in hand, butt in computer chair, I read about the growing popularity of quinoa as a superfood and all the various agricultural, governmental and industrial machinations going on in order to increase production and bring a higher standard of living to the poor Bolivian peasants who have grown it for generations.

Interesting… there are reports of higher levels of malnutrition among children in some of the Quinoa growing communities – now that it’s quadrupled in price (due to demand) some folks are selling what they used to keep, substituting rice or noodles in their own meals so some health conscious nut in the US can have their share, at a good price  – – yup, sounds like their standard of living is really increasing…

And while a boom in sales of quinoa have helped some farmers, others are concerned:

“The soils are tired and need nutrition. Production is dropping”

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The term “superfood” is of marketing origins.   Any food that gives you more calories and nutrition than you expended in getting it into your mouth and digested, is, technically, good for you.  Those that give you Waaayyyy more nutrition than standard fare are now labeled Superfoods.

Okay.

But consider this – Think back to all the new “Superfoods” that have come out in the past few years.   Gogi berry, Acai, Quinoa are a few that come to my mind.   Many of the top “Superfoods” are foods consumed by the healthy local natives, who grow and/or harvest the food without the aide of chemical fertilizers, modern technology, etc.   Often,  either the food is harvested in the wild, or grown as part of an interwoven garden, by folks who have to take good care of their soil because A. they don’t have much of it and B. They can’t afford to move anywhere else.

Once the Superfood is discovered – the Hawkfest begins.   The National economy, especially if the country is one of the debt-stricken southern ones, will greatly benefit from the demand of Northern countries for this new miracle food.

Corporate Interests are piqued – how can they make the most money of this new food?   What’s needed to increase production, transport/store/package and re-sell the new bounty?

And before long, the latest-greatest is now converted to a mono-cultural, industrial crop and it’s days of being a Superfood are now numbered.

In our quest to provide the world (or at least the world’s elite) with this new Nature’s Miracle and maximizing the financial rewards, we will set to work making it grow faster and provide higher yields – all in soil that never rests and which receives supplements containing the long-term benefits equivalent to me ingesting a steady diet of  Twinkies  .

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Ask any representative of DuPont, Monsanto or any others of their industry and they will tell you 1 farmer fed about 60 people in the 1940’s – 1950’s, but today’s farmer feeds over 200.  All thanks to their products, techniques and machinery.  They are solving world – hunger!

Read any research done comparing the nutritional value of  a industrially grown carrot to an organically grown, heirloom variety carrot from you or your neighbor’s garden and you will see that carrots, too, used to be a Superfood – but not so much now.  The garden carrot may not look as pretty, be uniform enough to package neatly and may not survive a 3,000 mile journey, 2 weeks of storage and still look like something you want to eat…BUT it’s nutritional analysis will outweigh it’s pretty, transported cousin.

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I once worked with a gal who had 5 children in 4 years.   She was pregnant with twins when we first started working together.   Her hair was falling out, she wore bandaids on her fingers, covered by plastic gloves, because her nails were so thin, they simply peeled off; concentration problems and numerous ‘sick days’ were the norm.   Although the first child seemed fairly healthy, the following four were wracked with numerous ailments –

I don’t think she planned on producing her own Super Army of offspring.   But the consequences of asking her body to perform, year after year, greater yields than it was programmed to, took a heavy toll.

When we demand the same kind of production from plants and soil, without regard to their care – sooner or later, we get the same end results.

And on we move, to discover (and then destroy) the next SuperFood.

 

 

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