goodbye, high-fructose corn syrup…

Having a sudden day off due to my employer cancelling, I found myself with an extended weekend. I hadn’t watched a documentary in quite some time, and knowing my brother had a Netflix account I tapped into it this morning to find a film I read about nearly six months ago but forgot to pursue when it hit the market.

Forks over Knives is a slow-paced, statistical pursuit of not attacking any particular industry, but simply displays the facts of how American culture has become so entrenched with consuming processed goods that our demand for convenience is having much more grim repercussions than they’re worth. Following WWII, supermarkets started to boom in stocking shelves with concentrates, artificial sweeteners, and freeze dried meals that quickly made their way into the homes of most Americans. Consumerism was on the up-and-up, and soon our diets that used to consist of many locally grown farm products were replaced by processing factories that made BIGGER and CHEAPER items.

However, it wasn’t until the late 80’s that researchers began to notice a spike in the despairing health of Americans. Why were there so many heart attacks? Diabetes? Obese populations? They slowly began to trace it back not only to processed goods, but the fact that Americans no longer ate an abundance of produce. Instead, meats – particularly red – became staples of American culture, without much thought of how different this new diet was from past generations. Grandparents would scratch their heads at the size of their children, let alone their grandchildren, but it isn’t until now that we are starting to get the idea of what exactly is killing us off.

So where does that leave us now? Well, and I find this quite humorous, those that are daring to change their diets to whole food, plant-based consumption are typically labeled as hippies; and in certain subcultures of America (or maybe it’s an overall stereotype), men who venture to be vegetarians are emasculated because they don’t eat from the grill anymore. And yet, as you can see within this documentary, if not real life experiences, these people who phase out meat and processed goods are exceptionally healthier.

Sadly, and this disappoints me most, people of color within the United States are more susceptible to and have a greater history of these health issues; this is not because of their race, but because it’s simply all they can afford in light of how expensive a plant-based diet is. For example, Camden, a place more diverse and filled with people of color than most any other city in the nation, has only one grocery store where adequate goods can be purchased. All other stores hold processed, knock-off brand items that only perpetuate their current condition. I think I head the need for social reform whistling in the wind…

As for what this means for me, and hopefully you as well, if you’ve dared flatter me with reading this far, is that there needs to be a shift in how we spend our dollar. A year ago Sarah and I jumped on this endeavor of only buying goods from what are deemed “socially responsible” companies, but now it’s time to not only spend money where justice is upheld on a corporate level. I don’t have any singular verses from Scripture to throw on the table, but from what I do understand of the OT, God didn’t arbitrarily call some animals unclean and others clean for the Israelites to eat. He instead had the purpose of keeping the Israelites healthy with what He understood about His creation. For example, there was nothing inherently wrong about pigs, but the Israelites didn’t have the means of cleaning and eating pork properly. That’s why He said no, don’t eat it. So when taken with this context, I’m fairly confident in saying that the destruction of our own bodies with the crap we daily put into it isn’t all too pleasing to Him.

I have nothing clear-cut to offer here, which I believe is actually most appropriate, but I think considering and praying over the food choices we make may be something to consider. I understand it’s more expensive to pursue a diet that economically demands a greater grocery bill, but if you’re willing to reflect upon a diet change for the betterment of your life, perhaps the same can be done for all spending choices in general. In other words, use this time to evaluate how much you spend on extraneous expenses and shift some of that funding to buying goods that will allow for a much more sustaining and gratifying lifestyle. If you need more convincing and have 90 minutes, you could always watch this documentary, as well.

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~ by Chris Kyle on September 12, 2011.

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