I don't try to cause controversy when I write, and I definitely try to be as positive as I can be. This may not be one of those articles. It will be positive, but I feel it may spark a little debate. My hope is that it brings understanding and FRIENDLY conversation to the table.
While you read this please keep in mind I was raised country, I love animals, I'm health-minded, and there are always different opinions.
I spent this summer on a mission. I'm very grateful to the people at Birchwood Chevrolet in Winnipeg for their support as I got to drive to some of my old stop grounds in Rural Manitoba. That's right folks, I'm a Canadian country boy. It was my last two months of travel that got me thinking about how I eat, and obtain food. It all came to a head while visiting farms during "Open Farm Day" in Manitoba.
There are far too many people, who are so far removed from what they eat that they don't understand what they are doing to their bodies. Our farming practices have become big business, and the little farms need to come back to the spotlight. It's not all doom and gloom, but we need a few tweaks on some things.
Here are the big thoughts.
1) I'm not vegan, nor will I ever be truly vegan in the near future. That being said I have over the past 5 years cut back drastically on the amount of meat I eat. I try to do one or two days a week that is entirely plant-based. My hope is that people realize that lives are being taken so we can eat. If you eat a meal with meat, an animal gave it's life for that. Personally, I have no problem with that. I'll eat meat, I will even hunt and have hunted in my life. Nothing beats deer steaks or prairie chickens. The ability to get food from nature is missing in today's society. At the point of purchase in a super market, we are very far away from the source of that food. We lose the soul of what goes into us being fed. Meals become less meaningful. It's one of the reasons I love the Native Culture, it's the gratitude to the animal that has given it's life so we can continue ours. There is beauty in gratitude.
If more people stopped to be grateful, I firmly believe it would put a stop to over-eating. Bacon cheese burgers means both a pig and a cow had to die for your meal. Food is fuel, it should remain that way. Enjoy the odd feast in life, but respect the fact that you are eating an animal. We need to stop over consuming animal products. Look back on history, people didn't eat meat daily, it wasn't always available. Now we over eat animal products daily. We live longer, but I'm not sure we always live healthier.
2) Our farmers do not get enough credit. There are people who work day and night to ensure we have food. Not just a little bit of food, but more food than we know what to do with. We stock the shelves of massive stores and no one really goes out of their way to thank farmers.
I grew up in a rural town. So as my career grows, and as I give workplace wellness seminars, I love to stress this point. We are fortunate in our society that men and women love to work the ground, work hard, and produce food that we can enjoy.
It's best to get food as close to the farm as you can get it. Support and eat local food for the most nutrition and flavor you will ever experience. I'm amazed at how many people out there choose food from a box instead of visiting their local farmers markets. You will not believe the amazing taste, and the quality of meals you can get. If you don't know how to cook with real ingredients, it's time to learn! Cook with herbs and seasonings, stay away from sauces.
Crampton's Market and Vita Health in Winnipeg are my two favorite haunts.
Instead of sitting in front of the TV, make a trip to a farmer's market, buy some of the best produce you have ever tasted, and cook a meal.
Or watch reruns of your favorite show. Whichever works for you
3) Serving size has got way out of control and if we realized the work that goes into food production, we'd understand what a calorie is. Your body was designed to hunt and gather, eat, then enjoy time with friends and family. The hunting and gathering was a big drain on the calorie system.
Now we can get 10 x as much food, with 1/10 the effort. It's why I'd love to see people start their own gardens. Nothing beats the feeling of growing your own plants, and produce. Community gardens are available in most major cities. It's the perfect place to grow very simple things. The experience of growing your own food is second to none. It will also make you appreciate food more. That appreciation will slow down your eating, and reduce your serving size.
What I'm really hoping people do is realize that food is important. Be vegan, vegetarian or a meat eater. I don't care which way you do it, you can be healthy any way you want. Don't judge anyone for their choice, understand where there choice comes from. I truly appreciate and love nature, but believe in the food chain and believe humans are Alpha.
Appreciate your food. Enjoy your meals. Take a second to be grateful for the animal that is sustaining you, and the farmer who worked all summer to produce your meal. It will change the way you see food.
Visit a farm, fuel your body with local fare. Enjoy the life of someone who is conscious and aware of what goes into their meal.
Your body is a machine, fueling it properly and mindfully will make you healthy and help you do this wellness thing with a little more ease. Mindful eating is part of how I'm going to get this Nation healthy, One Fit City at a time.
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