Why is there famine in my heart when there’s plenty on the table?

Last month, I made a post about the Hunter within me.  How it manifests in thoughts and actions.  And how even in an environment of relative plenty I feel impoverished and hungry.  I made that comment almost as an aside without realizing what was there.

I’m beginning to understand why.  The food we’re given is poison to the Hunter, and he knows it.  He picks at eggs that come from malnourished chickens, and begrudgingly eats potatoes full of antinutrients and partially defused toxins.. fried in vegetable oil that is full of Omega-6 fats.  He looks around for food he can eat that will make him whole, and is discovering that even what is supposed to be the “right food” is so deficient in the vitamins and fats his Hunter mind and body needs that he eats to survive, not to thrive.  He is sick, he is tired, he is dying under the weight of corn-fed animals slaughtered for meat and corn syrup poured into everything else.  The Hunter craves food that is healthy, food that nourishes his body, his mind, and his spirit.  Instead, all that he is fed is inappropriate.. quite literally bird seed and feces.

I could go on for pages about this.  I’ve ranted privately, and tweeted publically, about all the sloppy science and outright lies we’ve been told (example: did you know that there is very little evidence that shows cholesterol causes heart disease?  And in fact, cholesterol actually has net positive effects on cardiovascular ((Horwich, T.B. et. al, “Low Serum Cholesterol is Associated With Marked Increase in Mortality in Advanced Heart Failure”, Journal of Cardiac Failure vol. 8 no. 4, 2002, pp 216-224)) ((Jacobs D. et. al., “Report of the Conference on Low Blood Cholesterol: Mortality Associations”, Circulation vol 86 no 3, September 1992, pp 1046-1060)), but more importantly, mental health?  And that cholesterol is actually needed by our brains for neurotransmitter function, like seratonin absorption? ((Engelberg, H, “Low Serum Cholesterol and Suicide”, Lancet no. 339, March 21, 1992 pp. 727-728))  Yes, my friends who take SSRIs: that low cholesterol level your MD is proud of and prescribing medication to maintain may be making your depression worse.).

There are no easy answers.  As I discovered early in this search for knowledge, there’s a lot of entrenched “common sense” that is outright bollocks.  Many of you in my circle of friends have bought a whole lot of bullshit.  Conspiracy theories aside, the Food Establishment wants to keep you dumb and confused.  The foods they are feeding you are cheap to make, can be sold to you at considerable profit, and controlled as commodities by megacorporations and governments to rape both the planet and our blessed farmers who toil on Her surface.  By making statements like your form of diet is “better for the planet” you are in essence saying “this form of rape is more acceptable.”  And I’m not just looking at vegetarians here, although from my perspective as the Hunter you seem especially silly in this regard.

But, fundamentally it is still rape.  You don’t know any better, so as much as the Hunter wants to rage, he is just beginning to understand.  And he is beginning to feel sorrow for his world: a world that takes away individualism, replaces it with empty promises of a better tomorrow while virtually guaranteeing there will be no tomorrow.

One of the books I stumbled across in this quest was The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.  Even though I never had the notion of vegetarianism as a “save the planet!” perspective, she utterly shatters any hope of me ever accepting that viewpoint.  She also rearms my feeling about eating “paleolithically” with more hard evidence that the modern diet of corn, potatoes, and other grains is fundamentally unhealthy.  But the strongest words of all were the ones that spoke directly to the Hunter within.

Somewhere inside you is an animal that wants to eat. There’s no dishonor in that animal. She’s the same animal who wants to curl up around her sleeping beloveds, to keep them safe and warm. She’s the same animal who comes alive at the smell of rain. She’s an animal who belongs here.

She’s four million years old. She’s in the shape of your teeth, the empty bowl of your one stomach. She’s in your stalwart heart, a hundred years strong, surrounded by animal fat. She’s in the folds of your brain, and the messages they can carry. Across four million years, these folds grew exquisite, until the messages needed an answer. Your animal found language, art. She answered. She drew what mattered. Go look. The pictures are still there. She left them for you: take, eat, this is the body we have made, predator and prey together. This is the pact, the prayer, our true first communion, not wine but blood: we are all part of each other.

Bow your head and take aim. Then take your turn.

This Hunter may finally be ready to take his. For the sake of brotherhood, for the sake of this planet, for the sake of the millions of years of evolution that has created every one of us, I hope others join me.

If you’d like to follow along with my “journey”, here’s a brief reading list.

  • the aforementioned The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith.
    Written from a feminist perspective, so some of the feminism might be hard to swallow for us men.  Very well researched, with tons of references and cites.
  • The Paleo Diet: Lose Weight… by Loren Cordain
    Written as a diet self-help book, and sometimes hammers a point into a fine powder, but a great launching point for research.  It’s worth buying just for the bibliography and citations.
  • The New Evolution Diet by Arthur deVany.
    Another look at the Paleolithic diet perspective.  Written more as a narrative of one man’s journey than a “how-to” book, but still very meaty and cite-rich.
  • Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand
    While not strictly written along the lines above, it is the book that is almost single-handedly responsible for getting me to question the mainstream “environmentalist” movement’s motives and ideals.  If Lierre Keith is written from the perspective of “burn it all down, civilization is a cancer” this book proffers the perspective that civilization and the environment can, in fact, peacefully coexist IF we are willing to accept the lessons civilization’s failures are teaching us.
  • Almost forgot this one.  Watch the movie King Corn.  It will sicken you how we’ve taken formerly proud citizen-farmers and turned them into corporate wage slaves.

12 thoughts on “Why is there famine in my heart when there’s plenty on the table?

  1. I reject the notion that we should do something merely because a primitive ancestor did so. By that logic, we should look at the pollution from the early industrial age and say “my goodness! We are deviating from our natural behavior! We must go back to polluting!” The quotes you cited from the Vegetarian myth are tantamount to that. (along the lines of ‘Caveman hunted and ate meat and therefore we should also’)

    I assert that our calling now is to make *intelligent* choices. And choosing vegetarianism isn’t a free ride there either. The two biggest sellers of vegetarian “meat” products are Morningstar Farms and Boca. You may know them better as Kelloggs and Kraft Foods, respectively, both part of the megacorp “rape” you describe. Many vegetarian products are just another product line from the already established big agribusiness.

    But shopping and eating *consciously*, from local farmers who can document that they employ sustainable, environmentally-moderate methods, minimizes this. You can also get meat that is grown this way. It’s damn expensive, and probably almost none of you are buying it. And it’s probably better for the environment than what Kellogs and Kraft are doing. So there’s a case where meat-eating can actually be better than eating vegetarian, but only by comparing apples to oranges.

    That said, Kraft non-meat is still better for the environment than Kraft real-meat, an apples to apples comparison, for the reasons I covered in a prior explanation. And most restaurants, especially fast food, are serving you products from Kraft or their kin (because it’s cheap, consistent, and available everywhere)

    The right answer however is to look at what you’re eating, who makes it, where it comes from, and what cost it comes with. Then make food choices that are consistent with the impact on your body and the planet. It’s as much about how “big business” is bad for the environment as it is specific food types or ingredients.

    • First off, simply “rejecting” the notion is a fallacy. We are as much a product of evolution as any other being on the planet. You can “reject” it all you want: but agriculture is, evolutionarily speaking, a recent invention. We existed for hundreds of thousands of years before the invention of agriculture, and we only have been living a very short time with it.

      And some of us haven’t even been living with the products of agriculture that long. As I’ve stated previously, I can actually NAME my ancestor who lived a paleolithic lifestyle. For me, that speaks louder than anything else: “white man’s” sugars and diseases are new concepts to my dominant genetics.

      What I reject wholesale is your assertion that Kraft non-meat is better for the environment than real meat. As a cite, I present the entire book The Vegetarian Myth. I encourage… heck, I’ll go so far as to say “implore you” … to read it and make your own opinion after hearing her rebuttal to all your arguments. It is worth noting that I discovered her book after our last argument along these lines, and she and her research convinced me, period end-of-story. So, I would like to hear a direct rebuttal of her arguments, because until such time, I’m pretty much sold.

      We are in agreement, however, that the right answer is to look at what you are eating. I asked you before, and I don’t think I ever got an answer: where do you think the potassium comes from for your veggie burger?

  2. The biggest thing here that I reject is, “convinced me, period end-of-story.” The idea that this person that wrote that book has *all* the answers. And, knows *the* best way for *everyone* to eat.

    Personally, I don’t think there is one way of eating that is healthy for everyone. I think arguments, like Archer’s, that say that in his own bloodline, there hasn’t been as much time for his body to be able to evolve from the “hunter/gatherer” model, is a valid one.

    The hunter/gatherer model is a model where meat is highly prized. But also one, where it is often scarce.

    My genetics on the other hand… My ancestors come primarily from the bread basket of Eastern Europe. And the main reason why I’ve eaten vegetarian for most of my life is because it feels better in my body. I notice that I have a more difficult time processing meat. And, I end up using a lot of energy just trying to process my food. So for me being primarily vegetarian works.

    And, although I don’t have time to read that book. I am curious as to how it is rationalized that cutting back a forest to make pasture for cows is better for the environment?

    • In any scientific inquiry, you often start with a question, work towards a hypothesis, collect data, and feedback that data into your findings and then either rework your hypothesis or come to the conclusion that you have “proven” your hypothesis to a level of certainty that you are satisfied with.

      Meat was not scarce in hunter/gatherer societies. That is the first myth you need to remove from your head. It was prized precisely because it was abundant, contains all the nutrients your body needs to survive (regardless of what you might think, it’s an absolute FACT that the human animal requires certain vitamins and nutrients that ONLY have animal sources), and unlike vegetation is available year-round.

      You are still human. That’s another myth that even I have bought in to, and I’m beginning to challenge myself (although I still hold that there is something different about my psyche that may have a genetic component). There are nutrients your body needs that can ONLY come from animal sources. It is possible to get most of those nutrients from milk and eggs, but that is wrought with complications today which are beyond the scope of what I can put in a reply box. Again, I can only refer you to my cites: if you choose not to read them, that’s not a “me problem.”

      As to your question about “how is it rationalized”, you’re asking the wrong question. That’s the biggest myth of all. You are setting up a false dichotomy: that the only solution we have available is either raping the environment to produce meat, or raping the environment to produce vegetables. There are third, fourth, and even fifth options… options I bet you haven’t even considered. Options that allow us to produce food in concert with what Nature intended, rather than against Her.

      And saying “you don’t have time to read that book” is just intellectually lazy. You don’t have time to NOT read this book, or study this issue from all sides. Our planet is being killed by agribusiness, and if you care about the future of human life on this pithy rock, you owe it to yourself to pursue the truth.

    • It’s also worth pointing out that I actually think you, personally Wednesdey, would get way more out of reading The Vegetarian Myth than I did. I think her life story may partially resonate with you, and even if you walk away from reading it unconvinced of her message you will admire her strength and her courage.

      Her book teaches a number of lessons, not just about diet but about life, feminism, and learning how to believe in ones-self.

  3. I agree that agribusiness is horribly destructive. So is factory farming. Both of those are appalling in their destruction of land. My understanding is that factory farming leads to increased need for agribusiness, creating an exponential factor.

    If it were possible to wipe out the current models for farming animals and plants in order to remodel the system. I’m sure there are possible responsible ways to produce both with much lower impact on the environment. That would be GREAT if it could happen.

    I will put that book on my to read list. It does sound interesting. I value your opinion and recommendation.

    • Here’s the point I’ve been trying to make with Brian. Agribusiness needs factory-farming of animals to survive at any level, so by continuing to “buy-in” to the present system you are no better than somebody who simply eats animal products. You are supporting the system that needs to change.

      There are alternatives. I’m just exploring them, but (as an example) I can purchase meat from sustainable family farms, I can hunt for meat (something I want to start, and this is of benefit as we presently have an “issue” in some parts of the US of overpopulation of certain ruminant species).

      Most of the reasons why the vegetarian statement of “meat is worse than veggie” is based upon the assumption that we must feed beef cattle corn. The irony? Corn makes poor cattle feed, and produces a beef product that is nutritionally inferior to grass-fed cattle. Also, beef production in some of the parts of the country where cattle is farmed (the Southwest as an example) requires ridiculous amounts of water.. and doesn’t make sense at any level.

      Ideally, we’d build the Buffalo Commons and let the bison run free, and provide good meat for all Americans. Until that time, we can use cattle on the grassy plains. Their manure will nourish the soil, the microbes in their digestive tract will restore the nitrogen cycle to a natural norm, and restore a significant chunk of this continent’s beauty and habitat.

      This is just ONE alternative. There are literally hundreds of alternatives that fit every natural environment on this planet. And as she points out in her book, it is only by us going back to our natural place as both predator (and potential prey, and that doesn’t mean what you might think) that we have any hope of saving the planet.

  4. I dunno… If you look at the reviews of that book, the very first one calls into question a large amount of the research in the book. That makes me wary, you know?

    • One cannot properly rebut an entire book in a Amazon product review, regardless of how eloquent one is.

      More importantly, none of the diet suggestions in any of the sensible “paleo” literature deviates that drastically in spirit from the “conventional wisdom” of a healthful diet. It is, in essence, telling you to eat a low-carb diet rich in lean meats (preferably with high Omega-3 fats), moderate amounts of seasonal fruit and nuts, root and leaf vegetables, and avoiding starchy vegetables and grains. Whether or not the evolutionary science backs it up or not (while I believe of does, I can accept the controversy) is largely irrelevant.

      But that we as beings were not designed to thrive on grains and starches is in my mind irrefutable. The evidence outlined in the book (and all the science I’ve read) backs up that claim, and the simple fact is that those foods are inedible by the human animal without processing. You could no more eat a handful of raw, unprocessed wheat than your car can. That’s a pretty big clue to me that maybe I shouldn’t eat it at all, even when processed.

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