I’m going to go out on a limb… these are my personal viewpoints and everyone is entitled to his or her own. I encourage your thoughts in comments but please be courteous in all responses.
For most of my life, I have lived in rural America. I have lived and WORKED on different types of farms. Small and large. Grain fed livestock. Grass fed livestock. Wild Caught. Organic. Conventional. GMO. Pesticides. No pesticides. Cage free. Barn housed livestock. For most of my life, I lived in the world but did not dig deeper. I did not try to understand more. I just went with a mentality that “this is how it’s always been” and “this is how it is”.
That’s what happens when you are conditioned to your environment. I was responsible to care for the cattle in my younger years. I transitioned to attend Ohio State and took nutrition courses, studied abroad to New Zealand and Ireland on agriculture-focused trips and took my own initiative to begin to explore healthy eating. Upon graduation, I began working for a biotechnology company, producing genetically modified seeds and chemicals for crops. This was when my shift happened.
I really started to research, analyze and observe the people I was working with, the information being shared about food/food production and the missing links behind specific businesses. I started to learn more on my own terms. I started to read, research, ask questions to farmers and growers. I began to observe my body. I did not want to just live in a world, without feeling and knowing. The more I explored, researched and monitored myself, the more I decided to make choices FOR ME and my well being, based on my findings. Every part of the industry has its flaws. But what really mattered to me was beginning to change my eating and feeling the difference in my body.
I received an Instagram message last night that got me thinking. It provoked me a bit. I realized I have not spoken to this side of my food background in a while. And it is time to raise my voice.
Today, I support all forms of agriculture and food. Large to small. Local to far away (let’s be real, there is no locally grown coffee in the US). Organic to GMO. Grain fed to pasture fed and cage free. In supporting these methods, I do not necessarily choose to EAT all foods using these methods. As a bodybuilder, I eat a lot of protein and quite frankly, I cannot afford all organic, pasture raised meats. But, I do choose organic, local vegetable and fruits all times possible. And I do choose to omit processed foods 90% of the time, including boxed items or those purchased at restaurants. Because that is what my body responds to and better absorbs. How do I know this? Years of trial and error. Years of watching the outside of my body and observing the feelings inside my body.
I believe what we consume either heals us or harms us. And I’m at the point where I can justify spending a little more on foods that will be healing and preventing future illnesses or issues than creating them. You might not be to a level of understanding, knowledge or care at this point in your life. That is OK. I just hope that I can help someone determine what can work with their body, budget and beliefs.
There are different levels of eating we choose.
- Eat whatever we want when we want or eat what we have available to us
- Be inclusive of healthy foods from whole foods and processed (ie: pastas, crackers, etc) foods
- Be inclusive to only whole or naturally derived foods (no processed but not quite paleo)
- Be exclusive to only higher quality meats (grass fed, wild caught, non-GMO)
- Be exclusive to organic/natural foods, processed and unprocessed
- Be exclusive to organic whole produce and decent quality meats
- Be exclusive to organic whole produce and high quality meats
- Be a variation from the above and figure out what WORKS FOR YOU!
In a first world country, we have more choices available than ever! We need that for a growing populous. We also have more confusion and marketing too. This could be improved from local to federal levels.
I believe it is important to support our world’s strong food system today. It is working to improve daily for a growing world. Because I am lucky to live in a country with ample supply and CHOICES, I don’t eat all the types of foods. And I’m blessed to have that choice.
It’s great to feel passion for one side or another. That’s how politics is. However, I believe as the world evolves, we will need to blend and mend. We will have to collaborate, understand and work together. At the end of the day, our world needs that.
If there is a part of the food system you don’t understand, read about it. Reach out to a farmer and set up a farm tour. Read BOTH sides. Then, set your standard and viewpoint. If I can be of any help to better understand food, nutrition and the food system, please let me know.