A cool morning. The big maple outside the studio, where I write, is showing more red with each passing day, although the color is limited tot the outer branches. Overnight we needed a quilt on the bed.
Last evening we went down to the marina to watch the sunset. Actually, we sat on the veranda at Burlington Bay, and watched while we ate soft-serve ice cream. When we came back to the house, I settled down with the latest edition of Indian Country This Week. Being tired, I managed only one story, The Grains Did It!, by Eisa Ulen Richardson, a piece on recent archeological research into the diets of early Native people in the American Southwest. Essentially, the story suggested the injection of white flours and sugar into the diets of Native people was responsible for prevalence of diabetes in Native communities.
The article suggested the introduction of processed grains and sugar was a byproduct of colonialism. In the case of Native America, these foods arrived as a substitute for the whole grains, nuts and small game that had formed the basis of the Native diet prior to the forced removal from our lands. Processed foods came in the form of “commodities”, heavily industrialized products made from the overproduction of grains and dairy that occurs as an outcome of poorly conceived government farm subsidizes.
I found myself considering the implications of the story. Beginning in the 1950’s, these products made their way into the lives of most North Americans, taking the form of an ever growing volume of prepared and processed foods. Not surprisingly, researchers have noted a growth curve of chronic illness, obesity, and cancer that nicely fits the development of the prepared foods industry.
We see the impact of this shift from nutritious, wholesome food to industrialized “food products” daily in clinical practice. A host of physical and behavioral problems have now been linked to the industrial diet. Even some dementias are now implicated. Heavily processed foods are costly to both produce and to purchase. Now, a growing body of evidence indicates they are also enormously burdensome to our health care system.
Paradoxically, as the world’s food security diminishes due to population growth and climate change, we find ourselves collectively seeking new methods for increasing crop yield, and preserving and distributing essential nutrients. For the moment, we seem to be in a paradoxical position where we can store food indefinitely, but the food lacks nutritional viability. The locovore movement has arisen largely in response to this, yet there are serious questions about the ability of many localities to raise sufficient crops to feed the locals, let alone export to regions permanently or temporarily unable to be self supporting.
Corporations have long been, and continue to be, the engines of colonization in North America, Oceania, and Asia. They are clearly now engaged in creating suffering for Indigenous people around the world. While they are most blatant in their assault on Native people, their influence touches everyone. Here in New England, we need look no farther than our pantries, or our consulting rooms, for evidence of their influence.
There is a growing effort in Native communities to address these issues. This is immensely important as diabetes disproportionally effects Natives, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Here is a link to an article on some of the projects active in Native America.
I wonder, what is a creemie anyway?