Spring, Your Body, and Agriculture

Practice Announcements

1. At the end of this month we have the Carotid Intima-Media Thickness (CIMT) technician from Cardio Risk returning for CV screening at the office. We have a handful of slots open, so call us if you are interested or want more info.

2. We are planning an Open House Work and Play Day at Pleroma Farm to celebrate the St John’s Day Festival (end of June). Details to follow. Mark your calendar. Tentative date Sat 6/22.

Spring, Your Body, and Agriculture

1. Spring & Conquering Death

Do you know what the primary outcome of a dying system is? No, it’s not nothingness or devastation. It’s the birth of a new system.

This is perhaps the most basic rule of life, and we see it play out every spring.

Imagine a purely empirical scientist arriving at a spot on Earth in the late spring and studying the vegetative life through the course of the year until late autumn. The predictions for the days that would follow would be grim. How else could it be seen? The winter and frozen tundra would likely surpass the scientist’s worst imaginations. Shock and awe would be fitting emotions as winter deepened. Projections for the future would be devastating. How could anyone predict a spring season of rebirth rising from the deep winter?

But that’s just what it does. As we know, hidden within the winter are the seeds for the spring, being perfectly prepared for the new season by the coldness and barrenness, ripening conditions for their later growth. What a miracle we live with each spring!

Inside every old system lies the seeds for the future. The new forms and new systems have fresh information. Death is the prerequisite for renewal. Raise your morning shot of fire cider and let’s toast rejuvenation and fresh starts and death’s role in that.

Embracing (1) death as a vital aspect of healthy life and (2) the anticipation of renewal in emptiness have long been components of fully knowing the total experience of life. 

2. The Body

The body, our living temple, provides a nice continuation of this theme. Our body is constantly replacing the old with the new. Every system and every organ has maturation and ultimately death. Emerging behind these is new growth.

It takes an average of SEVEN years for the body’s cells to turn over. This is a fun stat to ponder.

Each organ has a different rate of turnover, but the average time for total organ turnover is 7 years. Some organs are faster — like the gut lining. This turns over every 5 days! On the other hand, the brain’s cellular turnover is very slow — well below 2% of the brain’s cells turnover each year. The brain and the heart both have cells that don’t turn over for our entire life!

No matter on what scale or in what form, if there’s life, there’s always a Phoenix rising out of the ashes.

Forces that propagate old systems beyond their allotted span have to reckon with the fact that they are interfering with the natural process.

3. Agriculture (and politics)

This “Pheonix rising” theme carries into the food policies that have started since World War II. That’s when the next level of industrial science met food production and the processed food movement kicked into gear.

One hundred years ago 0% of a child’s diet in America contained processed food. Now some estimates have it that processed food makes up 70% of the typical child’s diet.

A natural food movement gained momentum in the 60s and 70s proving that a movement alone is not enough to change the system. The industry trajectory intensified. Food became more processed by the year despite the establishment of the small oases that are natural food stores.

The discovery of the Microbiome in the 2000s was a huge strike against processed foods, which by then carried the name ultra-processsed foods. Our bodies had never experienced these chemicals. Now we could directly measure how our nutritional resilience and microbiome were thrown off by these foods. This just proved that knowledge is not enough, even when combined with a movement, to derail powerful incentives and special interests.

Now we have a third and more potent situation challenging the status quo in health and food production. Now we have a crisis that should bring the issue of ultra-processed food to a head… maybe.

Metabolic Health

We now have a crisis of metabolic health in the country and on the planet, the likes of which have never been seen before. We are getting more chronically sick, more depressed, and more infertile than ever. The obesity crisis spans the globe (over 1 billion people and over 2 billion overweight); diabetes and heart disease are super prevalent. Ultraprocessd food is not solely to blame but certainly is a major contributor.

Just look at these stats:

  • 94% of adults in America are metabolically dysfunctional
  • 80% are overweight or obese
  • 50% of kids in the US are overweight 
  • 20% of kids in US have childhood obesity (compare with 3–4% in Japan) and 33% have prediabetes

There is no sound food policy. Subsidies support ultra-processed junk food creation. School lunches are… you guessed it, ultra-processed. 10% of food stamps go to Coca-Cola. There is inadequate education to train kids how to move well, eat well. We don’t walk to work or school.

The Power Is In You

There are some strong voices in Washington working on policy, but the center (central government) is mostly capable of measuring and responding to what comes from the periphery (the people). The creative power exists in the periphery. Yes, we are the periphery. Industry (and policy alike) are most effectively influenced by a massive informed collective of individuals who disrupt industry profits by being selective. We vote with our dollar bills.

I think we are overdue for an overhaul of our food system. The health crisis might drive new national policy, but there certainly are no guarantees. Many question if it is beyond repair. In the meantime, you can do your part by eating a clean diet. We do a big part of the job by avoiding ultra-processed foods. Ask yourself if you can commit to buying organic. Go all in, if you can. Keep sugar and starch to a minimum and don’t eat out all that often. You’ll make a lot of your investment back in what you save in hospital/ER/prescription fees.

Are you already all in? It’s an investment in all of us.