As we chew our food, we also choose our future. Yet how casually we perform this miracle of transformation! The way we eat is the basis of how we feel, how we look and what we achieve. And perhaps more than anything else we do, it has profound ecological and social impact on the entire planet.
Our food deserves our attention, whether our aim is to find health, save the planet or simply to experience gratitude. In any case, joy awaits us.
The principles of eating well are simple:
— Eat natural.
— Eat a variety of foods, mostly plants.
— Don’t go crazy.
— Above all, enjoy your food.
We believe in natural foods because the wisdom of Nature is no metaphor, the difference between our minds and the mind of Nature being only one of size. From Nature we learn the truths of wholeness, balance and evolutionary change. Manufactured foods are a mirror of our limited understanding of life. Separated, refined or synthesized foods lack nutrients and contain molecules never before encountered by a living organism. The superiority of natural foods is not just a matter of philosophy, but has been proven many times over through scientific study.
Food produced through organic farming, without chemical pesticides and fertilizers, is also a must in healing our environment. Entire water supplies have been ruined through agricultural runoffs, billions of tons of topsoil lost annually, species brought to extinction, and unknown numbers of people injured through our chemicalized “mining” of our farmland. Cattle raising has been particularly wasteful, requiring ten to twenty times the resources to produce animal versus vegetable protein. We have the option of looking forward to centuries or millennia of agricultural production, rather than merely decades, and you can make the difference by choosing what passes through your mouth.
In making that choice, highlight the plant foods that are strongly associated with long and healthy lives: the rainbow of fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains and beans. These are loaded with essential nutrients and protective factors that may prevent or even reverse the leading killer-diseases.
Dairy products, fish, poultry and meats can play a positive role if they are raised cleanly, naturally and sustainably. Unfortunately they would be the exception in today’s marketplace.
To avoid going crazy over food, remember that it is only one ingredient of health, the others being a sense of meaning and purpose in life, exercise, rest, clean air and water, natural light, the love of family and friends, and so on. In your personal recipe for happiness, don’t overdo one ingredient — you’ll then have to double or triple the others. If you’re especially sloppy, this can take lifetimes.
In learning about nutrition for more than 45 years, I have found no optimum diet that applies to everyone. You are not average or typical. You are unique. It is my belief, after modifying my own diet many times, cultivating deep sensitivity through fasting, meditation, yoga, and shiatsu, being treated by naturopaths, kinesiologists and psychics and talking with thousands of customers in my natural food store, that your own subtle sense is your best guide.
This is not exactly a pleasure principle, because not all cravings are healthy ones. But the body speaks to us, in ways both loud and silent, and we should heed it. And whatever we eat, we should enjoy our food; otherwise, it is poison to us. In the words of our friend Paavo Airolo, the late, great nutritionist whose foresight amazes me even today, “It is better to eat junk food and enjoy it, than to eat the healthiest food and hate it.”
About Laughing Water:
Laughing Water, originally Paul Superak, was brought to the Ranch by Judith and Ike Lasater. He came as the cook for the first real workshop in 1975, which featured Judith Lasater, Paul and Linda Copeland, and Felicity Hall who is now known as Felicity Green. Like many of the original core group, including India Supera, Heidi Goldman, Tom Ryan and others, he never left. He started the Real Food Store that fall in Helena as everyone likes to say, “on $2000 and 27 different types of rice and beans.”
Throughout the years, Laughing Water has remained one of the Feathered Pipe’s most steadfast and dedicated supporters, believing passionately in its mission as he does about the role of natural food in bringing about healthier, happier and more peaceful individuals and communities. LW continues to own and run the Real Food Market & Deli in its current expanded form, proud to have been Montana’s first fully certified organic grocery store and offering Helena a warm and welcoming center for community.