To read Part 1 go here: www.jalilakrichi.com/blog/when-food-isnt-food-how-we-got-here-part-1
There is a lot of controversy around the health benefits of eating animals, which I will not go into here.
Suffice to say...I love me some steak.
...but also, I hold the belief that from Allah SWT's mercy, He gave us a a relationship with animals to enhance our lives:
"And the cattle, He has created them for you; in them there is warmth (warm clothing), and numerous benefits, and of them you eat."(Quran, 16:5)
As Muslims, we recognize our jobs as stewards of our earthly companions. We must to treat them well, give them what they were created to eat and help them thrive if for no other reason than because they are God's creation and we are going to be held accountable by Our Creator.
...but also for the obvious reason that their products will soon become part of us.
"And indeed, for you in grazing livestock is a lesson. We give you drink from what is in their bellies - between excretion and blood - pure milk, palatable to drinkers."(Quran, 16:66)
But back to the reality...
Thanks to the disruptive force of petroleum from the ground up, we are feeding exclusively-grazing herbivores corn. And not just any corn; petroleum-fertilized, genetically modified,pesticide-sterilized, nutrient-deficient corn.
As a result of the beef industries' feeding regimes, a cows' 7-chambered stomach (created to slowly digest large amounts of grass) becomes a distillery for quick-digesting corn.
In the beef industry is not only common, but expected that many cows will die due to high acidity in their bodies from the corn. Their ruminant stomachs become bloated with quick-fermenting corn, leading them to suffocate to death.
This is not to mention that the cows never see a blade of grass, are packed into close quarters, are living and sleeping in their own excrement....
If you are wondering how an cows survive to be marketed as beef, one word: antibiotics. (But seriously, that is another 3-part series in itself.)
And dairy-industry cows? Yeah, they don't fare much better.
I know, I know... you must be tired of reading all the doom-and-gloom. You are probably wondering what you can eat!
Surely chickens are treated better.
Not at all.
Not even close...
See, chickens are amazing. Naturally roamers, chickens give the gift of pest-control, fertilizer, nutritious eggs and at the end of their lives, meat.
(I know this because in the past three years I have personally raised over 300 chickens for both eggs and meat out of a sense of moral obligation.)
The current industrial model confines laying hens in packed cages with -you guess it- corn to eat. These hens never see the light of day (pale yolks, anyone?), and often get so stress that they become cannibalistic and eat the fellow inmates.
Meat birds share the same warehouse-fate, and are bred to grow so quickly and without physical movement that their legs often break under their weight. All of this super-charged animal product has been made possible only by that magical food ...can you guess? Yep! Corn!
How can the meat or eggs from these creatures be something nutritious (much less desirable) to eat?
It can't be.
Here, I feel the Animal Rights movement and moral-vegetarian/vegans can't be blamed for shaming the consumption of meat. There is so much wrong here that of course industrial meat prodution is certainly NOT healthy, or moral or tasty, or anything we want to be a part of!
Here, take a look at the nutritional value of conventionally raised animals vs pasture-raised (as God intended):
Graphs taken from: https://westonapricepasadena.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/our-february-2014-potluck-dinner-meeting-with-local-rancher-and-grass-farmer-john-de-bruin/
Basically, animals allowed to eat their natural diet far surpass the Omega-3 Fatty acid, Vitamin A, E, Folate and Beta Carotene contents of their industrial counterparts.
Those fed an unnatural diet of corn are basically deficient and toxic to eat.
God created every being to have an optimal natural diet, and when we work with animals instead of against their nature, we will reap the benefits.
Remember: if nutrition isn't in the soil, it isn't in the plant, it isn't in the animal, it won't be in you!
InshaAllah in the final post, I will give you tips and tricks to find nutrient-dense food that will nourish you and your family.
At some point, we have all fallen victim to the marketing ploys of the “health-food” fashion industry. The words “super-food” and “antioxidant-rich” flood the food advertising world, roping us in with scientific language and the promise of super-charged health.
We have been duped.
There is no such a thing as a crime-fighting fruit that wears a red cape, or a stand-alone vegetable that fights oxidation of your cells. There is no sole salad-savior or protein-protagonist to your life's health story.
That is not how health and food work.
Since the food industry has a track record of hijacking great words and using them so ambiguously as to render them meaningless, let us step back and look at the definition of food.
Go ahead, type in the words “define: food” into google, and at the very top of your search results you will see this:
Okay, so if the above definition is the standard by which we categorizes things as “food”, where do sodas, cookies, fast-food and twinkies fall?
But I digress...
For the purposes of this article, (and to further clarify what I think we intuitively hope the food we are consuming is) I will use the term “nutrient-dense food” to describe real, sustaining, life-enhancing food.
A Brief History of Food:
Unfortunately, we live in a time when the barakah (blessing, sufficiency) is being eroded from our food systems. Here is a a little agricultural history on why:
(Bare with me on this...it is worth it!)
For the vast majority of history, human beings fertilized crops with organic matter from animal waste, decaying plants and ash – the way the natural world does . These natural methods of enriching soil are investments that – over time- exponentially benefit the soil and the foods grown in it.
Traditional fertilizing methods also restored and enhanced the trace minerals (like magnesium, calcium, copper, iron) in the soil so that a plant's natural immune system would be enhanced. Farmers planted a variety of foods in smaller areas and rotated planting every year. These plots were manageable by just a few hooves and hands and the crop rotation and diversity drastically reduced the amount of disease in the plants and soil.
However, after World War I scientists discovered that Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) required for basic plant health could be derived from petroleum (to make weapons ) could be used to fertilize crops. These discoveries brought about by the war industry ushered in an Agricultural Revolution.
No longer did the farmer need to toil in animal excrement, but rather just till little petroleum-pellets in to the soil and voila!, instant fertility.
...or was it? The unforeseen side-effects of chemical fertilizer use is destruction of the natural fertility of soil. This means that the more of this fertilizer you use, the more depleted the food is.
The Bottom Line?
A plant can't give more nutrition than the soil it is grown in, and right now all of the fruits and vegetables we try to hard to buy and eat are mineral and vitamin poor.
Our soil is sick and depleted, and so are we.
Think chronic and psychological diseases such as anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, autoimmunity. All of these ailments are results of weakening bodies from poor nutrition.
The soil is not really fertilized and therefore not nourishing, the plants grown from it aren't nutritious and as a result we are not adequately nourished.
“Evil (sins and disobedience of Allah, etc.) has appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men have earned (by oppression and evil deeds, etc.), that Allah may make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order that they may return (by repenting to Allah, and begging His Pardon).” (Quran 30:41)
The reduction of nutrients in plants travels up the food chain to us, but not just through us eating fruits and vegetables. The animals we eat are also – you guessed it – nutrient deficient ...
InshaAllah in the following posts in this series, we will discuss how the animal products we eat are effected by nutrient deficient soils, and how to find nutrient rich foods for you and your family....