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....