-By Lauren Ouellette-Bruchez
I love food. Most people I know love food. These are gifts of the Earth Mother and the Sun God and provide us with another way to strengthen our relationship with the divine and with each other. We eat to celebrate and even share meals in mourning. Food is nourishment, fuel, a way for family and friends to come together and a means of connecting with our communities. At the very least, if you plan to stay upright and respiring, you need to eat occasionally.
Food was a big thing in my family — because it was the most consistent means we had of seeing one another. Growing up, I was the second oldest of five children until my brother passed leaving my parents with a great deal of medical debt and four girls to feed. My father worked multiple jobs at a time and my mother worked at a home for developmentally disabled people. They both had very bizarre work hours as a result. They worked hard to feed and clothe all of us and we never wanted for such things. We girls were all in school and involved with after school programs so the evening didn’t leave much time for cooking. We ate meals in a box, ramen, pancakes made of biscuit mix, canned vegetables, white bread, white rice and lots of plain pasta and sauce from a can. This food was tasty, quick to throw together, and inexpensive, which allowed our parents to get us a better meal than many people had. We even fed whichever friends happened to tag along with my sisters and I on any given night.
What no one knew was how eating out of boxes would affect our health and how hard the food industry would try to keep us all in the dark. How could anyone have really known? Most people want to trust. Not just other people, but in general. We want to believe that other people are good and wouldn’t wish to cause us harm. We want to believe that our government will always be honest with us. We especially want to believe that everyone is working toward a better future for our world and wouldn’t go out of their way to impede that progress. It’s this very belief that lays the foundation for lies.
I grew up watching television. We never had cable but local stations had just as many commercials. I would race home from school to catch afternoon cartoons. In the space of the hour and half I had been watching TV, there were dozens of commercials for frozen pizzas, prepackaged lunch foods, processed sweetened fruit leather, pudding pops and any number of teeth destroying candies. I would find myself invariably heading to the kitchen to see if we had any breakfast pastries, gummies or chocolates. Even in the evening, commercials were filled with images of decadent ice creams and fast food which always appeared more appetizing on TV than in real life. And even though we knew it wouldn’t look as good or taste as good as we thought it should, we’d still buy it.
I was being programmed, as was everyone who watched. In a recent Pagan Activist blog, Media, Mind Control, Myth and Magic, author Shauna Aura Knight explains how each of us is subtly and often, insidiously told what to think, how to feel and what to buy and she’s right. As we all know, words have power — not just the words we want to have power but all words, even the words of snake oil salesmen and marketing executives. Just like magickal practice, the more precise and deliberate your choices, the more likely you are the get the desired result. Marketing relies heavily on symbolic imagery and neuro linguistic programming to make you want something. But words are only a portion of the problem. If it was just words, things might be different, those tactics, less effective.
What would you say if you found out that the products themselves, when consumed, were instrumental in bringing you back to the box or the bag on a chemical level?
Recent studies are finding that the excessive use of processed carbohydrates, refined sugars, and even artificial sweeteners have addictive properties that rival those of cocaine and heroin. And no, I’m not having a really mean laugh at your expense. The mental effects of addiction alone make us susceptible to suggestion, especially in regard to the substance to which we are addicted. When your brain is chemically predisposed to wanting something, a simple suggestion or picture may be all it takes to make you buy more. In addition to the potential for very serious addiction, the myriad health concerns that accompany the use of those ingredients will blow your mind. Excessive amounts of sugars and processed carbohydrates can lead to vascular disease, type II diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, Parkinson’s disease and depression — to name a few.
Enafae Moore is a registered dietician, personal trainer and has taught numerous classes on spiritual well-being at events such as The House Kheperu Gathering, ASG, Paganfest and Pagan Pride. We recently discussed the effects of refined sugars and carbohydrates. She agrees that these ingredients can lead to very serious mental health issues. On the topic of depression she states, “You start to feel really lousy, because you’re not getting the nutrition you need. You gain weight. You get depressed and then you become a sheep”. In my own studies of marginal religious movements or cults, many cults are well known for restrictive diets, devoid of nutritious value also leading to impaired mental processes. It’s frightening that these states can mirror one another.
I have spoken a great deal about sugars and carbs but we haven’t yet discussed genetically modified organisms or GMOs. According to Enafae, all wheat and corn grown in the United States is genetically modified unless specifically labeled otherwise. In GMO wheat specifically there is the increased presence of a protein called gliata which affects the opiate receptive portion of the brain also leading to addictive side-effects. As with the previously mentioned substances, it can also lead to increased abdominal fat. As if these findings weren’t deterrent enough, GMO crops are sprayed with strong herbicides meant to eradicate the presence of weeds. But, as we know, Mother Nature has her ways and these weeds are now becoming resistant to the herbicides making it necessary to use even more.
So why are these ingredients still in use? It comes down to money. Refined sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, all-purpose flour, most of which is GMO, is cheap . Considering we can’t seem to get enough of it, it’s also extremely profitable in the United States. This is a list of companies that that produce GMO foods. So many of the items listed are staples in our pantries from brands we have been taught to trust, some of us, for our entire lives. We have been taught that if something we eat or drink could pose a threat to our health and well-being, that our government won’t allow that food to be sold. And we want to trust.
But that trust has been violated by the companies who profit from our nescience and our government which does not require sufficient food trials, both in regard to time and objective review. The FDA does have testing requirements however those tests are run by the same companies who sell the product, not an impartial third party.
This is a human problem which also makes it a Pagan community problem. Our Earth stands to suffer even more than it already has. Our bees are dying. Our soil is contaminated. The health of humans and animals is at risk.
Some may say that everyone makes their own choices, but this leads to an important point. Those in power, with money and our trust have stacked the deck against us. They fill our minds and homes with messages of consumerism and the need to be fulfilled by their products. They speak to your children, who do not have the capacity to discern the difference between topics of education and sales tactics , and teach them to guilt you into filling their lunchboxes with food that will endanger their health, while telling you with a smile, that what they offer is safe. They lobby our government to keep us in the dark about what precisely goes into the food that goes into our bodies. And then, once we eat their lies, we eat their food which physically and mentally programs our bodies to accept their influence.
I know this from firsthand experience. I have watched over time as my hard working parents were ravaged by poor health. Ten years ago, my mother who was 45 at the time, had a stroke which left her a hemiplegic. She did have a pre-existing blood condition however it was exacerbated by poor diet. My father lost his left leg below the knee to a gangrenous infection caused by diabetes almost two years ago. He used to live on pizza, Pepsi and junk foods of various types. They both suffered from depression.
When my father’s leg was amputated, I was terrified that he would give up. He loved to cook and I wasn’t sure that his new diagnosis wouldn’t irreparably damage his spirit. I’m so glad that he surprised my sisters and I. Once he received treatment for his diabetes, began to make health-conscious food choices and started to exercise on a consistent basis, his depression disappeared. He has lost weight and most importantly, to me anyhow, he smiles again and really means it. My father has told me so many times since then that he never knew how bad he felt until he addressed the problem.
Right now we are being given the choice and it is a hard pill to swallow. We can decide to continue on as we are, fighting epidemics of obesity, diabetes, depression and in some cases cancer and relegate future generations to combat the effects of environmental pollutants and devastating health concerns. Or we can continue to educate ourselves and others. We can vote with our money. While we currently live in a time of great economic disparity, if we support one another, our voices can be heard. Shop locally when possible. Find out where your food comes from. Speak up when something doesn’t seem right and find out who to speak to. Contact your grocery stores and your governmental representatives. Patronize and become a member of your local co-op. Grow food in your backyards and community gardens. Get your hands in the dirt and your heart into that which nourishes you and those you love. Respect the Earth Mother for all that she gives us, even after the disrespect with which she has been treated, after the disregard with which her children have been treated in exchange for the almighty dollar.
There is a world of research available, but I have listed a few resources below to assist you, including a list of apps for your phone so you can scan products to find out where they are from, what’s in them and if they are ethically produced. You can also find links to programs looking for volunteers and people willing to sign petitions. The most important acts of activism will take place in your homes and in your decisions to no longer support businesses who want your money more than your well-being. Have the courage to hold these big companies accountable for their dishonorable practices.
“Courage and honor endure forever. Their echoes remain when the mountains have crumbled to dust”. – The Witches Rede of Chivalry by Ed Fitch and Janine Renee
Enafae Moore, Registered Dietician, 248-722-4617, firstname.lastname@example.org