by Vernon Huffman
Look behind the plasticized packets of meat on your supermarket shelves to find an unhealthy industry. How many acres of GMO corn and soy are required to fatten the cattle in those smelly stockyards? How do chickens grow with clipped beaks and broken wings? How nutritious is eating an animal that wallows in excrement or is injected with hormones?
Depressed by the meat case? Walk down the isle, pick up a box of any kind of food and read the label. What do geneticists do to corn in order to maximize high fructose syrup? What are the long term effects of consuming this stuff? How will future agriculture be impacted by genetically altered pollen blowing around the breadbasket of the nation? Can we really afford over-processed, over-packaged, expensive to ship "food?"
Hydrogenated oil is a mystery to me. Why would you process oil in a manner that imitates rancidity and renders it much less nutritious? Trans-fats have been implicated in epidemic obesity and heart disease, but they are still common in our foods. Why do we buy this garbage?
Comparing cultures, we can see the long-term health benefits of a raw vegan diet. Nearly every nutritionist will recommend fewer animal products, less processing, and a broad variety of fresh, raw fruits, nuts, sprouts, and vegetables. Not only does such a diet eliminate the necessity of distastefully cruel processes, but it is much more efficient in terms of land and energy requirements.
Just removing unnecessary packaging from your food stream is a great step in the right direction. Digging up minerals and felling trees are not required in order to eat, if we can reduce the distance between the garden and our mouths. Gardening is a simple, low stress lifestyle that uses our time pleasantly and productively. You save money when you take direct responsibility for growing a healthful diet.
The chart below shows how the average American could grow a full diet on just over one acre per person. Of course, specific conditions will make this number vary for each locale. This raw vegan diet exceeds USDA requirements.
It's common sense, so why don't we do it? It takes dedication to sprout and culture your own food, but no more time than shopping and cooking require. Certainly many elements need to come together to grow your own raw vegan diet. The idea is a radical departure from the normal lifestyle of the average American. It takes a while to get used to, much less to actually do it.
Not everyone has access to an acre of land, but most could arrange it if it were a priority. In some areas, land use can be augmented using greenhouses. Perhaps many families would need to grow more than they consume in order to pay for the land, but with some marketing savvy, it's never very difficult to sell nutritious food.
The portion of most plants (including everything above corn on the list above) that is best to eat is the sprouted seeds. Sprouting gives much more nutrition than other ways of eating the plant, as well as eliminating the need for cooking. Seed storage requires no refrigeration and very little space.
Most of these plants are not particularly difficult to grow in the quantities needed for a balanced diet. Different climates will favor specific varieties of calabash or brassicas, but they can be grown almost anywhere. Beans and alfalfa will fix nitrogen in the soil and make it easier to grow the other plants organically. Once bamboo is established, it can be a challenge not to grow more than you need.
Perhaps the greatest surprise from this research is the amount of land that needs to be dedicated to mushrooms. They are essential to the diet as a source of B vitamins and minerals. Some mushrooms, such as Crimini, are also excellent for protein. If you're not close to a natural forest with wild mushrooms, you can cultivate many varieties in a dank crawl space or shaded corner of your land.
Considering the forecasts for our future, it seems very wise to grow our own food and consume a simple, fresh, raw vegan diet. Let's each dedicate ourselves to moving one step closer to this goal each day.