Saturday, January 23, 2016

Moral Arguments

In A Balanced Buddy, I talked about playing, "the game before the game", planning ahead for the day after and referencing one of my favorite television commercials (with a running time of five minutes, what can I say, I like expensive things). And, indeed, this is a final "theoretical" post before a lighter one before I personally sign-off for the month of February in order to let my more medically based parents take over for American Heart Month. So, to some extent, this is the post, before the post, before the posts.

I've grown a bit tired of writing "heavy" and abstract posts dealing with humans' relationship towards food, our relationships with the food-industry and our relationships with ourselves. Indeed, these are important topics but the month of January is dreary enough and I'm sure I've grown as harried of writing such pieces as you are of reading them. So I promise to move onto "greener pastures" soon (pun intended) but, before, I do, there's one more topic I'd like to look at.

At the end of Cuchillos y Cucharas, I promised to continue the post, subtly referencing the, "health-related, aesthetic and moral consequences" of malnourished eating. Today, I'd like to discuss the moral argument for what I see is a nutritious and balanced diet... because if we are to recognize corporations as people, we can at least recognize plants as living.

Five minutes, three seconds, around eight celebrities and one helluva commercial.

This summer, I heard of an odd phenomenon of people trying to get their nutrition from the sun. Indeed, the person who informed me of the practice seemed like the type who would try it out mostly because, as I'm assuming of others who've tried the "diet", she was the type to not stick with something for long. But the first thing that struck me as odd about "sun-eating" was the fact that we can consume the sun's energy quite easily... through plants.

It's well known (through Wikipedia) that, via photosynthesis, plants are able to, "convert the sun's energy in chemical energy," (yeah, I had to look it up. Like you're so fucking smart). Ironically, such energy is stored as sugar but when we eat plants, we are, indirectly, eating the energy from the sun. In Forks Over Knives, Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn and Colin T. Campbell both advocate for a diet more heavily based on plants than animal products citing, among other things, the large nutritional value of plants as well as the diseases that may arise when we look to animal products for the same benefits. They also state in the film that when we eat plants such fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes, our bodies signal to our brains that we're full at a faster rate than when we eat animal products or oils. An interesting phenomenon, I thought.

Within this past summer, I also attended a class at Flower Power on what was essentially "potion making" or, more aptly, the creation of tinctures, vinegars and infusions (what can I say, it was a trippy summer). I took the class mostly because, at the time, I was looking to get some nutrition through the infusion of plants in water (if you read this blog, you're likely aware of my oddly fluctuating appetite). Before the class began, the instructor noted how, when she struggled in adolescence (as we all do) she would often walk in the woods and feel a sense of calm amongst nature. Nature, however, is not really my jam... to some extent, I find it difficult to see why anyone would want to deal with dog hair, cat hair or going to a god-forsaken Petco for the sake of a living thing. But as I make an effort to eat a more plant-based diet (as I stated in Cuchillos y Cucharas, I'm a big fan of veggies - in blue cheese) I can feel a greater connection to the seasons, the flavors and the gifts that plants can give us.

As we've been referencing past summers throughout the post, I can remember back to a summer in which my grandmother and I were discussing vegetarianism. Perhaps one of my brothers had just become a vegetarian or perhaps it was the fact that my father (her son) had been a vegetarian for years but I remember she began to speak a lil' ill of the diet. As, I'm sure, being a child of the depression and New York tenement housing left a pretty large question mark in the space which once housed the meat group in my family members' diets (Jonathan Safran Foer also talks about this in Eating Animals). I, dabbling in vegetarianism myself, tried to defend the eating habit as compassionate, even though, I really wasn't coming at it from a compassionate perspective. "But plants are living too," she said... at which point I remember feeling that sense I'm assuming is common to most hipsters, "ummmm, I haven't quite figured that out yet, but I know I'm (at least morally) right." But she was right. As I found out later, the Dali Lama is not even a vegetarian, nor was the Buddah. People, particularly in the historical sense or those who live in high altitudes (read: Tibet) generally rely on meat to survive. It's only a more recent phenomenon that we've seen a shift to cutting entire food groups from our diet be it carbs in Atkins or animal products through veganism (although, I'm not sure if these should be placed in the same categories for reasons I will discuss later). But whether we eat plants or plants and animals, the amount we eat still remains key to our diets, just as my grandmothers comment still remains fact, that plants are living things too.

Cue the corny music.

Within the animal kingdom, we are bent on survival. We are built and build others to ensure the continuation of our respective species. So, when I heard, through Forks Over Knives that our bodies signal we're full at a relatively fast rate when plants are consumed, I wondered (this is purely conjecture) if this was some form of survivalism for plants. 

Plants do house a lot of nutrients. As stated in Cuchillos y Cucharas, a single serving of kale holds a whole bunch of potassium among other things. So it would make sense that our bodies become satiated quicker when we eat foods dense in nutrients. As stated in Wait Time, the body knows what it needs. But plants, while living, are immovable in their own right. They cannot run for safety, and while some may emit a funky smell to ward off captors, they are pretty much at the mercy of the realm Animalia. So, I'm wondering if their concentration of nutrients essentially acts as a buffer against over-consumption, thus, giving at least part of the plant a chance to survive. While I'm sure the plants are "happy to give" after all, Shel Silverstein told us so in The Giving Tree, it is up to us, the homo sapiens, to ensure that we don't over consume something that has a life of its own. It's good to listen to our bodies and to the messages sent to them by plants.

No comments:

Post a Comment