The catch cry of 2009/10 is climate change, carbon emissions, pollution of the atmosphere and how we must save the economy above all else. Understandably from a political standpoint the government will strive to save the economy at all costs otherwise anarchy will break out and politicians would lose their seats if not their lives. It does not make sense however, that we all be busy with a job and paying our bills if the air we breathe does not support life to the point where we start dying like flies as in the Mortein ad. Seriously, we are plunging headlong in this direction.
About a century ago the carbon dioxide content of the air we breathed was 200 ppm, in 2010 it was 388 ppm, 2012 it was 390, 2013 it reached 400 and rising. If our scientists estimate correctly, when it reaches 500 ppm we are finished. Many years ago in Europe an experiment was conducted with a chicken to illustrate an organism’s ability to adapt over time. The chicken was put in a fully sealed glass enclosure with food and water. At the end of a week the chicken died because its air had become too polluted. This could be demonstrated repeatedly. They also demonstrated that after three days if the enclosed chicken was replaced with a new chicken, the new chicken died within an hour because it hadn’t had time to adapt to the enclosure’s level of polluted atmosphere. We may well conclude therefore that if we could resurrect your great-grandfather from his grave into perfect health, today he too would die within the hour. The point is, are we not on a par with the three-day chicken and more than halfway towards being unable to exist in our polluted atmosphere?
A quick illustration of the effects of momentum seems to be appropriate at this point. If we go out on the water in a dinghy we will find that we can turn left or right quite readily and rapidly. If we go out on a boat that weighs a tonne we will find that changing of direction is markedly diminished in its rapidity. At the far end of the scale the Titanic was unable to turn away from the iceberg even though it was first spotted quite some distance away. Large entities carry a huge momentum that cannot be diverted or reversed in a short space of time and looking at mankind and its current habits as one enormous entity, we can conclude that it carries with it an unimaginable amount of momentum. In other words if miraculously beyond all expectations all world governments simultaneously forced their populations ‘do the right thing’ tomorrow, we could expect CO2 levels in the atmosphere to continue to rise for several more years. So if we wake up one morning and the CO2 reading is 450 ppm then it will be too late, we are going to hit the iceberg. It may already be too late, who knows?
The statement that flows glibly from everybody’s lips “Well there’s not much I can do about it, it’s up to the government” is 100% totally false. The government can not do anything about it because it is focused on the economy and everything else is in distant second place. The first part of the statement is just as false because acting as individuals counts for everything that can be done about it. One meaningful solution is summed up in three simple words don’t cook anything. The mass of humanity as a single entity cannot change direction quickly but humanity can be seen as billions of single units and they, unlike the Titanic, can change direction instantly.
To help with the digestion of the don’t cook anything theory, here are a few facts that you won’t find in any cookbook. Nor will you find them in any government policy as it would totally destroy the economy as we know it. It is in fact the lesser of two evils, at least this way we will have air to breathe and thus retain the ability to build a new eco sustainable economy. Continue as we are means eventually no air, no economy and no life.
The Ramifications of Cooking
Doesn't it strike anyone as really strange that no other creature cooks its food? How do they manage to survive without cooking their food, we obviously can't -- the reality is we most certainly can. It is quite obvious that we are either very intelligent or very stupid. The collective feeling of course is that we're more intelligent other life forms and cooking our food is one confirmation of this. What a fallacy! Man as a species falls foul of 1000 times more diseases than any other species on the planet. Our pets when fed our our food and food we ‘process’ especially for them, http://www.nexusmagazine.com/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_view&gid=12&Itemid=71 suddenly get many of the diseases that we do, diseases that their wild cousins never ever get. After reading the article in the above link, is the penny dropping for anyone out there? If you can’t get to the link, the gist of it is that if our pets don’t get our diseases till they eat our food, then obviously if we stopped cooking and modern day processing our own food, we wouldn’t get them either.
Let's cut to the chase, what is cooking all about, what was its origin, why did we start doing it? It all boils down, pun intended, to the fact that cooking is about rendering the unpalatable palatable, nothing else. The point to be made here is surely, if the food was unpalatable to begin with why do we persist with trying to eat it? The great tragedy these days is that because cooking is universally widespread, it gives food producers license to produce inferior produce safe in the knowledge that who ever does the cooking will be responsible for the ‘end product’. We have gone so far as to turn it into an art form with our master chefs, our iron chefs and all manner of exotic chefs but the bottom line is they are all rendering the unpalatable palatable. It is a catch 22 situation, the quality of today’s commercial produce is so poor, and getting worse, that something drastic has to be done to it to make it edible.
This brings us to a possible reason that cooking came into existence in the first place. In the Earth's history there have been numerous ice ages and during an ice age fresh fruit and vegetables are a little hard to come by. Any and every species trying to survive will do whatever they can to survive on whatever food is available. The food of any and every species of course translates into ‘something alive’ (except for man the cooker) whether it be flora or fauna. If the flora becomes scarce then the fauna gets to be on the menu.
Every toothed species on the planet has developed teeth best suited to what it is meant to eat, that much is plainly obvious. In spite of what you see on TV man is not a carnivore, for instance observe that the teeth structure of the two true carnivores, cats and dogs are remarkably similar - because their natural food is other animals.
Teeth of the omnivores, bears, pigs and even baboons are also similar within that group but those of humans, whether cavemen or current, are totally different from both groups. Imagine being handed a fresh, warm off the just killed steer, dripping with blood fillet steak and see how revolting is the prospect of putting it in your mouth. Offering it to the family pooch on the other hand generates so much excitement he will almost take your hand off.
The digestion of flesh in any intestinal tract releases copious quantities of uric acid, true carnivores cope with this by excreting an enzyme called uricase which breaks down and oxidises this acid. Humans don't have this enzyme so we are stuck with trying to eliminate uric acid as is, much of it exits via our bladder and skin, the rest is stored within the body, commonly in the joints which gives rise to arthritis. Have you ever seen an elderly, life long meat eater who DIDN'T have arthritis?
We are very careful to put the right fuel in our vehicles but are blatantly cavalier about the fuel that goes into our mouths.
We are taught from an early age that the ‘eye’ teeth that we have are the evolutionarily diminishing remnants of canine teeth that our ancestors once had. Look at the Homo Erectus skull, not the slightest sign of eye teeth there nor is there on a Neanderthal skull. Recent excavations in Britain found numerous remnants of people who died from the Black Plague in the year 1345, no eye teeth there either. Consider then, because we have been meat eaters for thousands of years and especially since our growing affluence of the past few centuries allows us to eat more of it, might not evolution currently be causing us to grow canine teeth? Let's not be coy about this, as a species we are growing fangs, look at enough peoples teeth structure and occasionally you will see the beginnings of lower jaw fangs emerging as well. Imagine in 300 years or so your descendants will look like people in your worst science fiction nightmare. Adapting to circumstances, that’s what evolution is about.
Back to the ice age, if man was going to light a fire to cook a side of woolly mammoth he might as well chuck a few veggies on the barbecue so to speak. So cooking was born, sounds like a good theory anyway, I'm sure there are many others.
Flowing on from that the question arises, so what's wrong with cooking anyway? That innocent little question really gives a shake to the sauce bottle. First we have to understand what food contains and what it supplies us with. Before that it has to be noted that the universe is comprised of atoms 4%, dark matter 21% and energy 75%. That being so it is reasonable to assume that we are comprised of the same three items in the same percentages and our food also should fit the formula.
5 in 1 Bargain. Energy Removal. Nutrient Reduction. Disruption of the Digestive Process. Creating Mutated Molecules. Increasing the toxic burden.
To cover all points of food and the energy it contains or carries with it, would take a small book so a few disjointed statements will have to suffice. The food of any and every species (except man the cooker) translates into ‘something alive’ whether it be flora or fauna. In the words of the Raw Foodists http://www.thebestofrawfood.com/demi-moores-raw-food-diet.html, cooked food is dead food meaning that most of the energy has been driven out of it. The next worst food is fruit and veggies that have been kept in a cold room for the past 6 months, their energy has severely dissipated in that time. The best we can reasonably expect is that the produce was harvested not more than three days ago but the ultimate of course is to pick fruit ripe from the tree and eat it on the spot. Anyone who has done this will be nodding in agreement but for the vast majority who haven’t, they will be thinking “Ho Hum”.
Now to the biggest hurdle of all, obtaining food that has the maximum amount of energy. Apart from the crucial factor of picking ripe from the plant, this ultimately involves the soil they were grown in which should comprise a full complement of minerals in their correct ratios and a thriving microbial ecosystem. The plant should not struggle to find the minerals it needs at the time that it needs them, then if harvested when fully ripe, it will provide us with food containing not only the right balance of minerals but also the maximum amount of energy.
How can we tell when this is happening? We have tastebuds and this is their purpose in life. They will tell us when something is really good for us, it will taste magnificent. If it tastes like cardboard or is otherwise horrible, it won't be good for us, spit it out as it should not be eaten. This is how it is supposed to work, it is a magnificent system but like most of natures perfect patterns we have stuffed it up monumentally. Thanks to cooking, we can take something which is virtually tasteless or even tastes nasty, cook it, add spices, sugar and/or that great corrupter of tastebuds, salt. No matter how you dress it up, the fact remains that you will be dishing out poor quality, nutritionally deficient and energy lacking food - if you can still categorize it as food.
Tastebuds are very very sensitive nerve endings, kept away from sunlight, kept moist, kept at a constant temperature and really are capable of amazing powers of discernment. On reaching adulthood we flood our tastebuds with near boiling water in the form of coffee, tea or whatever every three hours and intersperse that with ice cold drinks. That's additional to at least two piping hot meals every day, it's almost miraculous that they still work at all. There's a certain interdependency here, cooked food needs blunted tastebuds so the owner will not notice that cooked food has hardly any taste other than from the salt and spices added to it. Putting hot food into the mouth ensures that the tastebuds stay well below par.
The difficulty of course is buying all your weekly provisions only to find when you get home that none of it tastes very good. It is obviously not practical to taste any food item before you buy it but we are endowed with a sense of smell. Smokers would be wasting their time but for the rest of us it is entirely feasible that we should smell the produce before we put it in our shopping basket. A carrot definitely should smell like a carrot otherwise it will be sharp and sour, a mandarin should smell like a mandarin, a pawpaw should smell like a pawpaw etc. If an item has no smell it surely won't taste good and be seriously nutritionally deficient. The spin off from this is that because you're not getting enough nutrition or energy from a normal sized meal then you get the urge to eat bigger, super sized (a new word is invented) meals and voilà, obesity is born.
Yes that's all well and good I hear you say but the sad part of the whole equation is that 95% of all the produce on offer has no smell, no taste and little energy. Why is this? The answer to this question has been covered on some of my other pages so I will only briefly jot down a few of the pertinent reasons
The soil the produce is grown in does not have the correct balance of minerals.
The plants were fertilized to give maximum production without any thought of nutritional content.
In respect of fruit in particular, the crop was harvested well before it was mature. There are two major reasons why growers tend to do this, the first is to remove the fruit from the tree before flying foxes and birds etc feed on the fruit -- think about that, if the fruit wasn’t good enough to entice a bird or fruit bat to eat it, why on earth do we think it's good enough for us? Secondly, the fruit wholesale agents actually insist on receiving fruit in the green condition so they can store it for months on end and just pop it in a ripening room to make it look good when they want to sell it.
Most growers irrigate for reliability and maximum returns. Produce grown under irrigation never tastes as good as non-irrigated produce by a factor of 50% and yes, science can actually measure this.
What can be done about it? It is all about public demand. If you went to the supermarket manager and said that his carrots didn't taste any good he would probably tell you to cook them longer and put more salt on them! If everyone who bought a carrot complained similarly that might make a difference but I can't see that happening. But it should happen, nothing will change until it does happen. Supermarkets really don’t like having things returned for a refund, if it happens often enough it will prompt them to not buy that growers produce. That grower will be forced to improve his produce or perish. Buying organic produce doesn't really help the above four concerns as none of these are part of the organic mandate, except that fertilizer usage is regulated.
Enough of that, back to the CO2 emissions and energy problem. Scientists from Germany's Institute for Ecological Economy Research (IOeW) conducted a study which found a conventional (non-organic) carnivorous diet over one year generated the production of the same amount of greenhouse gases as driving a mid-sized car over a distance of 4,758 km – more than the distance from Darwin to Sydney. Where food choices are no-meat, no-dairy and organic, footprints can be reduced to almost a 17th of that of a conventional meat-eater – to a car-trip covering a mere 281 km, or 6.8% of the original drive.
One of the more startling events that demonstrates how devastating cooking is on the environment comes out of Africa. It’s often on TV where the housewife spends the entire day walking and searching for firewood so that she can carry it back to her home and cook the evening meal. Of course every housewife in the village is doing that so a desert, which gets larger every year, is being created around the village. No trees equates to less rainfall so now they live in a famine area. They can’t just up stakes and move to a new area because the neighbouring village is already there and they are doing the same thing.
We live in a modern society where we don’t need to gather firewood, we merely flick a switch and cook to our heart’s content on a grand scale, often beyond the call of necessity. However we are destroying our ecology on a global scale even quicker than the African women are destroying their local one. We get our government to build us another power station when we run short of energy.
Let’s stretch our imagination to the limits, pretend that all of a sudden everyone will no longer cook anything or eat anything that anyone else has cooked. What is the net effect?
Your power bill will be only 40% of what it normally would be. The deep freeze will no longer be needed, the oven won’t get used nor the hotplate nor the frypan. Almost half the power stations in the country could be closed down.
Agriculture would be drastically reformed. With no demand for meat the vast tracts of grazing land could go back to growing trees whether for horticulture or timber, either way the reliable rainfall of yesteryear would return. Methane emissions from animals would suddenly become negligible. The same applies to the huge areas of arable land used for growing grain crops. Consider the huge amount of fuel that wouldn’t be needed every year to cultivate it. Plowing the land, especially when moist (when it plows easiest) is the great unmentioned carbon emitter, releasing back into the atmosphere nearly all the carbon the previous crop sequestered from the air while it grew. Farmers would be driven into horticulture by the demand for fruit and nuts, such trees would continually add carbon to the soil year after year, the populace would become increasingly healthy – it’s a win win going on endlessly win situation
With meat and grains out of the diet coupled with the demise of all fast foods outlets there would be a huge outbreak of good health to the extent that half the hospitals in the country could be closed down. Now that in itself will truly wreck the economy as we know it.
It is almost as if the government went out of
its way to encourage ill health. Just think about it, what
would happen if no one ever became ill? Massed unemployment in
the gigantic ‘health’ industry for starters, unemployment
in the building industry because no hospitals need building,
universities would have to close down their medical faculties and
drug companies would be a thing of the past. Let’s face
it, if the government was serious about preventing ill health surely
the first thing they would do is outlaw tobacco products. Look
at all the other items that get outlawed when there is the slightest
hint that injury might occur to a potential user but lung cancer and
heart disease – that’s somehow OK. What politician would
have the nerve to stand up and vote against a bill proposing to
outlaw tobacco. Look at the chain of events, government allows
tobacco, reaps millions in taxes, direct result is widespread and
expensive health care – who pays for that, not the government
out of its tobacco revenue - we do with the exorbitant medicare levy,
never mind that a big proportion of the population has to die a
horrible death just to keep the industry afloat. This is one mean
tiger we have by the tail.
Realistically speaking, even if everyone worldwide read this article, far too few will stop cooking so nothing will change. It is inevitable that we will continue to pollute our air until it reaches the point where we can’t exist in it any more. Nevertheless, simply ‘not cooking’ is probably the one crucial change we can all make, it is cost negative and is the only thing that would have a colossal positive impact against CO2 emissions etc. At least now you know what you can do about it, the welfare of Planet Earth really is in your hands. Even if you think you can’t be a total Raw Food family, if a mere 20% of your meals (only 4 per week!) were uncooked, that’s a significant difference and it’s just not that difficult. Make them your evening meals, give your digestion system a break overnight and you’ll sleep better.
Albert Einstein (who tended his own veggie garden) is famous for his theory of relativity but he should be equally recognized for this profound statement
“We cannot expect to solve
a problem with the same thinking that was used to create it.”
In similar vein, other profound quotes are
“Do what you always do and you'll get what you always get".
Health wise, it follows on too,
“eat what you always eat and you'll get what you always
The crux of all this is, if you are not happy with the way things are for you then you must alter what you are doing and/or eating. It's no good bitching and wishing that other people or things would change, what you do today determines your future.
In South East Qld there is an annual event, the Woodford Folk Festival, which is a great barometer on public feelings for all things green. Surprisingly, presentations by some of the high profile academics were not out of step with that written above.
Prof Ian Lowe said that he wondered how anyone could call themselves an environmentalist and still eat meat. He asserted that we could help the planet more by reducing, or better still giving up eating animal products than just about anything else we could do as individuals. Most people, even committed environmentalists, when they hear this factual assertion develop the mental equivalent of eye glazing.
A few statistics of interest: - going back 150 years, if we had gathered all of the planets mammalian flesh in a big pile, weighed it and then worked out the proportion of human and domesticated animals and pets, it would have amounted to 15%. If we were able to perform that exercise today, 2009, the figure would be about 90%!
to the CSRIO, over 90% of land degradation is caused by animal
industries. As a result our forests are cleared and topsoil is lost.
In addition to this, the amount of water used to produce a kilogram
of meat is 20
amount used to produce a kilogram of plant food. Most plant food
grown here and in the rest of the world is used to feed livestock.
According to the UN report we grow enough plant food (edible grain
soy etc.) to feed 50% more than is needed for every person in the
world. Most of it is used to grow animals which has driven up the
price of grain to where it is affordable only in affluent
Livestock now consume more edible protein than they provide. In fact livestock now consume 77,000,000 tonnes of protein contained in feed stuff that could potentially be used for human nutrition, whereas only 58,000,000 tonnes of protein are contained in the food products that animals supply. Some simple maths thus tells us that in terms of providing protein nutrition, growing livestock results in a large net loss, sufficient to feed the world !!!!!!!!
Also at Woodford, Tim Winton made the point that we don't fully appreciate the impact of an exponential curve. For example if you take a chessboard and put one grain of rice on the first square, two grains on the second square, four grains on the third square, eight grains etc., by the time you get to the last square they isn't enough rice in the world to place the required amount on it.
Another example is a football stadium, if someone stood in the centre with an eyedropper and dripped one drop of water on the ground, then two drops, then four drops, then eight, 16, 32, 64 etc. By the 43rd application the ground would be covered with water and by the 49th application the stadium would be filled to the roof.
So what? Well, CO2 emissions and climate change are also on an exponential curve and are currently positioned well along the steep end of the curve. Look forward to an interesting decade, it may be our last.
In a copy of the Sunshine Coast ECO News there was an interview with one Clive Hamilton a green academic really fighting the climate change cause. The interview went like this
Interviewer: How can we really persuade the sceptics/denialists into accepting the true dangers facing the planet?
Clive Hamilton: There is no point spending energy trying to make the skeptics see reason. They have made a decision to put themselves outside the bounds of reason and science. We have to wait for them to die off. Fortunately they are nearly all over 60.
Here are some more interesting items that illustrate we are not carnivores. The true carnivores are cats and dogs. Isn't it really strange that these are the two species that we allow to share our dwellings. Why is this? The following is mostly guesswork but is food for thought. All species are internally programmed to react in a certain way following the perception or suspicion of danger. Nearly all species will tend to run away from it however if the danger is unavoidably confronting then that species will bring to the fore any adversarial mechanisms that it possesses. Cattle will lower their head and present you with their horns, sheep will do the same even though most of them no longer have any, horses will rear up and flail with their hooves and maybe attempt to bite though not with the intent of making a meal of the situation. Cats and dogs will bare their teeth and hiss or snarl with the obvious message that they are preparing to bite. Carnivores and omnivores alike all bare their teeth when they are distressed or alarmed.
Humans on the other hand, display their teeth not from fear but when they are pleased or joyous! When confronting danger women scream (can't imagine what category this puts us in, parrots?) and men will raise their hands/fists, compress their lips and clench their teeth - not at all a la carnivore.
Back to dogs and cats sharing our abode – apart from the useful rodent/lizard eradication aspect, why them? It’s about fear factor. Carnivores know they can bite and injure at any time so they are less fearful of other species, this means they are easier to befriend. A recent TV show was about a guy who ‘hung around’ a pack of Hyenas and in a short space of time became accepted by the hyenas as part of their community. It would have taken ten times as long with antelope as they are eternally fearful of every unusual sight sound and smell.
So, caveman with club in hand just in case, associates with then adopts a dog/cat or two as pets, pets bring home their prey, leave the unwanted half on the floor of the cave, tidy housewife sweeps it into the campfire, what’s that smell – hey hubby, taste this and cooking was born (theory No 2). Not only that, meat contains lots of phosphorous which heats the body, stimulates the cardio respiratory system and caveman feels like he could leap tall buildings if there were any. A couple of hours and that wears off, now the hydrochloric acid the body generated to breakdown the animal product is niggling at his stomach lining and a new sensation, hunger, emerges onto the scene. “Woman, cook me more of that cow”, aggressiveness also emerges, every creature that eats meat exhibits aggressiveness in one way or another. More meat is the cry, bows arrows and spears are invented – shucks might as well take out the caveman next door so now it’s off to war – we have been stuck on the merry-go-round ever since.
Climatic temperature plays a part in this. Anyone living near the poles where temperatures plunge to around minus 40°, needs food with a phosphate to calcium ratio of around 16 to 1, their bodies need all that phosphate to enable them to keep warm and it doesn't manifest into aggression. Don’t see a lot of Eskimos going to war but their life expectancy isn’t that great, the phosphate gets them in the end. They would be better off eating more fish and less seals.
In the zero to 10° range a body needs food with a phosphate to calcium ratio of about 4 to 1. By the time the temperature reaches 35° to 40° the required ratio is 1 part phosphorous to 4 parts calcium and that will never be achievable by anyone eating meat, the ratio of beef for example is around 27 to 1 !!!
Just look at the diets of the current middle east conflict combatants – the US citizenry are huge meat eaters, note for that nation’s entire existence it is rare indeed that they have not been not at war with someone. The Arabic nations, again huge consumers of animals (cooked and raw), with all that aggression how can they ever be at peace? For centuries whenever they don’t have a common enemy they fight amongst themselves. Peace cannot break out until they change their diets and that will never happen, Since time immemorial, meat has been a major part of their “traditional diet” and no-one but no-one changes that. Recent TV showed a typical table of food to celebrate the Feast of Ramadan, not one item of fruit amongst it.
Typically living the good life one may have sat down and polished off a fillet steak, chips, eggs, a few veggies and a bread roll to mop up the gravy but what is happening inside? That's about the worst meal imaginable, complex carbohydrates with animal protein, a surefire way to initiate a few of the saccharine diseases, diabetes in particular closely followed by arthritis, arterial sclerosis, gout and rheumatism. The high levels of phosphate (which the body converts to sugars) not only overload the kidneys and the liver but stimulate the cardio respiratory system and increase the heart rate, probably by 50%, as the body tries to rid itself of the excess phosphate and other toxins associated with animal products. In the process one feels great because a byproduct of the increased blood flow is additional oxygen availability to all parts of the body. The body produces some acids that breakdown animal product but because we are not carnivores we don't have the enzyme uricase to oxidise uric acid nor all the acids required. Therefore some undigested proteins make it to our intestine where they promptly begin to putrefy, a process that releases still more toxins into the system the most obvious results of which are outbreaks of bad breath and body odour. Partaking repeatedly of such repast leads to cellular degradation (cancer) in the bowel all too frequently in this modern age.
To sum up, because it is traditional we feel the need to cook, we feel the need to eat meat and to make sure it happens we are prepared to waste the earth's energy resources and desecrate the surface of the planet to ensure a constant supply of sacrificial animals. Are we not barbaric and indeed the most stupid species on the planet? Some would say the only stupid species for no other destroys its environment to provide edible material that promotes hugely debilitating diseases for itself.
If you have managed to wade through all the above, maybe one in 10,000 of you will see that it all fits together very neatly, 30% will no doubt be intrigued but never-the-less overcome with the sense that it can’t possibly be right and 70% will dismiss it out of hand as rubbish. Well, there is endless evidence to back it up but our illustrious leaders and hand picked men of science don’t want any of that to be found. At the end of the day it really is your funeral, bring it on as early as you choose.