I'm a big believer in eating foods that are as fresh and natural as possible. I am convinced that many health problems in our country today can be traced to the rise of increasingly processed foods. The further we get from food in its natural, fresh state, the more difficulty the body has processing the foods. And incomplete, inadequate or improvident digestion of food, or that which is ingested in the name of food, is a root cause of many diseases that afflict our population.
It is for that reason that I often say, if you're reading the list of ingredients in the name of protecting your health, you're already in trouble. It doesn't matter what specific ingredients are in your food. The more ingredients it has, the higher the probability that your body will be unable to properly and usefully digest all or part of it. So far as energy and health are concerned, it's best to stick to simple, natural and fresh foods. A fresh peach in season. A simple salad of greens, tomatoes and sliced carrots. Eating those sorts of things is a solid base for sound health.
Another challenge is to ask your third grader to describe or to ask yourself to explain to your third grader in detail exactly how it is that the food you are eating managed to find its way from wherever it is that living things arise to your plate. Buddhists, before eating, pause to contemplate the 72 labors that went into their meal. We definitely could learn something from this practice.
The meditation on the 72 labors could lead me in many directions here, but what I want to emphasize is that the meditation becomes impossible with respect to any modern, packaged, processed food. Where does mono-sodium-glutamate come from anyway? And, perhaps more importantly, what happens to it after it enters our bodies? Where do sugar, or red food dye, or any of the unpronounceable preservatives come from? How are they made? Of what are they made? How does the body process these?
Rather than eating ingredients in combinations, I try to stick to simple foods. I eat fresh fruit. I enjoy vegetables that were picked today. On the rare occasions that I eat meat, I look for simple, unseasoned cuts that are harvested from a state of natural abundance.
In the end, this is what motivates me to grow my own food. I want to know how my food arises from seed, to seedling, to young plant, to maturity with fruit. Even if I can't grow any significant proportion of my food, growing at least some of it keeps allows me to watch the detailed and time-consuming process by which food arrives on my plate. It also teaches me the difference between good food and food that isn't so good. Growing my food makes me a better food consumer and a consumer of simpler, more basic foods.