December 14, 2016

I have visited/worked in a total of 22 countries and taught students from around the world. From all this exposure to other cultures, I realized something important.
When it comes to food, the US is an outlier.
What we think of as normal, is not. Our food system is not normal.
We are an anomaly compared to many countries in the world.
I saw firsthand that people in other countries generally don’t treat food as we do in the U.S.
In Central America, we bought all our food at the outdoor markets.
So we learned what was in season. We knew what was local.
When I was at home in the US, we just bought salsa in a jar. In Guatemala, we made it fresh daily.
In Ghana, when my friends missed a meal, they didn’t reach for snacks to assuage their hunger. They just waited to eat the next meal or the next day. They didn’t mind being hungry for awhile. I learned that it’s okay to be hungry sometimes.
In South Korea, healthy food is a tradition and a top priority. Kids and everyone eat veggies with gusto. Food is beautiful and eating is fun!

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And once back in the US, a friend from Britain shocked me. We were at a business lunch, he saw that I ordered a fruit drink. A sugary imitation fruit drink. He took one look at the ingredient list, then said, “You Americans eat crap! You will eat anything!” Then I looked at the list of unrecognizable ingredients and I had to agree he was right.
Gradually, I had to accept that we Americans have been basically brainwashed. We have become disconnected from the incredible brilliance and bounty of simple food directly from nature. With our meals often coming from boxes, cans and drive-thru’s, we’re missing out  on the incredible joy of real food eaten fresh.
In Korea, I looked forward to every fifth day when grannies sell produce from their gardens at open air markets.
And shopping and eating this way, I felt energized. I felt my body getting younger and more vibrant, every year even in my 50’s.
I felt connected to everything and spiritually open. “One Love” was something I felt coursing through me, by simply filling my plate and my days with real food, eaten mindfully.
With 2/3 of American adults now overweight or obese, it’s time to wake up and choose differently. Our food system is not normal.
The saddest part is that the Standard American Diet is showing signs of being a pandemic, spreading around the world. And those that eat it are directly increasing their risk of obesity and disease.
What can be done? Until the adults in the U.S. find a way back to eating for health, this trend will continue.
Only by linking eating to spirituality, nature, inner wisdom and community activism, will we be able to rebuild a sane food system that supports health, rather than sabotaging it.

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About the Author joangregerson

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