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Sherry STRONG, Food Philosopher, on ‘The Consumption Concept’

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APPLAUSE <SINGING> Good morning, good morning! <SINGING> It's great to stay up late! <SINGING> Good morning, good morning to you! I know it's not morning, I'm not on drugs. But who here, this morning, woke up singing, hey had so much energy before the alarm? That's also not on drugs... Energy is directly related to the food we eat, and when I speak to thousands of people each year, including children, that is the number one thing that they are losing. We have terrible statistics about our health and well-being, our lifestyle diseases. But energy is the precursor, it is your body's way of telling you that something's out of balance. And what I am finding more and more, it's very rare that people wake up with tons of energy and go to sleep with just the amount of energy that they have a perfect night's sleep. We've heard about the GFC, you're probably surprised I'm going to talk about the GFC, but I think the global fat crisis is very important. And if you think about the fact that right now, for the first time in human history, we have more obese people on the planet than starving people. It's definitely an epidemic. We think that pictures of starving children is compelling, but the things is, is that there are obese children who are also suffering from malnutrition because the food that they're eating is incredibly denatured. I wonder if mothers in Africa tell their children with plates of food in front of them not to worry about finishing their food because there are obese children in America. Now, before you think I 'm being too cavalier, I have actually been one of those people. Yes, I've been twice my size, not ten foot four, and I've had the worst of eating habits. Okay, I started out life with what I call a lethal recipe. You think it sounds extreme but it actually is contributing to people dying. My mother was one of these people that was convinced by doctors and nurses that her baby would be far better off if she had this new baby formula that was better than breast milk. And if you actually look at that recipe from the 60s, it is exactly what we are finding is in our food today. The lethal recipe is refined grains, refined sugars, refined oils, refined salts, so chemically cleaned salts, and chemicals. There was actually MSG in baby formula when I was a child. And what it does is it breeds in people an addiction to food that is not nourishing their bodies. The way we are processing foods today is extraordinary. This I bought when I was on my travels, it is crustless bread. Some people go to museums, I go to supermarkets, okay. And I thought, crustless bread, that's ridiculous! So I brought it home to Australia after traveling with it for twelve days it was still soft and in the bag. And I took it out of the bag, I put it on my island bench to dry it out, and four days later, not only was it still moist, but the whole house smelled. I couldn't stand it anymore so I stuck it back in the bag moist, and five years later it's never grown any mould. And some of you actually go to drive-thrus or take-away places, where they use the exact same recipe in the foods that you are eating. One fast food place has a meal that has over 600 words in the ingredient list, and that's not including the fact that the thing that makes that burger taste like it has been on a chargrill instead of a stainless steel grill actually has a flavor in it that can have up to over 400 different compounds in it. And you as the consumer have no right to know what's in it because the recipie is patent protected. And it doesn't include the fact that the lettuce that's put on that burger is sprayed with chemical pesticides, which are poisons. It is given synthetic fertilizers and once it's picked it's sprayed with a cocktail of 11 different chemicals. Hmm, hmm good? I don't think so! Okay. So what happens with these foods and if you look at things like the oils and the salts and the grains how they are processed is not too dissimilar to how we actually take poppy sap and turn it into heroin. Not me personally, but you know, the industry, okay. And so what you end up with is foods that are denatured. Their molecular structure is changed so that they are now addictive to the body, highly addictive. When you have them in their natural state they're self-regulating. You have something that is also not nourishing so you are eating a lot of this food and the body is not getting it's nutrients so it says feed me more. I'm not getting what I need. And you have toxicity that it actually creates this toxic enviroment in the body. So people don't feel so good. The consumption concept is based on observing what we're meant to be eating in nature. And if you actually look at the healthiest cultures on the planet they actually live according to what I call nature's principle. So if you actually look at these slides you see the families that have the lethal recipe also have the highest incidence of disease in their countries. Okay, this is Australia, that was America. This is Germany. You can see the direct correlation between the packaged food and the diseases with the exception of some countries, like this one you may recognize. A lot of their packaged foods are actually whole foods within packages. Okay, this one. But what we also notice is that even countries like Japan, once they start to adopt this lethal recipe into their lifestyle, if you look at the Okinawans who have this beautiful kind of history of being healthy and longevity, their children, the successive generations that are starting to adopt this lethal recipe are not getting well -- are adopting lifestyle diseases. Butan, they feed their family on five dollars and three cents so eating well does not have to be expensive. You obviously have to grow things yourself then. Tinga, the family in Ecuador, they remind me of the people saying we were happy that we were poor. These slides actually come from a beautiful book that simply puts you are what you eat. It's called "Hungry Planet--What the world eats" by Faith D'Alusio, Peter Menzel. And basically what they've illustrated is that when families actually put their food in front of them it tells a story about whether their children are going to grow up with lifestyle diseases or not. So even this woman who feeds her family in a refugee camp in Chad, in Africa, you can see on a very meager budget her children more than likely won't have diabetes. And they definitely won't become obese. And I find it extraordinary to think that there are children in refugee camps that could actually possible be healthier than children in private schools in western countries. So, the consumption concept is basically based on nature's principle. Nature tells us what to eat and the quantities to eat it in by how easily it is obtained in nature. That which is most abundant in nature we have the most of. If it's harder to get in nature we have less of it. And if you cannot get it in nature not only do we not need it, it is most likely harmful to the body. If you think about that, the western countries are eating most of what is hardest to obtain in nature. We would eat very differently if we had to gather the food ourselves. If you think about nutrients, what nourishes and promotes growth within the human body the nutrient that we can't survive seconds without is air! Isn't it amazing that it's everywhere! The nutrient we are second-most life-dependent on is water. Seventy percent of the planet is water. Ninety-two percent of your blood is water. Eighty percent of your brain is water. But you probably know people with more than 80% water on the brain, right? See, nature actually has this beautiful kind of concept but once we started industrialize things and we outsourced our food, we abdicated responsibility for actually sourcing our own food to other people and they made it about money. As soon as money gets into food it becomes compromised. Because great food takes time. It takes resources. It's not something that when you do it cheaply it improves. Care improves our food, the quality of our food. So think about it. If you had to have for dinner tonight chicken or egg, who would choose chicken? Who would chose egg? And out of the people choosing egg, how many are vegetarians? Now, if you had to source that meal tonight for yourself and go out and gather the egg in the wild, find the egg, or go out and catch the chicken, kill the chicken, pluck the chicken, disembowel the chicken, bleed the chicken, and prepare the chicken. How many people would have the egg? How many people would become vegetarian? We eat very differently when we have to source our own food. Think about it. Children, this is great for children, when I'm talking to kids in schools, I say, "Who here loves chocolate?", and by the way I believe that chocolate is Gods way of saying he loves us and wants us to be happy. Okay, so I'm not anti-chocolate. But it you had to make it in nature, could you imagine all the things you would have to do to make it? How long it would take you. Imagine gathering the cane to beat the juice out of it and then drying the juice to get your sugar. Then milking the cow, to getting the cream and the milk to make the butter. You know if you were making a chocolate cake it's even more. Growing the wheat... You would work off way more calories making that thing than you ever would consuming it. Nature has an inbuilt protective mechanism against obesity. But when we are no longer sourcing our food ourselves, we make very different decisions. So, food is incredibly powerful, it has the power to nourish, energize, and protect you, and it has the power to make you sick. And everyday we are faced with choices of how we can do that and people say I don't have enough time. It's too expensive. And yet we see from the healthiest cultures on the planet, time and money are resources that we can't use as excuses anymore. I think probably, nutritionists and dieticians tend to talk too much about nutrients that are physical in the food. And, one of the things that I have learned and have observed is that the most powerful nutrients that nourish and promote growth aren't necessarily in our food but in the social context in which we eat. Because how we eat is as powerful as what we're eating. I would much rather have a greasy hamburger with people who are positive, loving, and up-building, than have the most gourmet, nutritiously prepared meal with people who are angry, depressed, and negative. Saying that, we can have something incredibly beautiful when we combine something that tastes good, and the chef and hedonist in me is definitely into that, something that is grown well because when we take care of plants, we take care of the soil, we take care of the things that actually take care of us. And that is why the healthiest cultures on the planet have no idea what the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is, or how much protein they need, because they are eating in accordance to nature. And that varies depending on everywhere on the planet, so that we have this really sustainable model. And what I have observed most about the cultures that I respect the most, and I think, you know, tend to have the best quality of life, is that they share those meals with people that they connect with. And so the nourishment that I think is important that stops us from over-eating, and certainly when I was starting my day off with a half a liter of Sara-lee Ultra Chocolate ice cream, and wondering why the drier was shrinking my underwear and not my husbands at the time, I wasn't actually sitting there with anyone, deeply connecting with them. And I know that if I'd had those connections, those important connections, that I certainly would've been eating less and probably better quality food. So the last thing I'd like you to leave with, is the ideas your nutrients come in all forms, in the thoughts that you think and the feeling you feel. And if you can eat those meals that taste great and are good for your body with people who love you, who are genuinely interested in you and the world around you, who love food and care about you, people who are none judgmental, kind and forgiving. You know, people who tell jokes that don't hurt people. And that they are actually there, being present and connecting with you, and having great conversations. I can promise you there would be a lot less obese people on the planet. Obesity is not the big problem, it's the sickness and disease that comes from that. And we actually have the power to eradicate that. Simply, one meal at a time, think slow, seasonal, local, organic, and whole. Go to a farmers market, find out where your food comes from, and share it with someone you love. Arigato

Video Details

Duration: 12 minutes and 45 seconds
Country: Japan
Language: English
License: Dotsub - Standard License
Genre: None
Producer: Virgin Earth & Ansur Pictures
Director: Andrew Malana
Views: 378
Posted by: tedxtokyo on Jan 14, 2010

A talk given in Session 3 "How Can We Use Finite Resources To Propel Ourselves In The Future?" of TEDxTokyo 2009, held on May 22 at National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation.

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