I was out for a mid-day run down a peaceful country road when I happened by a field of grazing cows.
It was a beautiful Colorado day, with a unique combination of colorful fall foliage, a fresh coat of snow, and brilliant, mile-high sunshine.
As I ran by this field of cows, grazing silently on the snow-covered grass, I was struck by the simplicity of the scene.
In their natural state and environment, animals are very intuitive. They know where to find food, which grass is good, how much they need, and when they’ve had enough.
At one time, humans were also this way. Certainly back in hunter-gatherer days, but in the not-so-distant past as well.
Sometimes we forget that modern supermarkets and most of the products they contain are a modern construct. Our grandparents didn’t grow up with Twinkies, Fruit Roll-Ups, Minute Rice, Pop Tarts, American Cheese, Lunchables, or Go-Gurt.
We have managed to sneak unnatural, unpronounceable, and genetically modified ingredients into nearly every product on store shelves.
Thanks to heavy subsidies and genetic modification, we are growing unthinkable amounts of corn, which we feed to animals that were never meant to consume it, and turn into products that shouldn’t even be called food for our own consumption.
Factory-farmed animals are restless, aggressive, more likely to get sick, fatter, and have shorter lifespans than those raised on natural diets, and in species-appropriate environments.
And so it is with humans. Modern humans are more restless, depressed, and aggressive than ever before; ridden with chronic disease; plagued by overweight and obesity; and has an ever-shortening lifespan induced by unhealthy lifestyles.
So what do we do about these problems? We pump factory-farmed animals full of hormones and antibiotics to ward off sickness; we clip off their tails and snap off their beaks so they don’t peck each other to death.
And so it is with humans. We pump our children full of Ritalin, and ourselves full of Prozac. Not to mention cholesterol and blood pressure-lowering drugs, with antibiotics all around!
What to Do
I don’t want to be a factory farmed human. I don’t think any of us do. But sometimes we feel trapped and powerless to change our systems and ways of life.
It’s difficult to know what “natural” even is anymore. Were humans meant to eat cooked foods? What about grains? Should we all go raw or Paleo or gluten-free?
The lure of habit and convenience is strong. We are strangely drawn to some of these unnatural foods, and our time is spoken for by a multitude of activities. The drive-thru looks attractive when you’re driving home from work – tired, hungry, and conditioned to expect instant gratification. Why cook steel cut oats when you can nuke a packet? Why cook whole grain brown rice when you’ve got Minute Rice in the cupboard? Well, obviously for a lot of reasons, but we all get sucked in from time to time.
Ultimately, we each have to find a diet and a lifestyle that makes us feel healthy, happy, and comfortable with our choices.
And although we may sometimes feel detached from our intuition, lacking an awareness of our deepest needs, our bodies do have a way of telling us when we’ve made good decisions and bad ones.
Have you ever really felt good after eating a bag of candy corn, a fast food meal, or a bowl of sugary cereal? Have you ever regretted making yourself a hearty and healthy meal?
Listening to your body and being in tune with how it feels is the ultimate guide for making healthy and balanced decisions. If more of us honed in on that awareness, factory farmed humans wouldn’t stand a chance. There would be no market for food coloring, high fructose corn syrup, or factory farmed beef.
And perhaps with the demise of factory farmed humans, things like Ritalin, Prozac, blood pressure-lowering drugs, obesity, and preventable chronic diseases would also be things of the past.
Image Credit: Vicky TGAW/Flickr