Usually we think of liberty in political terms, like the size of government or government intrusion and manipulation. We link the ideas of freedom and liberty to government.
In similar fashion, we complain about shackles and lack of freedom in terms of regulations, licenses and compliance with government edicts. Again, it’s all about the individual versus the government.
Today I’d like to take a different path and talk about self-imposed shackles. I’m talking about enslavement we voluntarily take. Who would do that? you might ask.
The answer is most of us. This thought came to me the other day when I was thinking about the food most people eat.
Shackled to a System
Eating highly processed food, with unpronounceable items on the label, is self-imposed slavery to a system. Nutrient-deficient food does not give us the energy we need to fully express our independence. It doesn’t give us the “get up and go.” It doesn’t feed our brains in order for them to think and process information at full capacity.
Over time, this nutrient-deficient food wears on our health.
For example, male sperm counts in America are only 50% of what they were 50 years ago. If anyone were paying attention, they’d call this a catastrophe of epic proportions. Interestingly, the continent of Africa has seen zero drop in male sperm levels.
The freedom to procreate is certainly worth protecting, is it not? And yet that freedom is jeopardized by the standard American diet (appropriately abbreviated SAD).
Processed food depends on a chain of things that are far more intricate than a simple garden in the backyard.
Think about what it takes to get an Oreo cookie to your mouth.
It requires petroleum to power a tractor to spread petroleum-based fertilizer to grow herbicide- and pesticide-treated grain. All that petroleum creates dependency on the oil industry and global maritime function.
Harvesting the seed to grow the grain to make the flour requires yet more capital-intensive, single-use machinery, like combines and grain trucks, which of course need more fuel… and factories to build them… and drivers to drive them.
The grain storage bins must be maintained at the right moisture. Some of the grain goes into flour, and some goes into high fructose corn syrup. You can’t make high fructose corn syrup in your kitchen; it takes a whole industrial laboratory.
Then it all gets combined in a massive factory requiring more energy, people and capital-intensive infrastructure. Plastic wrap goes around it first, then a cardboard box, then a bigger box, then a tractor trailer, and then it goes to the supermarket or gas station where you buy the package.
Compare all of that with growing a tomato in your backyard garden. You prepare the soil with a spade, plant the seed, trellis the vine, pick the fruit… then eat it.
Tastes Like Freedom
While we’re on this theme, let’s compare the Impossible Burger with grass-finished beef.
The Impossible Burger or any of the other soybean-concocted pseudo foods are extremely processed. We’re back to the whole-grain cycle we had above, but this time it goes to a vat in a warehouse-sized laboratory to percolate and grow. Because soybeans cause constipation, fake meat contains laxatives (have you had your Maalox burger lately?), so you won’t have that problem when you eat the junk.
Large companies have spent millions developing these concoctions.
Now think about a grass-finished burger. It’s from a cow eating perennials in the field. No annuals necessary, which means no planting is necessary – no chemicals, no machinery, no energy. Just sunlight and soil and moisture, and you suddenly have a perfect diet for a cellulose-fermenting, four-legged forage pruner.
You don’t have to drive the cow from grass patch to grass patch. She moves herself, under her own motive power. She’s truly solar driven.
When it comes time to harvest, the farmer takes her to an abattoir. She’s processed and hung to chill for a few days. No need to add anything. Hang material and wait.
Then we take out the bones, run the solar-created tissue through a grinder, and out the other end comes ground beef.
Take a handful, mush it together, slap it on the grill – a nutrient-dense hamburger ready to go.
The processed food industry loves dependency on its concoctions. Few things make a processed food sales team smile more than when we exit our kitchens, become ignorant about food, and fail to participate in producing, processing, packaging and preserving our sustenance.
Such profound abdication from life’s most basic elements enslaves us to the machinery, agenda, chemicals and ultimately the remedial pharmaceuticals and surgery of enslavement food.
Too often we fail to hang practical outworking on our academic and perhaps esoteric discussions about freedom. We deal in the abstract, and we tend to blame someone else for whatever tyranny infects our lives.
But the truth is we voluntarily put on shackles and give up our freedoms when we embrace a fundamentally bankrupt food system.
We do it to ourselves.
The self-reliance and do-it-yourself movements are symptomatic of a yearning to take control of something in our lives.
Taking control of our food system via more hands-on participation and personal understanding empowers us to exercise self-direction even in a suffocating governmental climate.
One of the most freedom-centric decisions and activities we can enjoy is liberating our food from “the system” – food that doesn’t receive subsidies, food that’s authentic, food we’ve touched.
How can we promote freedom when we eat food that enslaves us? Throw off the shackles and eat simpler, closer to home and with dedicated conscience.
That’s a practical expression of freedom.