It's a cliche but it's true - the human body is an amazing feat of engineering. It's made up of complicated systems, from vision to vascular, and it works remarkably effectively. It can absorb years (even decades) of abuse, and it has the ability to heal itself. But like any machine (think of your car), once one system starts to fail, other parts begin to fail too.
What to eat
Eating at home
- Shop the outside aisles. This is where most of the whole foods are - produce, meat, dairy - and where the majority of your food should come. The inside aisles are where the packaged, processed goods are. Stay away from the chips, boxed meals and processed crap.
- Look at the food label. Do not buy things with ingredients you can't pronounce and hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. Put back anything that has sugar as one of the first three ingredients. Remember, fewer ingredients are better.
- Talk to the person at the counter. They will know what the freshest seafoods and meats are.
- Buy whole grains. Brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat bread. I love pasta, and after searching far and wide for a whole grain pasta, the only one I that I liked (even more than regular) was Whole Foods whole wheat spaghetti.
- If it's fried, put it down. Stay away from fried foods, whether it's chips, chicken, or fries.
Eating at restaurants
- It takes more labor to grow them. Growers can't use pesticides on the produce, and they can't use hormones or antibiotics on the animals. That means they have to find alternatives which aren't as efficient as chemicals (which is why farmers used chemicals to begin with - they could produce more with less resources).
- It takes longer to grow the food. Without using supplemental growth hormones, it takes ~20-24 months to grow beef cattle instead of ~16 months. That means the organic cow is taking up more rent, food and care than the unorganic cow. Same for veggies and other animals.
- They don't last as long. They aren't pumped full with preservatives so they have a shorter shelf life.
- It's usually smaller scale. Many organic farmers are smaller operations than the large corporate farms, and they just don't have as much volume. It costs more to manufacture on a smaller scale.