by Navdanya International
October 16, 2022
Real food is how our bodies are interconnected to the web of life on Earth. We are so deeply interconnected that our microbiome forms a continuous, reciprocal macro-organism with the microbiome of the soils. The real food we eat provides information to our bodies about the season, environment, and the health of the surrounding ecosystems so that our body can respond accordingly. We are so connected that the debilitation of health of one aspect of our food web, goes on to have a direct effect on our health. But since the advent of industrialization, we have been systematically displaced from the deep, inherent relationships we hold with our food.
The deep seeded extent of corporate power’s infiltration into our daily bread extends all the way from the overuse of toxic substances, shadowy backroom lobbying, and a shapeshifting appropriation of resistance through greenwashing tactics. All to keep us in the dark over the destructive consequences of agribusiness-as-usual. So much so that now less and less people remember where food comes from, and what a healthy, integrated agro-ecosystem looks and feels like.
Such is the disconnect that nutritionally empty, artificial, chemically laced junk, masquerading as food, has become the norm. We have been fooled into thinking food is an object, a necessary but fundamentally non-distinct input into the machine of the body. Corporations would have us believe that food is just ‘functional’, i.e. all nutrients, whether synthetic, from plants, or from animal foods are all created equal in terms of nutrition. But this is simply not so. There are fundamental differences and complexities in bioavailability, nutritional synergies, nutrient density and diversity that are present in real foods. It is impossible for lab-made imposters to mimic the bioavailability and nutrition synergies present in natural foods. Especially as the extent of such complexity is not yet fully understood. As the most advanced branches of science evolve, such as epigenetics, microbiome research, ecology and others, it’s clear there is an infinite amount of information we still don’t know and therefore cannot manipulate artificially.
There is also overwhelming evidence of how such synthetic simulacrums cause detrimental health effects on their own. Just as the Earth, her ecosystems, and her soils have been treated as dead, empty matter that can be manipulated with chemicals, so has the body, under this vision, suffered the same fate.
Small farmers and local food communities have deliberately been destroyed in favor of corporate power, and the health of people, the planet and food systems has been purposefully disregarded. Today this has become evident in the explosion of noncommunicable, metabolic diseases, along with mental illnesses, on one side, and the growing number of people affected by malnutrition and hunger on the other. All caused by the depletion of the human microbiome, lack of basic macro and micronutrients, and food being contaminated with carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals from toxic pesticide residues, heavy metals, artificial growth hormones, and antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria. These same diseases that are affecting humans are also affecting the Earth, in the forms of pollution, mass extinction, and ecological collapse causing climate change.
The call has been made that this system can no longer go on, and now we are finding agribusiness chanting along with what food movements have been saying for years. The corporate chimera has shifted its mask again, appearing to be an ally to the growing eco-conscious movements. Now the very ones who have perpetuated the Earth’s destruction and our amnesia, have shapeshifted once more to try and convince us they hold the solutions. But how can the same groups that have so heavily profited off the destruction of our health, small farmers, and the Earth, all of a sudden be so interested in changing the system they created? If in condemning the industrial atrocities of animal factory farming, for example, we are inadvertently making way for the same corporate actors to step in, are we really making any progress?
The imagination of corporate power can only conjure further iterations of itself- cold, anti-life, lab-made, synthetic and most importantly, profitable. Those that have caused mass-suffering (of peoples, ecosystems, animals and so on) are now saying no more animal suffering, no more nutrient deficiency, no more climate problems thanks to carbon trade offs, nature-based solutions, digital agriculture and lab-made foods. Technological innovation can solve all this by simply eliminating the problem. No more cattle to feed, no more chickens to house, no more dairy cows to pump because now a highly complex combination of never before seen ingredients can be put together with pesticide laden, industrially grown seeds to produce a sterilized, denatured facsimile of the real thing. Complex ecological breakdown is now simplified into catchy marketing slogans, reduced to simple solutions where corporate accountability is conveniently forgotten in favor of shameful individual responsibility.
The push for food without farmers, and farming without the Earth, represents the agenda of the next corporate takeover of food systems in the final elimination of real farming through digital agriculture, and elimination Real Food through lab-made synthetic foods. An agenda being pushed through corporate aligned, false climate-change policies to eliminate animal agriculture, vertically integrate supply chains and digitalization. The industrial, monocultural farm will now find its use in providing previously inedible, unpopular commodity crops as raw materials for lab-made foods. The parasite now sucks the last drops of its heavily infected host before it moves on to its new cell-cultured lab protein.
The already underway destruction of real food has already destroyed health, as profits cannot be made from a healthy planet, healthy people, or a well-functioning local food community. The fight now extends beyond just small farmer versus factory farming, its now real food versus man-made synthetic, fake foods; its nutrient-dense, regenerative foods grown with care, versus corporate digital dystopia.
So, are we going to look to those who regard land, food, and life as extractible, commodifiable, profitable objects to solve the problem which stems from the fundamental disconnection to the Earth and Life? Or do we look to the generational stewards, the indigenous people who speak for their lands, the independent scientist evolving the science of agroecology, and the careful small farmer? Who are the ones that can teach us how to care for the Earth?
The defense of real food is now more important than ever, as it also represents the defense of the small farmer, the defense of our relationship to the Earth, and to life itself.
Real food is nutrient dense, comes from living soil, living water, sunlight and the contribution of hundreds, if not thousands of interconnections with other living beings (including animals).
Real food comes from the care of a small farmer’s hands.
Real food works in tandem to the inherent interconnections of both plants and animals as essential elements of a healthy and balanced agroecosystem. It is made by caring for multidimensional health necessary to produce nutrient rich foods for generations to come.
Real food accepts, honors and humbly respects the cycles of life and death inherent in the Earth’s cycles.
Real food connects us all to the flow of life.
Real food gives us a chance to rejuvenate the earth, our food economies, food sovereignty and food cultures.
cover image credit: sarangib
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