beautiful little girl and her mother cook soup together in the kitchen

Written by Jack Riess: Certified NASM personal trainer and lifelong scholar of Health and Longevity research.

The Detached Modern Diet

There’s no denying that we’ve disconnected from the true essence of our food. Our meals today are far removed from their plant and animal origins, and the traditions that gave them life. Highly processed foods, loaded with mysterious ingredients, dominate the American menu.

Unmasking the Hidden Dangers

Over recent years, the detrimental health impact of such a diet has been brought to light. Food, once our source of nourishment, is now replete with artificial substances, preservatives, ultra-processed constituents, and even elements borne from synthetic biology. As this reality dawned upon us, we began to associate common ingredients in junk food with ill-health.

Commodities or Culprits?

As the food revolution progressed, it became apparent that these ingredients were a product of chemical-laden industrial farming practices. Compounding this issue, these same elements are usually the primary genetically modified organisms (GMOs), amplifying their potential toxicity. Consequently, a popular stance emerged to wholly avoid commonly used ingredients like corn, soy, wheat, and even animal-based products.

Reviving Ancestral Agreements

I’d like to propose a different outlook. It’s not the plants and animals that are harmful; instead, it’s the loss of our ancient traditions and agreements that facilitated a harmonious relationship with these species. To comprehend this, we can look to a lesson imparted by Rowen White at the Indigenous Farming Conference in White Earth, MN.

The Corn Chronicle:

A Personal Journey Inspired by this teaching, I became a custodian of the Bear Island Flint Corn, a traditional crop cultivated by the Anishinaabe people in North Eastern, MN. I learned their traditional agricultural practices, focusing on regenerative techniques that created flourishing ecosystems. In return, the corn rewarded me with bountiful seeds and fertile soil. I also explored traditional corn preparation methods, specifically nixtamalization. The resulting tortillas and tamales were not just delicious but an awakening of my sacred bond with this plant.

Losing and Reclaiming Traditions

For years, I consumed corn without acknowledging its true essence. The experience of cultivating and preparing it in the traditional manner made me realize that corn is not just a commodity linked with GMOs, chemicals, and empty calories. Instead, we have manipulated it into such a form due to our collective forgetfulness of our sacred pact.

Restoring Vital Bonds with Our Food

This revelation encouraged me to reconsider my relationship with other foods and contemplate ways to restore these vital bonds. One inspiring example is Mexico’s recent prohibition on GMO corn cultivation and imports. As a result, the Organic Consumers Association, among others, is collaborating with the Mexican Government and Organic Farmers in the USA to supply Mexico with non-GMO corn.

A Call to Rekindle Sacred Relationships

Now, I invite you to rekindle your own sacred relationships with food. Even if you cannot grow them yourself, supporting local, organic, and regenerative farms and researching traditional preparation methods can help. Every staple food has a rich cultural history waiting to be discovered. If you’re interested in nixtamalization, take a look at this instructional video by The Sioux Chef, Sean Sherman of Owamni Restaurant. Let’s embark on this journey of rediscovering our forgotten food traditions together.

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