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Some of the things I said in the article are no longer true of me, or of what I currently believe. Also, just possibly, you may find yourself smiling or even laughing out loud at one part or another.
The Health Food Eating Disorder Because I am a physician who practices alternative medicine, patients who come to me often begin the conversation by asking whether they can be cured through diet. I feel obligated to nod wisely.
I agree that conventional medicine has traditionally paid too little attention to the effects of diet. However, I am no longer the true believer in nutritional medicine I used to be.
My attitude has grown cautious where once it was enthusiastic and even evangelical. I have lost two beliefs that once encouraged me, and that are still widely accepted by others who promote dietary methods of healing.
One of these is an assumption that there exists a comprehensive and consistent theory of healing diseases through nutrition. The other is a faith that dietary therapy is a uniformly wholesome, side effect free intervention.
My attitude has not always been so lukewarm. Twenty years ago I was a wholehearted, impassioned advocate of healing through food. My optimism was unbounded as I set forth to cure myself and everyone else.
This was long before I became an alternative physician. In those daysI was a cook and organic farmer at a large commune in upstate New York.
This was the late s. All communes attract idealists. Ours attracted food idealists. As a staff cook I was required to prepare several separate meals at once to satisfy the insistent and conflicting demands of the members. The main entree was always vegetarian. However, a small but vocal group insisted on an optional serving of meat.
Since many vegetarians would not eat from pots and pans contaminated by fleshly vibrations, this meat had to be cooked in a separate kitchen. The cooks also had to satisfy the Lacto-ovo-vegetarians, or Vegans, who eschewed all milk and egg products.
The rights of the non-garlic non-onion Hindu-influenced crowd could not be neglected either. They believed onion-family foods provoked sexual desire. For the raw foodists and young children we always laid out trays of sliced raw vegetables.
However, a visitor once tried to convince me that chopping a vegetable would destroy its etheric field. I chased him out of the kitchen with a huge Chinese cleaver. Some also insisted on eating fruits and vegetables only when they were in season, while other communalists intemperately demanded oranges in January.
Besides these opinions on which food to serve, there were as many opinions on the manner in which it should be prepared. Most everyone agreed that nothing could be boiled in aluminum, except the gourmet cooks, who insisted that only aluminum would spread the heat satisfactorily.
By consensus, we always steamed vegetables in the minimum amount of water to avoid throwing away precious vitamins. Certain enthusiasts would even hover around the kitchen and volunteer to drink the darkish liquids left behind.
About washing vegetables, however, controversy swirled. Some commune members firmly believed that vital substances clinging just under the skins must be preserved at all costs. Others felt that a host of evil pollutants adhered to the same surfaces that needed to be vigorously scrubbed away.
One visitor explained that the best policy was to dip all vegetables in bleach, and gave such a convincing argument for her belief that we would have adopted the principle at once were it not for a fortuitous bleach shortage.
I used to fantasize writing a universal cookbook for eating theorists.May (This essay was originally published in Hackers & Painters.) If you wanted to get rich, how would you do it?
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Thank you for your beautiful words!