I have spent the past month and a half in South East Asia. Every time I’m here I realise new aspects of life, I talk to people, I listen more than I talk, I take it in and ponder. I do my best not to judge or try to convince anyone that my perspective is more correct or not, because who am I to make such a distinction? It is all about what we have been exposed to, which glasses we view the world through, and how ready we are to face reality.
About a year ago, I made a conscious decision to eat real organic food in order to nourish my body and take as good care of it as I can while doing my part in supporting Mother Earth. I had been reading a lot about additives, artificial aroma substances and factory made foods. I was (and still am) puzzled by the fact that people spray poison on crops and eat them afterwards wondering how they got sick. I myself was not aware about what I was eating. I didn’t realise that the name of a product didn’t reflect the main ingredient, but that most products are based on water, starch and artificial aroma.
Watch this video of the Swedish author Mats-Eric Nielsson who wrote the book The Secret Chef about how the food industry is creating food-like products for us to eat.
I am very grateful that i found out and that I can now be a conscious consumer and choose real food. I always look at the label on the back of products – if there are ingredients in the product that I don’t know what is, I don’t buy it. I simply leave it. If the vegetable or fruit I want does not come organic, I don’t buy it. I find something else to eat. It is a choice. I choose to be aware when I roam the super market. I used to to grab things and never read the ingredients. Never again…
The majority of people I know and have met in South East Asia eat more or less anything. It is very common to use factory made sauces, sweeteners, stock and tons of white refined sugar. In some countries it is even impossible to find a natural yoghurt without added sugar. My friend told me that when Nestlé made its entrance in the market (Malaysia), they made sure to add sugar to all their products – even milk (or, particularly milk). They were the only or biggest player in the market and they wanted to make people addicted to their products. At that time it was impossible to get unsweetened milk. Can you imagine that?
Even with the added sugar, the milk is promoted as a great source of nutrition and the banners promise that children’s brains will develop faster and they will become smarter by drinking it. They just forget to tell the parents that their kids will be overweight and addicted to sugar for life. But who cares, right? As long as there is profit and people don’t die immediately after eating it, there should be no way to link it all together. In my view it is a matter of taking advantage of people. They use people’s innocence and ignorance to drive consumption and take absolutely no responsibility at all.
So when people don’t think twice about the sweetened milk, why would they even consider that their bread is full of chemicals and air? Why would they worry about whether crops have been sprayed with pesticides and lived solely off fertilizers? Fortunately, critical consumers are blossoming everywhere and it will hopefully drive demand and empower small local farmers to keep producing organic crops. But there’s still a lot to be done. And a lot of it is in the mindset.
All that plastic
When you buy a smoothie in Vietnam it comes in a plastic cup with a plastic lid and wrapped in a plastic bag to hang on your bike. When you go to the market, you rarely see anyone carrying reusable bags to carry their crops, everything comes in separate plastic bags and if you’re lucky they even give you a big one to hold on to all the small ones. You can imagine how much plastic you bring home in one day, huh?
Even organic vegetables are wrapped in a plastic tray and covered with plastic foil. Same story in Denmark even. Why is that? To make you buy more lemons than you actually need? Ridiculous.
Consumerism has become so easy. Just use it and throw it out. No need to clean your table cloth or do dishes if the glasses are disposable, plates too, takeaway boxes, chopsticks and even the table cloth itself can be folded up and it all can go straight to the bin. So easy. But where does all this plastic come from, and where does it go afterwards? Are you sure you want to eat your dinner that was wrapped in petrol? Im not too sure myself..
Is organic a religion?
My teacher once told a story before the yoga class started. He was in New York with some friends. They were at the super market and naturally chose organic products and put them in their basket. When they were in line at the counter another customer looked at their basket and asked, ‘Do you really believe in ‘organic’?’. For some people (me for instance) that question is hilarious. How can you not believe in naturally grown vegetables, well treated animals and no pesticides?
I have met this skepticism several times in South East Asia and my mindset has been challenged in many ways. I have had to compromise quite a bit and close my eyes to what I was actually putting into my body. Talking to my friends and their families and friends, it naturally becomes a conversation topic because everything I bring home from the super market is labeled ORGANIC. In most cases (fortunately not all) they ask me why. Why would I pay three times the price for a carrot? Why would I spend so much on it? Some people even say that nobody died from eating conventional crops. Are you kidding me?
It seems that there is consensus about the fact that people who have cancer should eat organic vegetables, because they are good for the immune system and help beat the cancer cells. People generally agree that organic food is better than conventional food, but in my experience they would rather wait until conventional food gives them cancer than change their priorities and stay healthy in this moment. Lobbyists don’t make it any easier to get the message through either. They come up with scary stories about packaging companies spraying the organic crops before packing them. Some stories might be true, but there must be a bit of trust in the certified organic products, since they feed them to cancer patients ….. right?
Do you believe in organic?
Personally, I believe that real organic food is the only way to a sustainable planet and sustainable health. There’s isn’t really an option for me to go back to eating conventionally grown vegetables and additives. Of course if there isn’t a choice of organic, I will have to eat something. So for me it isn’t religious or strict, really. It is just a continuos conscious choice that I make every time I eat and every time I shop for food. For me it is simply to raise my awareness.
If you still need to hear a bit more, this is one of the most interesting and alarming documentaries I have ever seen. Make sure to watch it. I have seen it on netflix. I don’t know if it is on any other platforms. GMO OMG is a fathers hunt to find out the truth about GMO’s for his children..