71 Comments
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Great topic Mary! I've been gradually coming to the conclusion that most of us suffer from 'low grade food disorders'. I start from myself with that of course - never been underweight nor overweight, but can certainly under certain stress conditions be susceptible to bouts of 'food abuse' of varying intensities. When the food disorder is 'low grade', I think it goes unnoticed for decades. I also work pretty hard to stay fit and healthy and have tried many of the 'systems', including a several years of 'almost' vegarianism (quite a long time ago, and 'almost' cos I allowed myself a piece of fish or chicken every couple of weeks or so), and more recently the new fad for keto, which I still do cyclically, and find really beneficial. Then I do off-cycles, and then sometimes the off-cycles degenerate a bit!

Certainly agree that personal choices are rapidly becoming moral obligations for the rest of the world to follow suit. Part of the state of 'mass psychosis' that is still sweeping the world. Those who eat meat (like me - since time has taught me that I flourish much better that way - even though I have reservations about the killing part - and especially the inhuman farming methods part) are becoming 'bad people', like all the other growing list of things for which some seek to make everybody except themselves 'the bad people').

What is 'healthy' definitely varies from individual to individual. And I increasingly think that just one's relationship to food - how much we eat, when, with what attitude, enjoying food etc, can make as much differnece as the WHAT that we put in our mouths. The most important part about the what, is 'keep it close to nature'. As a nutritionist on a video I watched awhile back said, 'vegan, paleo, keto, carnivore, they're all good, so long as you eat real food'.

As for lab-grown meat, seems to me that nobody with a trace of objectivity and intelligence can fail to have noticed that every time we move food further away from nature, the consequences are very negative. I'm looking at you 'philanthropaths'.

Food is a really big deal. Great that you that you have shone a light on it Mary! And I might dare to predict you'll get a big response on this one - it will touch a chord with a lot of people!

XOX

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for sharing some of your own experiences with food, Michael. I'm sure many of us resonate with them! Your comment about our attitude toward food vs. the content of our plates MOST DEFINITELY rings a bell. Attitude may be the single most important thing, actually.

I have to highlight the phrase, "nobody with a trace of objectivity." Well, there's our problem right there, no? xox

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Indeed.

Expand full comment
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thank you for bringing particles and waves of light to this complex and vital topic. Love the idea of opposing sides ultimately sitting down together at the table of harmony.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks for helping me make this piece better! Grateful to you...🙏🏼

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I feel like this was written for me. As I’m going through my own nutricional journey, especially having been a pescatarian for the last decade, I’m now very consciously thinking about food in more ways than just being ethically against factory farming. And it’s not just about what you eat. It’s how you eat and when and with whom and your disposition at the time of eating… the quantum level of food is barely even tapped as a concept.

Lovely read and I’m sure I’ll be keeping this in mind as I move forward. Thank you.

Expand full comment
author

It actually was. Well, almost. I started thinking about it because of my conversations with you! So thank you for inspiring me.

You're so right -- it IS about "how you eat and when and with whom and your disposition at the time of eating." All of it, and then some. Larger and more magnificent than our puny peabrains can contemplate!

Onward...xox

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Interestingly, Charles Eisenstein came up in Teresa’s post and in his book The Yoga of Eating he talks about eating consciously. I agreed with everything the book said and yet, I continued consuming my food whilst doing other things, most often working. There have been times when I have been angry when sitting down at a meal and I feel like every bite I swallowed, I was also swallowing a bit of my rage. It certainly would explain some of my recent predicaments. :(

Expand full comment
author

Sometimes it takes a big theatrical slap in the face to get us to do what we "know" would be better for us. I can't tell you how many books on meditation I read --I'm talking over the span of years -- and never once sat down to actually do it. 🤦‍♀️

Good news! You can always start anywhere, as they say in improv. Sending ❤️

Expand full comment

Received! ❤️

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Hey Tonika, What you said here made me think of this new article also on substack.

https://danielrushforth.substack.com/p/reclaiming-mealtimes-the-lost-artform?publication_id=1196926&post_id=141194568&isFreemail=true&r=bbrhg

It's a nice piece of writing and makes some excellent points. BTW, you're in my thoughts.

Expand full comment

Agreed, that was a great read. Thank you for keeping me in your thoughts, Rocket. Looking forward to seeing you again soon. 🤗 I had to look up PickleBall after you mentioned it. Looks hella fun!

Expand full comment
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh, Mary. Yours was the first email I saw this morning and I had to laugh. I've had a post languishing in my Dashboard for months now titled "Food Dogma." It's something that is constantly on my mind. I'm so tired of the vitriol and righteousness. Now, I can just share yours without fretting over mine. :)

I agree with everything you wrote 1000%. Those of us who have been on long healing journeys (I mean, who isn't/hasn't these days?) know this topic oh-so-well. When I was a student at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, our teacher told us one day that there was a new eating disorder label called orthorexia nervosa - the obsession with healthy eating. He asked us to raise our hands if it resonated. I swear, the entire auditorium filled with better-health-seekers raised our hands. I have relaxed SO MUCH since those days. Potato chips are still my favorite occasional junk food (potatoes are good for us, right??)

You did this topic proud, Mary. Thank you! 🥔🥔

Expand full comment
author

Barbara! So glad to take the topic off your plate, as it were 😂. I've had those experiences and it's such a relief to feel like it's "been handled."

As much as I'm fed up with labels and diagnoses, I can appreciate the pervasiveness of that "condition." Food should not be a whip to punish ourselves with, or to punish others with, either. Sometimes, a potato chip is what the soul needs, dammit!!

Thanks for the praise, and the comment. xox

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

🥔🥔🥔! 🥰

Expand full comment
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I just love you, Mary. Let me get that off my chest first.

So many topics! To start with one, I have this nagging guilt that telling my BiL about the health impacts of the vaccine just before his diagnosis gave him cancer. One of the tenets of The Four Agreements is 'watch your words.' Words are spells. And if you cast a spell on someone with your words and they accept it, they fulfill it. I don't know what to do with that, but there's something in it I can't dismiss. And it does make me careful about 'hitting' people with truth bombs, especially after decisions have been made and they can't take them back. Here's my episode on The Four Agreements: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/the-four-agreements.

And yes on Foodogma. In my brief foray into online dating, I did a meet n' greet with a macrobiotic and carnivore in the same weekend. Macrobiotic, I found, tells you each bite needs to be chewed 50X, I think it was. It restricts your fruit to 2-3X a week, I believe, and even limits water. But that guy made me salmon, and it was delicious. The meat-eater I ended up seeing again but try flirting over steak with suet chunks, no alcohol, no other food, no coffee. And this being during the pandemic, nowhere else to go!

I have another one on why I think vegans and animal husbandry share the same value system: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/animal-husbandry-is-the-new-vegetarian. One of my points is that Foodogma (to use your brilliant word) has ruined eating in community. Putting on dinners is what I'm most known for. I had a thing I did called Food in the Hood. If my websites hadn't gone belly-up, I could have shown you menus, photos and causes for a hundred dinners I did with up to 100 people at one called Killer Women & Carbon Cowboys on regenerative ag and animal husbandry.

The bane of my experience was catering to all the Foodogmas, particularly vegans. If we lived in the real world, meaning a world without slavery, all food someone else gave would induce gratitude. These are forms of consumer ethics and, to me, that's just being holier-than-thou.

So I really commend your article and I have to say, it's delightfully written. Your turns of phrase are always such a surprise. If you do wade into abortion and want a nuanced, third paradigm view, here's this one: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/roe-v-redux-leak-or-squirrel.

Expand full comment
author

Where do I even begin with this comment?? I want to absolve you of any residual guilt regarding your BiL; I want to write a short play (or see one that you write) called The Macrobiotic and the Carnivore; I want to travel back in time to show at one of your dinner events (what a name! Food in the Hood!); and I want to second your belief about food, slavery, and gratitude.

Finally, I want to thank you for your kind compliments about my writing, and then go and read all of the pieces, each with its own masterful, intriguing title, that you've linked to.

Tereza, I love you, too!

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh and I forgot to mention that we had the same mom! Cream of mushroom was a staple in my house. I didn't have a real mushroom until I went to college and visited a friend's house. Jello counted as salad if it had canned fruit salad in it. I do remember being fond of porcupines--meatballs in tomato sauce with rice. But salt and pepper were the only spices and pepper was considered risque. Stove top stuffing, box mixes, dream whip topping. No wonder I barely broke 100 lbs by the time I graduated! And this also explains why I taught myself to cook by going through cookbooks from beginning to end--including Julia Child.

Expand full comment
author

OMG! We did have the same mom!! Jello as salad, yep. Hamburger Helper was big, too. "Pepper was risque" 😂

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Oh and I just remembered, it was canned fruit COCKTAIL. How's that for making a rubbery peach square sexy?

Expand full comment
author

I ate the exact same thing. 🤮

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Hamburger Helper! Your mom at least had a copy of Joy of Cooking, which used real ingredients. My mom had an index card file (I still have it) of recipes cut out from magazines and boxes put out by Kraft. On the handful of occasions I remember them going on a date, we got frozen TV dinners, the height of luxury!

But then she'd do things like can homemade green tomato relish. My grandmother was known for her pie crusts, wild rabbit, and even made her own noodles, which I remember hanging from clotheslines in the kitchen to dry. So it was a complete pendulum swing.

Expand full comment
author

My mom cut out recipes from the Cleveland Plain Dealer for things like "Cheesy Beany Weenies," (I kid you not) which I then put into a big binder. It's quite the relic. On the flip side, she was a superb baker. All from scratch.

So interesting the shift from your grandmother to mother! Must have the advertising reach of television, don't you think?

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thanks for the absolution. I think there should be a word for the tendency to look at anything and say, "What could I have done differently?" no matter how unrelated. I can't tell you the bizarre things I carry guilt over for something innocuous I did or didn't do that maybe would have turned things another way. Hyper-responsibility?

My oldest daughter shares this, the bereavement counselor. It goes along with obsessive problem solving. I've adopted her mantra of "not my problem," which sounds callous but has saved me no end of frustration.

Haha, I think The Macrobiotic & the Carnivore needs to be a sequel to my episode The Lust Frontier: Disposable Dating & the Great Isolation: https://thirdparadigm.substack.com/p/the-lust-frontier. Speaking of snappy titles ;-)

We're going to plan a meeting of Disagreeable Women (my name for the gang) in my hood. Now that I've turned the library into another bedroom, I'm up to six with the garaj mahal! And I need to make it up to Tonika that I've crushed her last hope in Eisenstein and Kennedy.

She mentioned going to Boston and I suddenly remembered that was with you! It's so funny that when that happened, your name meant little to me and, as I wrote there, now means so much. Isn't it strange to remember when you first hear of someone and have a vague impression, and they come to be a real live friend?

Expand full comment
author

I feel for you on the hyper-responsibility issue. I don't have it, but I know someone who does and it's awful.

More great titles, indeed. You've got a knack. I like Disagreeable Women AND the Garaj Mahal -- perfect.

Yes!! I remember reading your comments on many stacks that I followed and being impressed and a little frightened of you...😂 Now, I'm just impressed!!

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Hahahahaha!

Expand full comment
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thank you.

Love this and very timely. Been noticing the same in terms of extremes in the food world, and I love your explanations on our possible unconscious attempts at balancing.

If anyone asks me what I think about this topic, I'll direct them here with a 'what she said'.

"With all of the known and unknown variables that are at play when we talk, think, and argue about food — how can anyone tell anyone else that their way of eating is right or wrong, better or worse?"

That's it, we all figure it out ourselves. Never hurts to bless and say thank you to food either!

PS - I got mac n cheese in my cupboard too and let's not forget the dark chocolate. :-)

Beautiful job, Mary.

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Kathleen! The topic is just laughably vast, which is why all we CAN do is listen to our bodies and go with what works. And speaking of which, I love dark chocolate but oh, the caffeine... I'm such a delicate flower 🙄.

Grateful for the comment.

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Ha ha, I've got (organic, of course 😂) mac and cheese in my pantry, too, Kathleen. For the apocalypse. And dark chocolate, because it's healthy, right?? Healthier than milk chocolate, right?? 🫢 🍫

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Yes organic of course! (My son tells me I'm kidding myself on that, but I still think it matters.)

Dark chocolate is definitely healthy and even more so when paired with red wine. :-)

What makes us happy MUST good for us - to some extent anyway. Cheers, Barbara!🍷&🍫

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Wink 😉 🩷

Expand full comment
Feb 4Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I love the particles and waves metaphor (I used it myself in a very different context here: https://thecassandracomplex.substack.com/p/particles-and-waves). It makes sense that your mental state when consuming certain foods would affect how the body processes them. I've felt that with certain powerful plant medicines -- to use an extreme example, mindset has a huge effect on the potential healing powers of psilocybin (magic) mushrooms ... you kind of have to have faith that they can help you for them to help you.

A revelation I had in spring 2020 (while on mushrooms, I'll admit) was that the healthiest way to eat was to look for "fractal" foods (see my link above for an explanation of fractals). Processed and refined foods lose their "fractalness" (can't think of a better word right now) during processing. I think about this in relation to avoidant restrictive food intake disorder and autism ... many autism activists online talk about how one of the reasons they like their highly processed "safe" foods is that they are the same every time, whereas every apple or blueberry or bite of steak is a little bit different.

It's not a perfect metaphor but I've found it useful.

Expand full comment
author

Great article! I loved your use of the particle/wave metaphor in the human being context, Meghan, and YES -- mindset is everything!

Fractals are a new arrival in my life, probably because I never gravitated to math as a kid. (Though now that the panic of "getting it right" in school has blessedly passed, I find I'm actually drawn to it.) I've never heard about a PREFERENCE for processed foods, so thanks for that piece of knowledge. It makes sense, I guess, but also seems sad...

Glad you're here!

Expand full comment
Feb 5·edited Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I'm not sure how common a preference for processed foods is, but it certainly seems common among people on the autism spectrum, likely due to gut dysbiosis (imbalance of gut bacteria) and refined sugar addiction. Autism is a condition of disconnection, from the self, from others, from nature (including healthy food), from spirituality (higher than average rates of atheism), and from one's own body. All of these are related to right hemisphere dysfunction, and a preference for particles over waves.

I think fractals are only introduced in much higher level university mathematics! I only learned about them as an adult, but it's very intuitive.

Expand full comment
author

Really enlightening, Meghan. A "condition of disconnection" makes so much sense, though I've never heard it described that way.

I think if fractals had been brought in earlier, I might have actually paid attention in Calc...

Expand full comment

|Good Morning Mary!

I've never thought of food as particle and wave, and love that you brought up the carrot as an example, along with the yin aspect of EMF. I find that many people who come to me with electrical illnesses or EMF issues are often cold, especially in the hands and fingers. I think it could be the body's way of trying to retain warmth at the mitochondrial level (particle) but looking at the wave aspect you put forth here makes total sense.

As far as taking selfies when eating our food, we're treating our food as strictly particles with no wave., only radiowaves that impact our metabolism and can make us obese or too thin:

https://romanshapoval.substack.com/p/thelightdiet

Expand full comment
author

Roman! Your article is, as always, a wealth of fascinating information. Reinforces "the more you know, the more you realize how little you know" concept 😂. And I'm delighted by the carrot connection...

Expand full comment

Thank you Mary for your kind words. One more thing on carrots I recently found on reading Nourishment by Fred Provenza:

carrots when eaten out of the ground have a very absorbable form of B12, as the soil bacteria is the linchpin which allows our bodies to use B12. Studies done by the NIH showed that taking B12 supplements could 4x the risk of lung cancer for smokers. I know...it's the NIH, but it's another reason to love carrots right out of the ground. I'll risk the parasites for that B12.

Expand full comment
author

Whoa, more mindblowers. I love fresh-from-the-soil carrots. Actually, I love anything that's just been harvested. There's nothing quite like it, and most of us never get to experience that.

Re: parasites, I remember Jordan Rubin talking about what he called "homeostatic soil organisms" -- or soil bacteria -- as being the reason he was able to return to health. Once I read that, I fully embraced eating stuff right out of the garden, and never regretted it!

Expand full comment
Feb 7Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

RE: "With all of the known and unknown variables that are at play when we talk, think, and argue about food — how can anyone tell anyone else that their way of eating is right or wrong, better or worse?"

and "Does food have to be emotionally charged, too? Can’t we all just eat whatever the hell we want and get on with it?"

Regarding eating meat. I am not opposed to eating meat myself but since I strive to cultivate the majority of that which I eat at home (and I live in an urban suburban setting) raising animals is not viable for me right now.

Also, for hundreds of kilometers in all directions around where we live the forest has been chopped down (and the wild life populations decimated) in the name of “progress”, so hunting is not really a viable or ethical option for me either.

Thus, for now, I eat a mostly plant/fungi based diet (trading with an Amish farmer nearby for eggs and dairy occasionally).

Another part of my decision to not eat meat currently is I have known a few guys that worked at slaughterhouses and I witnessed the toll it takes on one’s heart and mind (one of them became an alcoholic and the other transformed into a very angry and depressed person).

The hazards are psychological as well as physical. One paper on the psychological harm suffered by slaughterhouse employees in the US noted that abattoir workers "view, on a daily basis, large-scale violence and death that most of the American population will never have to encounter."

There’s even a form of post-traumatic stress disorder linked to repetitive killing: Perpetration-Induced Traumatic Stress (PITS). Symptoms can include depression, paranoia, panic and dissociation. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28506017/

Another study noted relatively high levels of anxiety, anger, hostility and psychoticism among slaughterhouse workers. Symptoms can also include violent dreams and some workers seek treatment similar to that used to help war veterans.

Perhaps some people can handle that type of work better than others, but these guys were nice people that were enjoyable to be around and the experience of ending life, all day everyday as a day job, being exposed to intermittent instances of suffering and horrible sounds/sights when the process goes wrong, really took a toll on them.

They receive relatively poor pay and I have also read the suicide rates of slaughterhouse workers is inordinately high, thus, I do not feel right outsourcing that emotional, mental and physical cost onto other human beings either, so if I was going to eat meat, it would only feel right to me if I was to do the killing my self, as to only burden myself with the emotional trauma of that act so I can eat the meat, and not outsource it onto another.

I will not judge other people for outsourcing that cost onto other human beings (who have to do the killing so that they can eat meat) but I am personally not willing to put that psychological burden on someone else to serve my own selfish preferences.

My recipe book is mostly vegetarian (I included a couple family heirloom recipes from my grandparents that include meat) but I do not preach about vegetarianism or veganism in my book as I think we have enough "us vs them" show downs happening already. Rather, I invited people to make each choice through the lens of people care, earth care and future care (the permaculture design ethics) and that applies for diet as well. Thus, for me, unless I am the one killing the animal myself, eating meat would violate the people care ethic.

Thanks again for writing this and inviting discussion.

Expand full comment
author

The heavy toll slaughterhouses take on their participants is so very real; thank you for bringing this into focus, Gavin. Few people are aware of it. (Actually, few people are aware of anything, really, but particularly this. And not that I am blaming them... the system is designed to keep us in a happy, distracted bubble.)

Your choices make so much sense to me, and I admire your conviction to stay true to them. I do my best, and then there are times when I let go of perfect in service of good. I love your attitude toward others, the care and consciousness with which you live. Grateful for you!

Expand full comment
Feb 11·edited Feb 11Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thanks for the thoughtful response Mary.

I am not perfect and I have many areas of my life where I am striving to bring my actions into further alignment with the ethical compass I aspire to live by. It is a perpetual process of challenging myself to take an honest look in the mirror and humbly asking the divine for guidance on how I can be of better service to this world. Sometimes I do not like the suggestions and guidance I am given (as it invites me to let go on ingrained habits I have become accustomed to) and it takes me a long time to integrate that knowing, acknowledgment and way of living into my day to day choices, but I keep trying, I keep getting back up when I fall down, and I am glad you do to.

Expand full comment
Feb 7Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Have you heard of a new field of study called Nutrimiromics?

I wrote about it a bit a while ago here:

https://gavinmounsey.medium.com/nutrimiromics-ff69f1f908b7

In the post I ask questions like:

What if there was a mechanism that allows for the experiences and environmental stimulus of one being (whether plant, animal, bacteria or fungi) to be interpreted and encoded into the genetic fabric of a completely separate organism which stimulates a shift in epigenetic expression (influencing what phenotype is expressed on the macro level) in real time?

Expand full comment
author

Wow... never heard of it. I'm looking forward to reading it your post! Sounds wild and fascinating!

Expand full comment
Feb 7Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thanks for sharing your experiences, thoughts and insights on this matter.

When I read "All extremism is marked by singleminded and passionate belief in the ideology involved." I immediately thought of this Charles Eisenstein quote from his Climate book:

"The addiction to fighting draws from a perception of the world as composed of enemies: indifferent forces of nature tending toward entropy, and hostile competitors seeking to further their reproductive or economic self-interest over our own. In a world of competitors, well-being comes through domination. In a world of random natural forces, well-being comes through control. War is the mentality of control in its most extreme form. Kill the enemy—the weeds, the pests, the terrorists, the germs—and the problem is solved once and for all.

Except that it never is. World War I—the “war to end all wars”—was followed by another, even more horrific, soon after.

This pattern of thinking is called fundamentalism, and it closely parallels the dynamics of two defining institutions of our civilization: money and war. Fundamentalism reduces the complex to the simple and demands the sacrifice of the immediate, the human, or the personal in service to an overarching ulterior goal that trumps all. Disciplined by the promise of heavenly rewards or hellish punishments, the extreme religious fundamentalist shuts down his humanity in service to what his religion/church says God wants. Disciplined by economic exigency, millions of people sacrifice time, energy, family, and what they really care about in pursuit of money. Disciplined by an existential threat, a nation at war turns away from culture, leisure, civil liberties, and everything that is of no utility to the war effort.

This is the mentality of sacrifice to an all-important end. If we agree that the survival of humanity is at stake, then any means is justified, and any other cause—say reforming the prisons, housing the homeless, caring for the autistic, rescuing abused animals, or visiting your grandmother—becomes an unjustifiable distraction from the only important thing. Taken to its extreme, it requires that we harden our hearts to the needs in front of our faces. There is no time to waste! Everything is at stake! It’s do or die! How similar to the logic of war.”

( above quote from: https://charleseisenstein.org/books/climate-a-new-story/eng/prologue/ )

Expand full comment
author

Such good stuff, Gavin. The need to narrow our lives to attain some "noble goal" has been promulgated for eons, most recently during the covid lockdowns. Will we ever learn?

Expand full comment

Thanks, I may not always agree with Charles, but there is no doubt in my respect for his eloquence with using words to vividly express and describe aspects of our world.

RE: "Will we ever learn?"

I would say that many are, millions globally in fact, learning from our mistakes, choosing to guide their choices by compassion, reverence for all life and using their innate gifts to be in service of life. They may be a minority, but it only takes a candle to light up an entire room filled with darkness.

Some (such as Derrick Jensen) feel that the inevitable end result of continuing on the trajectory that industrial civilization is on is extinction for humans, but others have a vision which I would say is a much worse potential than death and extinction.

(a clip that expresses Derrick's perspective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImbnWSkqfig )

It the book I quote above (and some of his other essays), Charles Eisenstein invites us to look through a mirror darkly and instead consider, what if we can truly make our current way of life "sustainable" ? What kind of hellish soul corroding concrete world would we end up with a few generations down the road if we keep this up and manage to keep "Civilization" on life support "sustainably"?

These sections of the book quoted above are relevant:

- https://charleseisenstein.org/books/climate-a-new-story/eng/in-a-rhino-everything/

- https://charleseisenstein.org/books/climate-a-new-story/eng/the-concrete-world/

a quote from the an essay linked below that expresses the potential Charles invites us to consider:

"I do not worry that our system is not sustainable. I worry that it is. I am afraid that we can continue to lay waste to the living earth, indefinitely, ending up on a concrete world, so chronically ill physically and mentally that we must incorporate technological assistance into our very brains and bodies. I am afraid we will compensate for the lost connection to a living world with a burgeoning array of virtual substitutes, digital realities, and online adventures, tragically seeking something that we come to forget we ever had. Do you remember how loud the frogs were? Do you remember flocks of birds extending from horizon to horizon? Do you remember the clouds of fireflies that lit up the nights of my father’s youth? I am afraid we will forget we ever lived in such wealth and make do instead with Mario Cart. We are already far down this path to a concrete world, and far down the path of learning to cope with it. American doctors write every year around 120 million prescriptions for SSRIs, 118 million prescriptions for Adderall, Ritalin, and other ADHD medications, and 120 million for benzodiazepines. That’s more than one psychiatric drug prescription per capita!"

https://charleseisenstein.substack.com/p/how-the-environmental-movement-can

another quote that is along the same lines:

It invites us to imagine a world, lets say a century from now, where we have "sustained" the way we currently live now, depicting...

"..a nightmare world where the entire biosphere has been converted to a giant feedlot and industrial park, where we manage the planet like a machine with technological tweaks to its gross material components, where no species exists that has not been turned to human purposes. It is a world wholly toxic to life except within artificially maintained enclaves. It is a world of vat-grown meat, computerized hydroponic greenhouses instead of farms, algae pools for oxygen, carbon-sucking machines to regulate the atmosphere, desalinization plants, climate-controlled air-filtered bubble cities, and a planetary surface converted to one huge mine and garbage dump. In that world, human life becomes entirely dependent on technology, as we retreat from the ugliness we have wrought into an artificial or even a virtual environment. Can you say this isn’t already under way? This is not a world I would want to live in. No one would, yet for thousands of years, humanity in aggregate has proceeded choice by choice, step by step toward a Concrete World. I would like to dismiss it as impossible on ecological grounds, but what if it is possible? What if, instead of being compelled to reject it, we must consciously choose a different path?

Whether or not endless technological adaptation to an ever-more-degraded ecosystem is actually possible, the perception that it is possible indeed presents us with the necessity of making a conscious choice. If ecological degradation had the power to force us to choose a healing path, it would have happened already. Therefore, that choice to take the healing path will have to be made on some basis other than compulsion. It will not come through fear of personal or civilizational extinction.

Despite all that has been lost in our progress toward a concrete world, much beauty remains. The earth is still alive. Now is the time to choose life. It is not too late.

Most people would acknowledge a feeling of loss at the thought of a world without elephants, rhinos, or whales. But, the cynic might say, we’ll get used to it and not know that anything is missing, just as you probably are not mourning the loss of the Pyrenean ibex or the hundreds of nameless species going extinct every year. However, in the Story of Interbeing, where self is relationship, each extinction impoverishes the web of relationships on Earth that includes ourselves; it shrinks us and simplifies us. Extinctions are the end result of an ideology that makes other beings into less than full beings and excludes them from the circle of self. First, they are cast out of full existence via our belief system; in the end, the casting out takes irrevocable physical form. First, the mythology of separation isolates us from our companions, who are really part of ourselves; then those companions perish forever.

This impoverishment goes beyond outright extinction. Many species, while not entirely extinct, persist as remnant populations on tiny fragments of their former range. Thus they recede from our lived experience. Moreover, modern people live almost entirely in a realm of products, media, and the indoors, estranging them from the life forms remaining in their ambit. I cannot identify the name and likeness of more than ten bird species from their songs. Can you? I hope you can, but I think most in my culture cannot. This degree of alienation is normal now.

One consequence of this is an ever-growing loneliness, an ache that nothing in the indoor world, manufactured world, or digital world can assuage. We miss the complement of our relationships in all their diversity. Standardized, digitized, or abstract relationships do not nourish full beingness. Surrounded by standardized commodities, visiting public spaces filled with strangers, interacting increasingly through the internet, and distanced from intimate relationship with nature in a world of climate-controlled houses, packaged food, and machine-mediated labor, we are poor in our very existence. Do we still survive? Yes. From the perspective of the Story of Separation, we continue to exist. But it is a partial, anemic existence."

above quote from: https://charleseisenstein.org/books/climate-a-new-story/eng/the-concrete-world/

I am not misanthropic but if I had to choose between “the concrete world” and no more humanity I would choose the latter. I love all beings on the Earth (humans included) but I do not feel that humanities preferences, addictions and bad habits should be allowed to result in mass extinction for our elder species. I personally would prefer humanity go extinct rather than turn the world into some kind of disgusting lifeless ecumenopolis, but I think that either potential may be possible if we allow things to continue as they do now.

I do not think that the Dark concrete feeding lot/garbage dump/mining pit world that Charles invites us to consider is very likely to become manifest (for several reasons, some of which are mathematical and others more spiritual). However, perhaps, as he implies, contemplating that potential can provide a more powerful impetus for us to finally learn and change how we live on the Earth (motivating us to change more effectively than the scare tactic of saying humanity could go extinct)?

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Yes! My niece's son suffers from type 1 diabetes. His dad is hispanic and we are part. Her son's blood sugar is way more manageable when he eats for his heritage, which means good Mexican food. No processed evil...and I think of that many times. I picked up a can of cream of chicken soup the other day and looked at the ingredients. Bleck. I changed my life by getting rid of bags, boxes and cans in my diet. Lost 65 lbs...Well put and a much overlooked aspect of our health. I love how walnuts are good for your brain, and they look like a brain....and many more examples like that. Appreciate your thoughts and words Mary!♥♥

Expand full comment
author

Bleck is right!! And 65 lbs? That's so impressive, SadieJay. Especially since it came about as a return to real food. It makes so much sense, but people just can't give up their notions of calories, fat, etc., when it comes to weight loss. "Parts is parts!" Um, nope.

Appreciate you!❤️❤️

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Hi Mary, I don't really have anything to say about "food", but I'd like to add something to your last line in the article about sitting down "with the rest of humanity at Mother Earth’s table as we “break bread” together." I read a recent piece by someone named Gareth Higgins regarding moving the needle forward with those we are not in conversation with presently. He suggests that we try to the fullest extent possible to find someone who is most different from us, who might mildly disagree with us on some issue, or who actively can't stand the ground you walk on and open a dialogue. Start by making a commitment to non-violence (!), and then asking each other what some of the things might be that we could do for the common good that have nothing to do with our political differences. What's happening in our neck of the woods that we'd like to change for the better?

Of course, sharing food often plays a role in most get-togethers. I remember when the Rev used to write about promoting "potlucks". It always used to make me groan. I'm not "into" potlucks. I pretty much do that every night, but we call it a "crap shoot". But the general idea is still a good one, or even brown-bagging it. The point is to start somewhere, challenging as that is to me. Tell you what, you go first!! LOL

xox

Expand full comment
author

Thanks, Rocket! I was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019 and I went to an event that was part of a series called "Breaking Bread Conversations." You bought a ticket which included dinner with a bunch of strangers, a brief presentation/talk by someone in the community, and then conversation about that topic with the people next to you at a very big table. Halfway through dinner, we all got up and changed places so we could talk with others. Toward the end, we shared insights with the whole group. I LOVED IT. I feel like that's EXACTLY what we need, and I've been threatening to do that here in FL. Hmmm... your comment may be just the nudge I need to get this going. So maybe I WILL go first! 😂 xox!

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Yes, definitely sounds like something right up your alley! Go for it! Let us know how it pans out. I might have to put my money where my mouth is at some point. I hate when that happens.

Expand full comment
author

🤣

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Belief... I’m happy you included this topic in your beautifully written piece. I think there is much to be discovered regarding the positive effects of belief – a placebo, if you will. From my own experience, I think I have had so much success in keeping MS at bay because I hold strong beliefs in the science behind my chosen lifestyle. However, I would be in a different place today without that fundamental belief in what I’m doing. The same can be said about the opposite effect – a nocebo effect. If you lack total belief and commitment, failure is waiting just outside the door...

Expand full comment
author

Well said, Jack, and utterly true.

I was wanting to reach out to you about this piece but ran out of time... thanks for your own beautifully written essay about your journey! I hope people find their way to it.

P.S. How did the pancakes turn out?

Expand full comment
Feb 5Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

The pancake project went on a brief hiatus (I was too busy recovering from an injury a few days ago). I plan to resume it this week and will definitely keep you posted.

Thanks also for reading my story. I know my way is not necessarily 'the way' for everyone, but it is scientifically sound, based on good research, and filled with positive side effects.

Expand full comment
author

Oh... I'm sorry to hear about an injury. I hope your healing is swift, so that you can return to your happy place in the kitchen. xox

Expand full comment
Feb 6Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

Thanks, Mary...I am inching closer to my happy zone in the kitchen.

Expand full comment

Terrific, Mary. How we select food and diet regimens for ourselves is very much akin to how we select addiction recovery/prevention regimens. Consequently, I always preface my remarks on addiction recovery with the suggestion that those who seek it are better advised to pursue whatever they think makes sense for them.

Glad also that you mentioned Annemarie Colbin. Can't begin to tell you how much I learned from her about food and healing and the power of grace. I met her as a student and graduate of her Manhattan cooking institute, the Natural Gourmet, in 1993-94. While there I not only had the opportunity to learn from her, but we also sat and talked together on numerous occasions. It was my only formal education, and I am forever in debt to her insight and generosity.

In the end, my thoughts on food and diet and the rhythmic attractions of life and art seem very similar to yours. Would love to discuss them with you at length some day. Please keep up the good work in the interim...

Expand full comment
author

Thank you Jeff, and WOW, what a wonderful opportunity with Annemarie Colbin! I used to PORE over the Institute's catalogue every time it arrived in my mailbox (how quaint!) and wanted to study there for years. Same time frame -- early 90s. Never had the chance, but her beliefs inspired my own self-education in that realm.

I'd love to talk more with you. You're in FL as I recall, yes? My email is mary@poindextermclaughlin... reach out any time.

Expand full comment
Feb 17Liked by Mary Poindexter McLaughlin

I work at an organic food market stall and these conversations come up all the time. 2 thoughts in addition to your post:

- Exercise versus nutrition: After reading Outlive by Dr Peter Attia, it seems that exercise (for those who can) offers much greater health benefits than nutrition alone. Of course both exercise and a generally healthy diet is best.

- Food for sharing: It occurs to me sometimes that certain special diets (the ones we impose on ourselves by choice rather than by necessity) might introduce social barriers. I mean, the fussier the person, the more difficult it becomes to share a meal with them.

Expand full comment
author

Agreed on both of your thoughts, Steve. Both movement and nourishment are part of the essential human experience -- ideally, both would be done in a joyful state for maximum benefit!

On the food sharing thing... yes. Thus the "brown bag" concept at the end of my essay, because you're right -- it does make congregating around a meal more challenging. Someone else remarked in these comments that it also has the potential to expand our food horizons and become more accepting, so there's that...

Thanks for the comment!

Expand full comment