25 March, 2009

The Good Life. Part 1.

I guess you who check out my Flickr stream and other online indicators of life know that I've moved out of the city to a tiny place about fifty miles out, on the bank of the Murray river. (Yep, there's a Murray river in Western Australia too, not just the Murray over east which is under stress.)  More recent peeks into the murky stream of my life may have revealed that besides my cat Ghostie, there has been a dwarf holland lop rabbit named Peta Rabbit, aka BimBomBunney. And more recently, a friend who bought a rabbit for christmas passed him on to Trish, who kept him for a while and then passed him on to me, so I now have a rabbit couple.

Also, as soon as the weather permitted me with my wheezy lungs to work outside, I've dug garden beds and planted out the first of a bunch of crops.  This is a BIG block, I figure half an acre or so, and my landlord lets me make gardens etc.  With our weather in Australia, and given the trees that shade the place so nicely in summer, it should be possible to put in a fairly steady rotation of crops.  I've placed a fair selection in tubs and pots, because that way they become portable should I start off on the road anytime soon.  What I'd like to achieve is to have as wide a range of foods as I can, and make this as portable as possible.

Anyhow - one of the first things I noticed when I was given Peta was the profusion of "experts" online who were quite happy dictating the exact types of foods and hay and pellets a rabbit was "allowed" to eat, when that rabbit should sleep, when it should eat, shit, etc.  And it got me wondering - who makes sure rabbits do "rabbit" things out in the wild?  Poor things, they must all be killing themselves with eating whatever they decided they needed, when they needed it....

So with Peta it's been trial and error, commonsense, and rabbit sense.  I'd offer a selection of foods, she'd throw aside foods she didn't like, and eat those that she did like.  If a food she liked was too sugary or too salty or too starchy, I'd make sure there was a bit less of it available than the staple foods of hay and pellets and the other vegetables she liked.  I have a happy healthy rabbit, the "experts" (I noticed, reading the forums) have rabbits whose stools go runny or whose digestive tracts block up, or fat obese rabbits that can no longer do all the things rabbits need to do in order to maintain their health.

This is a bit like many diets out there.  They dictate almost to the species of lettuce you're "allowed," the quantity to the nearest milligram, and so forth.  It's a bit like painting by numbers, you end up with a picture, but it may just not be a picture of health.  Commonsense.  It is to our diets what rabbit sense is to rabbits' diets. You already know that a fast food burger is bad for you.  You're aware that a couple of serves of fresh vegetables a day and a few pieces of fruit are good for you.  And I daresay most people try to do the right thing, which is why a strictly laid-down diet is counter-productive.

Also remember that we are fast losing much of the traditional oral lore of food, as foods are more and more put through production processes that make it unlike that same food would have been one hundred years ago.  How many people have ever seen a beetroot that wasn't in a tin and already boiled in standardised water salt and sugar?  There is a large body of myth surrounding modern food, and the manufacturers feed this Fear Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) by making the truth harder to get to, by giving you "health thermometer" scales on the packaging, by providing lists of ingredients where they deliberately avoid listing the harmful and make the other ingredients as hard to understand as possible.

When I started writing my diet book, I was concerned about my then looming prostate cancer.  As I researched and took the notes that later became my diet book, I was concerned about why I'd been gifted with cancer in the first place, and I was appalled at the things my research uncovered about food practices. You - yes, you reading this - right now have enough toxic material in your kitchen to make yourself very very sick.  And that was what I ended up addressing in the Body Friendly Zen Cookbook more than anything else.  Oh yes - the book has a set of foods that will help reduce cancer cell activity and allow your body to deal with the dysplasic cells - but there's a good helping of that nouveau food lore in there to empower your common sense.

I figure that once you're aware that your average cake mix you're buying for your child's first birthday contains chemicals that cause irritation and blindness, you'll reconsider the cake mix and instead buy flour and sugar and eggs and do it yourself.  Once you know that it's not a nice beefy mince on the tray at the butchers but a platter of meat that's been sprayed with a powerful irritant which is known to cause mucous membrane inflammation, respiratory distress, and may be implicated in bowel and colon cancer, you'll avoid that lovely red-raw-irritated look and pick the darker, naturally aged mince at the better butcher.

Because my research has shown me that food manufacturers don't give a flying fuck what effect they have on your health or the health of the environment, they are only out for profit profit and more profit.  And - and I stress this and can't stress it often or loudly enough - the more a large food conglomerate trumpets about being "healthy" and "natural" the more you can be sure that they totally are NOT being either.

So - take a look at my book, if you can't afford the $15 email me and I'll give you a free full copy of the book.  And follow this blog, put it in your reader list, because I'll keep the food lore flowing.


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