Veronica Shukla

Random Musings

The One-Straw Revolution: Parts Four and Five

I could write a lengthy blog post on just about every sentence in The One-Straw Revolution. Unfortunately, my library loan has expired for this e-book and all the highlights I made, so I must write a quick final post on a couple of his points that currently stand out the most to me.

Although I’ve read the book in its entirety, I am planning on purchasing the book to include in my library so that I can reference it and also read it several more times — something that will be necessary to come closer to grasping Fukuoka’s deeper sentiments. I’m a big advocate for libraries and sharing, but this is just one of those must-haves. I recommend you at least check it out. But I encourage you to purchase it, too, as this book is packed full of world-changing philosophies.

A lot of Fukuoka’s focus in these last two parts further elaborates on a quote that I discussed in my post about part three. It turns out that my thoughts were pretty close to what he was trying to say, but there were a few distinctions.

I had made the assumption that since my body is attuned to processed and unnatural foods, I will have to force myself through an adaptation phase where I adjust my tastes to start appreciating natural foods. I figured that sounded a little harsh as compared to normal Buddhist-type philosophies, but that’s all I could come up with.

Well it was. In fact, Fukuoka suggests quite the opposite. He says, “If you try to do something, your efforts will never achieve the desired result.”

He wants us to stop thinking so hard about everything. In the book, Fukuoka uses the Zen terminologies of the discriminating mind and the indiscriminating mind. Here is a good video describing the discriminating mind.

In order to be able to enjoy natural foods and consider them tasty, we should eat with our bodies and not our heads — use our intuition. We should not use our discriminating minds to eat.

When I get hungry, I usually get hungry for something. If I’m already very hungry, I will definitely bypass fruits and vegetables and go straight for bread or something very filling. I think that is eating with my body.

If I’m only partially hungry, I may think about eating something tasty and then decide whether I should eat something tasty or eat an apple because that’s what’s better for me. I think that is eating with my head.

Fukuoka makes a clear statement against eating something because it’s supposedly good for you. He talks about the Western science doctrine of nutrition and how unnatural it is. Obviously in South Dakota, most fresh fruits and vegetables (apples versus applesauce) would not naturally be available all year round. I’ve been pondering this fact myself lately — wondering how good for the environment this “healthy diet” that I’m trying to follow actually is.

I’ve done a lot of reading about what is healthy and what is not over the years. I’ve learned about a myriad of different nutrition philosophies and had come to the conclusion that it is utterly preposterous that humans do not know what they should be eating.

Obviously part of this fact arises because people who live in different climates evolved to eat different things, so we can’t actually clump humans into one category to determine what we are supposed to eat. But a lot of it is because of science. In trying to determine what we should eat, we’ve actually lost knowledge of what we are supposed to be eating. Fukuoka discusses the unfortunateness of science in agriculture and nutrition in great detail in the book.

Until now, I had never thought of it this way. I always thought science knew best, as if science was some all-knowing god. But the very fact that science has not been able to come to an agreeable conclusion regarding what we should eat — something all animals instinctively know — should have been a good clue that science doesn’t know all.

The only nutrition assertions that made sense to me logically or after trying them and feeling my body’s reactions were that fresh fruits and vegetables are the best for me; cooking cruciferous vegetables makes them easier to digest (after trying the raw diet); dairy is meant for cow babies, not humans, and has poor affects on my body; I feel lifeless without grains and fats; and that if humans became extinct and some other intelligent species found our bone fossils, they would probably assume that we were herbivores.

Now, although it looks to me as though our bodies are meant only to eat plants, and though I feel it is wrong to farm animals, I feel the way Native Americans in the Midwest (as an example) lived by eating animals, using every part of them, and only killing what they needed with respect was completely natural and acceptable.

However Native Americans didn’t just eat bison and corn. They foraged and ate all the plants on the prairie that were edible. They used them for food, fiber, and medicine. Native Americans didn’t need science to tell them what was healthy. They were one with the land. They most likely didn’t concern themselves with only taste or only nutritional benefit. That is to say, they most likely lived and ate with the indiscriminating mind.

Living in the city, transitioning wholly to this type of lifestyle will be hard until I can get a good food forest established in our yard. But as I transition over to more and more of my own grown and preserved food, I can also transition my thought processes.

Instead of comparing the taste of squash to a packaged food in a negative manner, I can just know that it is something different but not inherently less tasty. Instead of adhering to the idea that packaged food tastes best and fills me up the fastest, I will let go of that idea entirely. I will simply learn to appreciate squash as nature’s gift to me, the miracle that it is. I will be mindful of its flavors and how it makes my body feel.

The more I practice that, the more natural it will become to me. Eventually, I will be able to eat home-grown, natural, healthy food that is better for the environment and for my family and appreciate it for what it is, not what it isn’t. And that is what I believe Fukuoka is getting at.