Sometime in the late 1950’s, my mother became, for better or worse, a health “nut”. At the time, my opinion was that it was something of a tragedy. No more store-bought white bread, fewer sweet treats, and honey instead of sugar. The list of no-no’s grew as time rolled on.
It all started innocently enough. Decades ago, every Friday at 5:30 AM, my father and mother loaded a pickup truck with cases of eggs, went to Oklahoma City (about fifty miles away) and sold eggs. They went door-to-door to businesses and homes to sell “farm fresh” eggs for fifty cents per dozen when those at the store sold for thirty-five cents. One fateful day, it happened. They began selling to a health food and vitamin store. Over time, the owner, Minnie, seduced my mother to the allure of health and longevity into becoming a health nut. It made complete sense to my mother whose passion was the well-being of her family.
However, this, being like all addictions and obsessions, requires ever greater feeding of the beast. My brothers and I were enlisted to grind whole wheat grains on a hand-crank mill to make flour. We had to milk a goat (of all things) she’d acquired to so we could drink “healthier” milk. Then came the vitamin pills. First one, then more. Meanwhile, the bin that had contained white flour remained empty and the sugar tin had completely vanished.
My mother, now at eighty-nine years young, soldiers on in the quest for the most nutritious organic foods, best vitamins and herbal supplements. These days, a large portion of the world accepts the value of a healthy diet. My mother has felt vindicated and attributes the family’s good health to her efforts over her lifetime.
Her exoneration, while anecdotal, may contain some truth. On the other hand, many people have lived to over ninety and some even over one hundred, not having ever taken a vitamin pill, and never having eaten a healthy diet. Some even smoked and drank to excess and still were active right up until their eventual demise.
Scientifically, we are told by those with lofty degrees that most of the vitamins in the pills we take are passed through our bodies without benefit. Any claims of health benefits are considered by a number of health experts to be anecdotal. Others disagree. As to organic food, the jury is still out. Are all the pesticide and herbicide residues on our produce and in our prepared foods really harmful, or are our bodies discharging it through our waste without damage to our cells?
My opinion is that a healthy diet of the highest quality food and adequate exercise could eliminate any need of supplements, except in times of illness. I believe that much of what might be recommended by the vitamin industry could end up down the drain. In most cases, this would be harmless and/or just a waste of money.
As for organically produced food, I am a proponent. I will admit that it may or may not improve an individuals health and longevity. However, I am always in favor of “better safe than sorry”. If you can afford organically produced food, why not? Much of it certainly tastes better that the opposite.
I’ve often heard, “You are what you eat”. Given a choice, I’d rather my body be nourished from nature’s best food with a full range of nutrients than from less healthy, chemical-laden, heavily processed options.