26 June 2020: This is about the astonishing joy of eating easy anti-cancer food. Diet is not a panacea, but here are some practical ways to eat healthy organic food every day. I’m convinced it helps keep cancer at bay.
I am what I eat and I’m determined to eat healthy organic food. It’s time to stop putting everything from pesticides to artificial hormones from badly-raised and over-processed food products into our bodies.
My gut feel is that the best diet for me is to eat mainly vegetarian without giving up meat and dairy completely. My wife and I have identified five key ways we can eat healthier, with a primarily plant based diet, without too much fuss or expense to ourselves or the environment.
What got us going was a quest for health. What shocked us was how good the food tastes.
1. Grow organic food at home in the garden
If you have even the tiniest garden I encourage you to start growing some of your own food. It is deeply rewarding and it pays for itself immediately. I started with leafy greens – this is where the benefit of fresh picking is the most apparent.
I just love going outside and picking lettuce, spinach, basil, rocket (arugula), kale and (in winter) radicchio for a dazzlingly fresh salad. Growing and picking at home incurs zero climate damage. It uses no transport or packaging, and feeds all kinds of good nutrients into our bodies.
2. Grow organic food at home indoors
Not everybody has the privilege of a garden. But many people have windows with sunlight coming in, and that is enough to grow at the very least an indoor garden. It works particularly well in winter. Plants like the indoor warmth. Also, because the sun is lower in the sky, its generative light shines further in through the window than in summer.
Here’s our indoor garden basking in the (weak) midwinter sun in Johannesburg, under the window. Fresh winter basil, chocolate mint, parsley, and salad green seedlings getting ready for early spring planting. A few fresh basil leaves transform relatively drab winter greens.
My son and daughter in law in Brooklyn, New York figured out how to grow their own salad even in a basement apartment in winter. They had to use electric lights. I guess we can all learn from the technology that was originally developed mostly to grow marijuana indoors.
3. No more unhealthy or inhumane animal products
When I got cancer I reviewed my diet and found the biggest problem in animal foods – in my case milk, cheese, yoghurt and meat. While I fully support those who go vegan or vegetarian, that didn’t work for me.
But I realised it is essential to stop (a) introducing artificial hormones and other harmful substances into my body via products from poorly-raised animals, (b) contributing to inhumane practices in feedlots and chicken batteries, and (c) eating any more than the bare minimum of animal products for ecological reasons.
My commitment to a healthier anti-cancer diet started back in the early weeks after my cancer surgery. It included stopping eating animal products that are not humanely produced, organic and reared in as natural a way as possible.
The question became where to find these products without breaking the bank to pay for them, or busting out of lockdown to get them. Back then in March we were in a remote place, now we are back home in a city. We don’t have to solve the whole problem ourselves.
4. Buy online – get easy anti-cancer food delivered
This is 2021, right? Somebody has thought about this problem and found a solution. In our part of Johannesburg, that turns out to be Virgin City Fields, started by a couple in the south of the city who wanted to eat healthy food just like us.
They have searched out ethical and organic suppliers of all kinds of foods, from fruit and veg to dairy and meat to stoneground flour and Kimchi. They take orders online once a week, then do the rounds of all their suppliers, aggregate and deliver.
No coronavirus risk for us, no breaking lockdown rules, and no more junk going into our bodies.
Want to try it? Wherever you live, I hope and trust you can find an equivalent. Try Googling “organic food delivery near me.” You might need to go beyond the first page of search results to find the good ones who produce close to you. Beware of organic agribusiness which can sometimes add more environmental load. Look for the simple local growers who sell via farmer’s markets or smaller local retailers.
5. Joy of healthy food without adding too much cost
Yes, when buying organic we are paying a higher price for the same weight or volume of food. The cool thing is that we are getting way more taste and nutrition per portion than we used to.
So animal products take up proportionally less space on the plate and create more of a taste explosion on the palate, now that they are produced in a healthy and ethical way. Our total food bill is about the same as it was before.
Every single meal tastes like a feast
I am truly shocked how much difference it makes to eat foods that are properly and naturally grown. Apparently my diet impacts all of this: I feel better, I breathe more freely, and my armpits don’t stink any more.
I already knew how much better fresh naturally-grown fruit and veg are than those brightly-coloured perfect looking things one often finds in supermarkets. Now I am tasting what naturally-raised meat and dairy products are like and realising I haven’t had these food delights since I was a kid. Even the cooking aromas take me back to my mother’s cooking more than 50 years ago.
Last night we were out camping and cooked on an open fire. The small portion of chicken I ate with my dinner came from a bird that actually pecked for grain in an outdoor yard all day long. It cost as much as two portions of battery-fed tasteless, textureless wretches, and tasted ten times as good. Fresh salad from our garden made up 75% of our meal.
Healthy food brings an incomparable joy dividend.
An edited version of this post also appears on Psychology Today