We are not asking the right questions!

  • Are you vegetarian?
  • Do you eat meat?
  • Any special diet? Gluten-free, dairy-free…?

These are the most frequent questions I get whenever I am invited to eat somewhere, especially when people know I am into nutrition.

However, these are NOT the right questions to ask!

Just because I eat meat does not mean that I eat ANY type of meat – like the “party” sausages from the supermarket that I was once offered in response. Just because I do eat gluten and dairy does not mean that I eat products made from refined wheat and sterilized milk from industrially raised cows. Just because nobody asks about vegetables, fruits, legumes or cooking oils/fats (because they are “vegan”, gluten- and/or dairy-free ) does not mean that I am actually fine eating them in the proposed quality.

My truly honest answer to the question: “Any special diet?” is not about any specific food category, but about the level of quality throughout ALL food categories: I do eat everything, just not in any quality. I eat food that has been grown in a regenerative or at least sustainable way. I avoid food that has been produced in a degenerative way.

Meat, cheese gluten containing products, but also tomatoes, apples, lentils and cooking oils can be regenerative or degenerative to the soil and human body.

What exactly does regeneration that mean?

To regenerate means to replenish, to repair and to increase health and fertility. To degenerate means the opposite: to diminish, to destroy and to decrease health and fertility. Regeneration goes beyond sustainability. To sustain simply means to maintain status quo – to continue doing what we are doing without deteriorating, but without improving either. However, these days the soils and bodies are so depleted, that mere sustaining is no longer enough. We need regeneration. We definitely do NOT need further degeneration and depletion.

If you want your food to optimally support your health and fertility, it needs to be grown in or raised on healthy and fertile soil. It also needs to contribute to the regeneration of that very soil’s health and fertility. Soil health and fertility and human health and fertility cannot be separated from each other, they go hand in hand. Whatever we do to the soil, we are doing it to ourselves.

Regeneration in agriculture means to balance the ph of the soil, to build top soil and to increase the amount of humus the soil contains.

Most foods are unfortunately grown in ways that do NOT regenerate the soil and thus neither the body. In best case they sustain it, but even that is not a given. This is true also for natural foods and even many “organic” foods. While those might indeed contain no or less chemicals, farmers can still choose to focus on feeding the plant (i.e. by applying a lot of animal manure) instead of feeding the soil. Soil fertility can thus NOT be judged merely by looking at the amount and size of produce growing on it or by the fact that no pesticides have been applied. In addition to that, many “organic” products are just as processed and almost as unhealthy as the conventional ones.

The organic label is thus not a guarantee for regenerative, fertile food and food that is not labeled “organic” does not necessarily mean that the food is not regenerative nor fertile. 

So, instead of asking someone whether or not they eat meat or dairy or gluten, ask them whether or not they eat degenerative food. We have to go beyond buying “natural”, “organic” or “vegan” and support farmers who produce in non-industrial, regenerative ways. We have to start asking the right questions.

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