The American food industry has left us fat, sick and pissed off. Our nation’s top health issues–obesity, heart disease and organ failures–can be linked to many consumption issues, and the pharmaceutical solutions posed by Western medicine hardly seem healthy either. There’s a pill or a poke to cure just about everything, but much of that is sullied by profit-driven solutions marketed over the television. Access to healthy food seems like a no-brainer, but our super stores are stocked with so much we shouldn’t eat, like hydrogenated fats in packaged foods, pesticide-laden produce and confusing labels that aren’t easily analyzed.
“Our culture is set up around profitability,” says Danielle Ryan of Samana Wellness. Her Maui-based wellness business creates individual and group cleanses, nutritional consulting and overall wellness plans. “Sickness is far more profitable than health. Three of the top fatal diseases in the U.S.–heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease–all have significant known dietary relationships. But changing what we eat is really difficult when we’ve been spoiled to choose foods and beverages based on flavor, texture, convenience and the allure of advertising. Convenience foods are chemically engineered to be addictive and their ease and availability support our fast-paced lifestyles, which do not value taking time to create and enjoy fresh homemade meals on a daily basis. It’s so much easier just to take a pill for the problem and keep living life as usual.”
Craig King, the man behind Maui’s locally sourced fresh Glow Juice products, says the food system leaves much to be desired.
“Many food establishments are paying some attention to bringing In more ‘healthy choices,'” says King. “The problem is that most foodservice is build upon a business model which didn’t start out with healthy clean food as a priority and dedication. In my consulting work transforming institutional food systems towards healthier pastures, I discovered that typically the food budget per day for an elder in assisted living is $7.50 per day for all food and beverage. Because most food systems are built with a focus on profit, the quality of the food is almost always compromised. Unfortunately, we all pay in a different column.”
King says food is made to be our health care. But can we afford it?
“Access to super fresh, local, healthy food is unfortunately far more expensive than foods that are shipped from far away and devoid of their vital nutrients,” says Kathryn Dahm of Choice Health Bar in Lahaina, where they serve fresh local raw produce and juices daily. “It blows me away how the most pure, untouched foods like a local avocado or mango can be $5 a piece at a grocery store while a king size candy bar is fifty cents. Somehow, the big box stores have found ways to make the unhealthiest and least earth-friendly products the cheapest, because they are made with synthetic materials in huge factories.”
On Maui, our markets have a challenge when it’s more expensive to buy locally farmed organic produce versus something cheaper if it’s shipped in. Store managers have also remarked that people don’t understand when Maui doesn’t produce items that the Mainland grows year-round like apples and oranges. We’ve been brainwashed and retrained by industrial agriculture–nothing is seasonal anymore.
Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Maui Nutritionist Jessica Quinn of Be Nutritious points to this statement as part of her belief that healthy eating benefits the body. She says she updates it with the addition of a few words: organic, high alkaline, high vibrancy, superfoods and superior herbs.
“I do know of a few restaurants on this island that do serve health conscious food options, yet only a few,” says Quinn. “I can only assume that the other restaurants do not do the same because the owners or creators of the menu have not yet integrated health conscious foods into their own personal diet, therefore they are not in a position to offer that to the general public. I believe the general public’s demand for health conscious food is not yet mainstream due to the notion that the big agriculture and big pharmaceutical companies are working together to promote low vibrational food choices that cause the breakdown of human health therefore furthering the reliance on pharmaceutical medications. They have distorted Hippocrates’ model with their own strategic plan involving greed, fear, power, control and money.”
Ryan says the key to getting stores to provide better healthier food is voting with our dollars. The answer is simple: ask for something new.
“As consumers demands change, our food supply changes,” says Ryan. “Again it comes back to profitability. Every time we make a purchase, we are voting with our dollars for more of that same thing to be produced. As more people start to wake up and realize that as a whole our readily available food choices are substandard and that our eating habits are killing us, and have the courage and inspiration to make different purchases, then what is supplied as a whole will change. We really have much more power in this process than most people realize. What are you voting for with your weekly purchases more of the same or change?”
Monica Mikolajczyk of r.i.p.e. juice Maui makes fresh raw juice for clients with ailments like moderate to severe arthritis, previous sports injuries, diabetes, obesity, melanoma, and I.B.S.. She believes fully in the powers of raw juice cleansing to treat them.
“Raw juice is so powerful because everything it contains is immediately absorbed,” says Mikolajczk. “This means your body is flooded with essential vitamins, minerals, live enzymes and key antioxidants. Juice cleansing is an important part of our well being. The more food we consume, the more energy we use to digest the food, leaving us little to no energy to flush toxins, or heal what ails us. Cleansing involves even more than just what we are, or are not, ingesting. It allows impurities to dissolve, which ultimately increases our self-knowledge and awareness. We feel more awake and connected with everything, and everyone around us. It is a physical, mental, and spiritual experience, and there is nothing better to couple this with than yoga. This can only add and heighten the entire experience.”
Ryan advises cleansing as a strategy to give your digestive track a timeout. She says it can give your body a chance to purify and rid itself of toxins that rest in the joints and fat cells. But she warns the transition in and out of a cleanse and what you eat after is critical. If you’re on medication or have existing conditions, you should check on those first.
“Cleansing gives your body a break from the work of digesting normal meals, so that the liver, colon and other organs who participate in the digestive process can spend their energy clearing out what has accumulated in the body,” says Ryan. “Think about email: if our inbox is always filling up, what’s down at the bottom has less chance of ever getting dealt with and is perpetually postponed. Our bodies do the same thing. Without taking an intentional time out from eating though, that digestive tract break never comes.”
King describes his cleanse as a life-changer. According to him, the profound effects of a cleanse are felt because of the lack of any other foods. The lack of fiber contributes to giving your liver a break from producing bile and restore itself during its rest.
“Drinking the garden is a wonderful way to delivery dense nutrients to the system,” says King. “Juice is so readily bio-available. Because it doesn’t need to be digested, it immediately impacts the brain and nervous system. You can literally feel the increase in energy and well being right away. Having been a juice chef for 23 years, you could say I have a special relationship with the process. Equipment certainly plays a role in creating a premium product. I work on a hydraulic cold press which gently applies 18,000 lbs of pressure to gently press the cell wall to release the greatest concentration of nutrients–unlike most juice machines, which spin and cut and incorporate lots of oxygen and heat to the process. Through our method we have a product that is very stable with little or no degradation for 48 hours under refrigeration.”
Dahm makes fresh juice, organic and raw foods daily with her partner Emily Kunz and their team at Choice Health Bar, but they are avid shoppers of produce island-wide. She knows the challenges first-hand of procuring and serving fresh veggies and fruits but feels that our community could probably use some creative help with ideas on how to utilize these ingredients too to assist a change in the current paradigm.
“Farmers markets and health food stores are doing the best they can to provide a fair price to make that kind of food appealing to the people,” says Dahm. “Many people don’t realize how easy it is to make fresh, healthy food that tastes really good. Especially here in Hawaii, we’re so lucky to have the most primo selection of island produce from which to fashion delicious meals. Maybe what people need is more inspiration and ideas on how to use the fresh ingredients right under their nose, as well as a change in the food economy where healthy living and eating is a genuine possibility for everyone.”
Body Alive Yoga & r.i.p.e. yoga and cleanse combo–Bodyaliveyoga.com
Glow Juice Cleanse–Glowjuicemaui.com
Samana Wellness Retreats–hawaii-yoga-retreats.com/
Choice Health Bar–1087 Limahana Pl., Lahaina, 808-661-7711