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Author: Peter La Barre
Title: Nutrition - Food - Diet

The Nature Cure approach to food has its roots in the culture of the European health spas of the nineteenth century. Most of the people treated at these establishments were suffering from excesses of one sort or another. Merely by curtailing these was often sufficient to ensure a cure. They did seem to be able to spend months rather than weeks undergoing the various treatments. Little was known about food values, the main benefit was probably brought about by the reduction of quantity, particularly of the high calorific foods. Lindlahr gathered together many of the strands and created a coherent dietetic system based on the information that was available at the time. Thomson, Saxon, Milton Powell, Lief, (Champneys) Eliot, (Towerlease) all modified Lindlahr's system, for better or for worse. It has now degenerated into the commercial hotch-potch that we see today.

The Kingston Sunday evening 'question time' held in the lounge was dominated by food questions; this was despite the best efforts of JC to divert them in other directions. Unfortunately his son Leslie, who went into meticulous detail concerning the whys and wherefores of various foods in question, frequently subverted JCT's advice - "get your diet right then forget about it". I think that there was a failure to realise that the obtaining of food was our very first priority in life, our first anxiety, our first stress, our first contract with another person, I'll stop giving you a hard time if you feed me. Any interference with the established routine tended to evoke past anxieties.

The current state of affairs in the country is interesting. Never before has there been such a variety of food available at such a low price, and never before has it been subject to so much interference. Nearly ninety per cent of our food is bought from supermarkets. Because of their insistence on uniformity, up to fifty percent is discarded before it leaves the producers. We, the consumers, throw another forty percent of what is bought away. Never has so much food been wasted. As the distance between the producer and consumer is increased the understanding and respect for food is diminished. So also are the cooking skills, despite the explosion of television programmes and the many books on cooking. If we need instruction on how to boil an egg, what chance has a decent omelette got? A sad fact is that only eight per cent of the meals we eat are cooked from scratch, the frozen food and micro wave mentality rules, ably aided and abetted by the advertising agencies. We all know that more food is thrown away by the western world that would keep the third world above starvation level.

It may be desirable for us to grow all our own food, but it is rarely practical to do so. But it is possible to grow some of it. A proportion, however small, that you tend and cultivate will bring home to you some of the inherent difficulties that beset the proficient and amateur gardener alike. It makes us more aware of the mystery of life and the enigmas that confront us when we try to unravel the secrets of nature. Organic supplies can often be expensive and difficult to find. Another source can be the farmer's markets where often the produce is fresher and as nearly organic as makes no difference. Talk to the farmers; they are usually only too happy to tell you their growing methods. Allotments are cool.

Politically successive governments have failed miserably to deal with the 'healthy' food problem. Reports have been commissioned and ignored; incredibly one was lost for two and a half years until a Sunday paper discovered it, (The N.A.C.N.E. Report) and even then none of its recommendations were implemented. Others followed the same fate. The food lobby is very strong, with over two hundred members of parliament and fifty per cent of the government advisors having links with the food industry.

A version of the 'Mediterranean diet' has been promoted for children with the five- a- day campaign; an N.H.S. publication recommends five portions of fruit and / vegetables, of roughly three ounces (80 gms) each to be eaten each day. Unfortunately it offers little advice on what else should or should not be eaten.