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21. List of the most natural and ethical foods for humans

Our blog about which foods are natural and ethical to eat has undergone a fair investigation, and I’ve come up with a list. It’s been very interesting going through all these types of food that humans eat and trying to work out whether they are natural and ethical food for humans.

Natural means that the human primate does not need any weapons, tools or cookware to gather or prepare the food, other than sticks, stones and perhaps fire, and ethical means that the least harm has been done to the food source and its future sustainability, and that humans themselves are not harmed in any way.

 

The list

 

NATURAL ETHICAL FOODS

FOOD

If food
source is alive when food harvested

If food
source is found already dead from natural causes before harvesting

 

NATURAL

ETHICAL

NATURAL

ETHICAL

 

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

FRUIT

SEEDS

NUTS

LEGUMES

GRAINS

FLOWERS

LEAVES

PLANT STEMS

ROOTS

HONEY

EGGS

INSECTS

SHELLFISH

FISH

POULTRY/BIRDS

LAMB

PORK

BEEF

DAIRY

KEY
(W=wild sustainable; O=organic or biodynamic sustainable production; C=conventional production)

NATURAL

NOT NATURAL

ETHICAL

NOT ETHICAL

 

For the person who wants to do the least possible harm, the only food to eat is fruits: apples, squashes, bananas, pineapples, beans, peas, peaches, raspberries, cucumbers, avocados … the list is long. It is the food group that, according to fruitarians, gives humans all the nourishment they need.

watermelon-846357_640

The next step down is to include plucked leaves from living plants, allowing them to remain alive and still thriving. This includes many types of salad leaves, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, chard and so forth. It’s also fine to eat nuts, seeds, grains and pulses from plants that have either already discarded the seeds, or plants that have died naturally.

Then, eating stems, flowers and roots of plants is also ethical if the plants have already died or, if by gathering these parts, the plant is not harmed and continues to thrive, or if there are enough plants to ensure the sustainability of the species. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, elder flowers, celery and various other plants fall into this category.

Finally, eggs from poultry or birds that are wild or organically farmed and truly free range is ethical, providing sustainability is taken into account (the wild) and that no chicks are killed. In this day and age, it would be very difficult to find a source that meets these requirements.

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Any other food is not ethical to eat unless it has already been found dead from natural causes. You will need to decide on how high up the ethical ladder you want to climb.

The above list is very close to what our cousins the apes eat, and since their digestive systems are practically identical to ours, we are back where we started

What do you think? Do you agree that we should limit our foods to leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, grains and fruit?

Next post: Is cooked food good or bad?

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List of the most natural and ethical foods for humans

The big question: which foods are natural and ethical to eat, has undergone a fair investigation, and I’ve come up with a list. It’s been very interesting going through all these types of food that humans eat and trying to work out whether they are natural and ethical food for humans.

Natural means that the human primate does not need any weapons, tools or cookware to gather or prepare the food, other than sticks, stones and perhaps fire, and ethical means that the least harm has been done to the food source and its future sustainability, and that humans themselves are not harmed in any way.

“Hand Holding Red Apple”

“Hand Holding Red Apple” by mikumistock

 

The list

 

NATURAL ETHICAL FOODS

FOOD

If food
source is alive when food harvested

If food
source is found already dead from natural causes before harvesting

 

NATURAL

ETHICAL

NATURAL

ETHICAL

 

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

W

O

C

FRUIT

SEEDS

NUTS

LEGUMES

GRAINS

FLOWERS

LEAVES

PLANT STEMS

ROOTS

HONEY

EGGS

INSECTS

SHELLFISH

FISH

POULTRY/BIRDS

LAMB

PORK

BEEF

DAIRY

KEY
(W=WILD SUSTAINABLE; O=ORGANIC SUSTAINABLE FARMING; C=CONVENTIONAL FARMING)

NATURAL

NOT NATURAL

ETHICAL

NOT ETHICAL

 

For the person who wants to do the least possible harm, the only food to eat is fruits: apples, squashes, bananas, pineapples, beans, peas, peaches, raspberries, cucumbers, avocados … the list is too long. It is the food group that, according to fruitarians, gives humans all the nourishment they need.

The next step down is to include plucked leaves from living plants, allowing them to remain alive and still thriving. This includes many types of salad leaves, kale, brussels sprouts, spinach, chard and so forth. It’s also fine to eat nuts, seeds, grains and pulses from plants that have either already discarded the seeds, or plants that have died naturally.

Then, eating stems, flowers and roots of plants is also ethical if the plants have already died or, if by gathering these parts, the plant is not harmed and continues to live. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, elder flowers, celery and various other plants fall into this category.

Finally, eggs from poultry or birds that are wild or organically farmed and truly free range is ethical, providing sustainability is taken into account (the wild) and that no chicks are killed. In this day and age, it would be very difficult to find a source that meets these requirements.

Any other food is not ethical to eat unless it has already been found dead from natural causes. You will need to decide how high up the ethical ladder you want to climb.

The above list is very close to what our cousins the apes eat, and since their digestive systems are practically identical to ours, we are back where we started

What do you think? Do you agree that we should limit our foods to leaves, flowers, seeds, nuts, grains and fruit?

Next post: Is cooked food good or bad?

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18. Flowers – is it natural and ethical to eat them?

We’re working our way up the structure of plants, asking if it is natural and ethical to eat them. You can check my past posts for other investigations, starting with animal products, but I feel that even plants have to undergo the tests, to be fair.

People eat flowers. Admittedly, they’re not the classic style of flower that you turn into flower arrangements or grow in your garden but, nonetheless, flowers are popular on our plates. According to Mother Nature Network, we can eat 42 types of flowers.

The most popular varieties are cauliflower and broccoli, while some people add nasturtium, calendula and borage flowers to their salads, make wine out of elder flowers and turn pumpkin flowers into fritters.

So, the question is, is it natural and ethical to eat flowers?vegetables-659404_640

Investigation

Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat flowers. Yes, without a doubt. This is a most natural thing to do, and flowers are palatable raw, so they are even easier food to eat than the roots or stems or even the leaves of some plants.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

As we discussed in this post  it’s not clear whether plants feel pain. One criterion we decided on was to avoid killing the plant, as this would cause the most harm. Plucking leaves off is acceptable, providing the plant has enough to continue growing. In fact, many plants grow in a way that they regenerate quickly and seem to be designed to be browsed on.

So, in terms of whether the plant suffers harm, eating flowers is less harmful than eating the roots, which may necessitate killing the plant. But, what about regeneration? Obviously, flowers are necessary to ensure the development of seed, so that the plant species survives.

The way it looks is that the least harmful way of eating flowers is to ensure that only a few flowers from each plant are harvested. This is not too difficult to do in a home-grown garden. If you cut flowers off a broccoli plant, it simply grows new ones until seed has set, and then it stops. Commercial operations rip up the whole plant to harvest the head.

Or, you can leave some of your plants to seed, as most plants develop huge quantities of seed.

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b) Has it had the best life possible?

Here I will repeat what I said in the post about eating roots:

Plants that live naturally without being poisoned by pesticides, fungicides and artificial fertilizers should be living the best life possible. Bose found that administering poisons to tin, zinc, and platinum, and obtained astonishing responses which, when plotted on a graph, appeared precisely like those of poisoned animals.

c) Is this food good for us?

Yes, edible flowers are good for us. Some believe that broccoli is the world’s healthiest food. It can  lower cholesterol, is great for detoxing, it’s full of vitamins A and K which help maintain out vitamin D balance and, because it’s a rich source of kaempferol, it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also high in vitamin C, chromium and folate as well as a huge range of other vitamins and minerals.

Final verdict  in my opinion

Flowers are good for you. Eating them is natural and ethical, providing you make sure enough plants bear seed, allowing the species to survive and thrive.

What do you think?

Next post: seeds

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Flowers – is it natural and ethical to eat them?

We’re working our way up the structure of plants, asking if it is natural and ethical to eat them. You can check my past posts for other investigations, starting with animal products, but I feel that even plants have to undergo the tests, to be fair.

Romanesco Cauliflower

Romanesco Cauliflower by James Barker http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

People eat flowers. Admittedly, they’re not the classic style of flower that you turn into flower arrangements or grow in your garden but, nonetheless, flowers are popular on our plates. According to Mother Nature Network, we can eat 42 types of flowers.

The most popular varieties are cauliflower and broccoli, while some people add nasturtium, calendula and borage flowers to their salads, make wine out of elder flowers and turn pumpkin flowers into fritters.

So, the question is, is it natural and ethical to eat flowers?

Investigation
Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat flowers. Yes, without a doubt. This is a most natural thing to do, and flowers are palatable raw, so they are even easier food to eat than the roots or stems or even the leaves of some plants.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

As we discussed in this post  it’s not clear whether plants feel pain. One criterion we decided on was to avoid killing the plant, as this would cause the most harm. Plucking leaves off is acceptable, providing the plant has enough to continue growing. In fact, many plants grow in a way that they regenerate quickly and seem to be designed to be browsed on.

So, in terms of whether the plant suffers harm, eating flowers is less harmful than eating the roots, which may necessitate killing the plant. But, what about regeneration? Obviously, flowers are necessary to ensure the development of seed, so that the plant species survives.

The way it looks is that the least harmful way of eating flowers is to ensure that only a few flowers from each plant are harvested. This is not too difficult to do in a home-grown garden. If you cut flowers off a broccoli plant, it simply grows new ones until seed has set, and then it stops. Commercial operations rip up the whole plant to harvest the head.

Or, you can leave some of your plants to seed, as most plants develop huge quantities of seed.
b) Has it had the best life possible?

Here I will repeat what I said in the post about eating roots:

Plants that live naturally without being poisoned by pesticides, fungicides and artificial fertilizers should be living the best life possible. Bose found that “administering poisons to tin, zinc, and platinum, and obtained astonishing responses which, when plotted on a graph, appeared precisely like those of poisoned animals.”
c) Is this food good for us?

Yes, edible flowers are good for us. Some believe that broccoli is the world’s healthiest food. It can  lower cholesterol, is great for detoxing, it’s full of vitamins A and K which help maintain out vitamin D balance and, because it’s a rich source of kaempferol, it acts as an anti-inflammatory. It’s also high in vitamin C, chromium and folate as well as a huge range of other vitamins and minerals.

Marigold flower

Marigold – Health From Nature by sattva – http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Final verdict – my opinion:

Flowers are good for you. Eating them is natural and ethical, providing you make sure enough plants bear seed, allowing the species to survive and thrive.

What do you think?

Next post: seeds

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17. Brussels sprouts – is it natural and ethical to eat them?

Hello and welcome back to the food investigation.

Is it natural and ethical to eat the leaves of plants such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, cress, chard and Brussels sprouts?

This may seem like a crazy question if you have not been following this blog, but, it’s just another step in our ongoing investigation into whether the types of foods that humans eat are natural to eat, and also, whether it’s ethical to eat them.

The reason I’m doing this is because I believe that much of the harm done on Earth, including the compromised health of the planet, humans, animals and plants, is a lot to do with our attitudes towards our food

We’ve covered food derived from animals, and are working out way up to the top of plants, having started from the roots

Investigation

Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) grow, gather and eat plant leaves?vegetables-1125420_1280

Yes, definitely. Picking leaves off plants and eating them is the simplest and most natural thing in the world. Most animals eat leaves, even lions.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

Some people believe that plants feel pain This is a tricky one. Obviously, any pain plants feel doesn’t manifest in the same way as when animals feel pain. There’s no obvious trauma. There’s no blood. So, this is a decision you have to make depending on your own beliefs. But, I believe that the least harm you inflict, the better.

So, it’s better to nip off leaves so that the plant carries on living and is able to, at some stage, produce seeds and die naturally, than to cut off or pull up the whole plant in order to eat its leaves.

However, some plants are so prolific that you could argue that nature has designed them to be eaten, and providing a certain percentage of the plants are left to produce seeds to make up for those eaten, this also works.

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b) Has it had the best life possible?

Only plants that are living naturally in the wild, or grown biodynamically or organically can have had the best life possible.

c) Is this food good for us?

Yes, without a doubt, plant leaves are good for us. They contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Dark green leaves have a higher concentration of nutrients than any other food.

Our human primate ancestors would have eaten kilograms of leaves daily. This would mean that they would have browsed, much as gorillas do, constantly, in order to consume several shopping bags worth of leaves. We barely eat a hundredth of this amount. And very little of it is raw. It’s no wonder the human race is so ill.

Here you can watch a gorilla eating leaves:

You’ve heard this before: kale is the new beef! Eat it and be well.

Final verdict in my opinion

Plant leaves offer some of the best nutrition for humans, providing enough are eaten. They are natural, and certainly ethical, especially if care is taken to either pick leaves off a living plant, or ensure that enough plants are left to produce seeds in a sustainable manner.

What do you think?

Next post: flowers

 

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Brussels sprouts – is it natural and ethical to eat them?

Is it natural and ethical to eat the leaves of plants such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, cress, chard and Brussels sprouts?

Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts

This may seem like a crazy question if you have not been following this blog, but, it’s just another step in our ongoing investigation into whether the types of foods that humans eat are natural to eat, and also, whether it’s ethical to eat them.

The reason I’m doing this is because I believe that much of the harm done on Earth, including the compromised health of the planet, humans, animals and plants, is a lot to do with our attitudes towards our food.

We’ve covered food derived from animals, and are working out way up to the top of plants, having started from the roots.

Investigation
Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) grow, gather and eat plant leaves?

Yes, definitely. Picking leaves off plants and eating them is the simplest and most natural thing in the world. Most animals eat leaves, even lions.

Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

Some people believe that plants feel pain. This is a tricky one. Obviously, it doesn’t manifest in the same way that animals feel pain. There’s no obvious trauma. There’s no blood. So, this is a decision you have to make depending on your own beliefs. But, I believe that the least harm you inflict, the better.

So, it’s better to nip off leaves, so that the plant carries on living and is able to, at some stage, produce seeds and die naturally, than to cut off or pull up the whole plant in order to eat its leaves.

However, some plants are so prolific that you could argue that nature has designed them to be eaten, and providing a certain percentage of the plants are left to produce seeds to make up for those eaten, this also works.

b) Has it had the best life possible?

Only plants that are living naturally in the wild, or grown biodynamically or organically can have had the best life possible.

c) Is this food good for us?

Yes, without a doubt, plant leaves are good for us. They contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Dark green leaves have a higher concentration of nutrients than any other food.

Our human primate ancestors would have eaten kilograms of leaves daily. This would mean that they would have browsed, much as gorillas do, constantly, in order to consume several shopping bags worth of leaves. We barely eat a hundredth of this amount. And very little of it is raw. It’s no wonder the human race is so ill.

Here you can watch a gorilla eating leaves:

You’ve heard this before: kale is the new beef! Eat it and be well.

Final verdict – my opinion:

Plant leaves provide the best food for humans, providing enough are eaten. They are natural, and certainly ethical, especially if care is taken to either pick leaves off a living plant, or ensure that enough plants are left alone to produce seeds in a sustainable manner.

What do you think?

Next post: flowers

Image attribution:  “Brussels sprout closeup” by Eric Hunt – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brussels_sprout_closeup.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Brussels_sprout_closeup.jpg

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15. Carrots – is it natural and ethical to eat them?

Welcome back to the natural and ethical food investigation.

Is eating the roots of plants natural and ethical? We’ve had a look at most of the foods we eat that are produced by animals, and have found that nearly all of them are unethical food sources, and that

A bunch of carrots held up high

freedigitalphotos.net/ – Carrots Aloft by Simon Howden

most are not natural for the human primate to eat.

So, now we’ve moved on to the plant world. I’m sure some would say that eating plants is ethical, so why are we questioning it. But, in the interests of consistency and truth, the investigation must continue through all the food types. You never know until you look closely, whether something is the way you think it is.

We’re starting from the bottom, that is, plant roots such as carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beetroot, licorice, ginger and cassava. Included are rhizomes, corms and tubers.

I wonder how many people have never eaten a carrot. Some may hate them for being soggy and grey after too much cooking (memories from my childhood) but others may love them for their crispy, bright freshness eaten raw (more memories from my childhood – carrots stolen from the garden).

But, I would think it rare for anyone to not have eaten the root of a plant in some form or other, whether raw, freshly cooked, canned, powdered (ginger) or desiccated.

Investigation

Is it natural?

Can we (human primates, equipped only with our bodies and natural items such as rocks, sticks, soil, fire, etc) gather, prepare and eat the roots of plants?

In the wild, or from our gardens, there must be hundreds of plants whose roots are staple foods, or delicacies, or have healing properties – or all three. Roots are relatively easy to get at, and can be pulled out by the stem of the plant, or dug out using hands or a stick.

Most roots are edible raw, but some are more palatable cooked, which the human primates could do if they had access to fire, by putting the roots into the coals.

So, yes, eating roots is natural.

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Is it ethical?

a) Has it suffered the least harm?

This is a tricky one. The root itself may not feel any pain or discomfort. Modern science has not yet discovered any signs of a nervous system in the roots of plants that could show that plants have a consciousness of pain.

However, certain schools of thought believe that plants do feel some distress when damaged. Whether or not this equates to pain as we understand it, it certainly gives me pause for thought.

For example, the Indian scientist, Jagadish Chandra Bose discovered that “every plant and every part of a plant appeared to have a sensitive nervous system and responded to shock by a spasm just as an animal muscle does” (1).

Watch this video that proves that plants feel something:

The International Laboratory of plant Neurobiology (ILPN) says: “Plants are as sophisticated in behaviour as animals but their potential has been masked because it operates on time scales many orders of magnitude less than that operating in animals” (2)

There is also the point of view of people subscribing to The Forum dedicated to Arunachala and Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi:

“Now there are two reasons to say that vegetarian food is having insignificant sin. Many of the plants like rice, wheat, etc are having life only for one crop time. Once their yield is over, they die naturally, even if we don’t cut them. So by cutting those plants (which have already died) we are doing less sin or no sin at all. In many other plants, like mango, coconut, etc., by plucking the fruit, we are not killing the plants, & are doing very minimal sin or no sin at all. So vegetarian food is less sinful.”

So, you must make up your own mind about this. In short, the way I see it is that if the plant has already died, or if the seed, nut or fruit has fallen from the plant or is no longer dependent upon it, then you should be able to eat the parts, including the root,  without causing harm.

Therefore, ripping up a carrot plant, or any plant, is unethical if it is still alive and has not yet had a chance to produce seed.

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b) Has it had the best life possible?

Plants that live naturally without being poisoned by pesticides, fungicides and artificial fertilisers should be living the best life possible. Bose found that “administering poisons to tin, zinc, and platinum, and obtained astonishing responses which, when plotted on a graph, appeared precisely like those of poisoned animals.”

c) Is this food good for us?

Most root vegetable are storage organs so contain high amounts of complex carbohydrates, minerals absorbed from the soil (only good organic soil feeds plants well), and are high in vitamin C and beta carotene. This is all good food for humans.

Final verdict in my opinion

Root vegetables are natural food, and eating them is ethical only if they can be sourced without killing the plant, such as with potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams and ginger, and depending upon whether they have been grown organically, or not.

So, root vegetables are borderline.

What do you think?

Next post: plant stems

 

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plant_perception_(paranormal)
  2. http://www.linv.org/about-us/