When I was diagnosed with cancer, my wife and I had to find easy ways to live more healthily. Organic, primarily plant-based food is not a panacea, but 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.
What got us going was a quest for health. What shocked us is how good this healthy, natural food tastes. And let’s face it, healthy foods decrease the risk of mood fluctuations and eases symptoms of depression and anxiety. It gives a person a generally positive outlook.
My gut feel is that the best diet for me is to eat mainly vegetarian without giving up meat and dairy completely. Here are five ways my wife and I have found we can eat healthier, with a primarily plant-based diet, without too much fuss or expense to ourselves or the environment.
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.
Just start. You don’t have to become an overnight farmer.
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 incur zero climate damage. It uses no transport or packaging, and it 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.
The fresh fragrance of homegrown basil transforms relatively drab winter fare.
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 prostate 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. We didn’t have to solve the whole problem ourselves.
4. Buy online, get locally-produced organic food delivered
This is 2021, right? Somebody has thought about this problem and found a solution. In our part of Johannesburg, South Africa, 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 to our doorstep.
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. Easy anti-cancer food without adding too much cost
Yes, when buying organic we are paying a higher price for the same weight or volume of food. But we are getting way more taste and nutrition per portion than when we relied on industrially mass-produced food.
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 at how much difference it makes to eat foods that are properly and naturally grown. I already knew how much better fresh naturally-grown fruit and vegetables (blemishes and all) are than those brightly-coloured perfect looking things one often finds in supermarkets.
Now I am tasting what naturally-raised meat and dairy products taste like and realising I haven’t had these food delights since I was a kid. Even the 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 percent of our meal.
Healthy food brings an incomparable joy dividend.
This post also appears at recoveringman along with more of my personal and medical backstory.
This content was originally published here.