A debate on diet and violence (1)
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4. A COMMUNITY IS WHAT IT EATS
Food affects behavior. For example, cultures that produce epic poetry
consume dairy products. How do you change a hardened criminal into a
useful citizen? Take away his candy bars. This is not a joke, it's
part of a quiet change in the diet of incarcerated persons in many
parts of the country. It's the result of a groundbreaking study of
what happened when the diet of 276 teenage boys in a Virginia
detention center was altered to exclude the huge amounts of white
sugar they'd been eating. After fruit juices replaced colas, and
carrots replaced cookies, antisocial behavior dropped 48% Thefts fell
77%, and assaults dropped 82% Staff members who provided the
information didn't know there was a study underway. While everyone is
responsible for their own behavior, crime may well have a biochemical
basis. A study of 318 Ohio convicts found 252 of them were
malnourished. Those who remained on a new, healthy diet after leaving
jail had few problems with the law. And, in Pierce County,
Washington, adult offenders fed nutritionally wholesome food as part
of an experimental program returned to crime 1/3 as often as the
fellows who'd continued on the standard jailhouse fare.
Alexander Schauss' book Diet, Crime, and Delinquency, states that
malnutrition is the prime cause of criminal behavior. The Myth of
Health in America (Fry, 1976) cites statistics like the following:
only 1.5% of the U.S. population can be considered healthy. The U.S.
is 89th among nations in death rate. Cancer is the number one cause
of disease-related death of children.
Perhaps the most interesting part of America's chronic borderline
malnutrition is increasingly mineral deficient food, which comes from
mineral deficient soil. Consider what happens to pregnant women when
they need a nutrient: they get cravings. But isn't this true for
everyone? What exactly are the "munchies"? One reason Americans tend
to be obese is that if the body doesn't get the nutrition it needs, it
craves more food. If the only food available is empty calories, well,
that's what is eaten. One could consider what role such cravings have
in substance addiction, too. By comparison, Stone Age Nomadics
courses recommend 2/3 cup a day of wild foods, as any more makes one
feel stuffed. America has the good fortune to have access to many
diverse ideas. One of those is traditional Indian [Ayurvedic] and
Oriental medicine. In Ayurvedic medicine, there are 3 major classes
of foods. They are:
Rajasic: fresh flesh, high unsaturated fats, unrefined grains &c.:
this is a high protein diet intended for warriors and laborers who
need physical strength and stamina.
Sattvic: this is essentially a Vegan diet. There are no animal
products. It includes fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes,
roots, nuts and seeds. It is intended for persons interested in more
mental or spiritual pursuits. Tamasic: this class of food is considered undesirable. This
any deep fried food, foods with saturated fats, preservatives, or
poisons, and any stale, mouldy, or otherwise decayed food, overly
sweet and acidic food, and so on. Tamasic diet was believed to lead
to a deterioration in conscience and morality, violent and other
socially undesirable behavior, and breakdown of immune systems as
Oriental medicine would regard Tamasic foods as undesirable, also.
You could watch the evening news, and the accompanying commercials.
You could realize that Heart Disease, which is caused mostly by diet,
kills more Americans than firearms, cars, and several other causes put
together. You could note the interesting rise in immune deficiency
diseases, and perhaps draw your own conclusions. Alcohol and drugs
are involved with over 3/4 of all crimes. We may never be able to
address domestic abuse, for example, without first addressing problems
Getting good food in some areas is difficult. One solution is to form
cooperative groceries. This not only provides better food at lower
prices, it also puts money in people's pockets, as well as offering
them an opportunity to take more control of their lives. We believe
that the following folks may be a helpful resource. There are other
such cooperatives nationwide, you might try Encyclopedia of
Associations in your Public Library.
49 Bennett Dr.
Brattleboro, VT 05304-8188
2100 M. St. NW Suite 403
203 872 5307
Co-Op Resource Center
1442A Walnut St.
Berkeley, CA 94709
510 538 0454
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