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XI No.10 - Sunday October 21 - Saturday November 3, 2012


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
The Wellness Column
 

An introduction to alternative healthcare

By Anchan Vegetarian
Living in Thailand has brought me closer to traditional healthcare and the use of herbal medicine than ever before in my life. Europe used to possess this knowledge but through the years it has been lost, or replaced by make belief alternatives at best, only to slowly emerge in recent times in non-mainstream movements.
In this new column we will discuss the topic of alternative healthcare on a case by case basis, shedding light on the benefits of this fruit or that herb, sometimes grouped and compared for educational and informational purposes.
The old saying “you are what you eat” holds a lot of truth; it should therefore come as no surprise that the subject of this pilot column will be agriculture.
As realization of the threat to our surroundings became prevalent, sustainability was launched in recent years as one of the key words that apply to many aspects of our daily lives. Sustainable agriculture however has been around much longer, being the original way of farming. Growing vegetable and fruit crops coincided with animal husbandry in an ecologically balanced system following natural patterns, without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Unfortunately the agricultural revolution changed these traditions and in doing so has destroyed priceless knowledge. It was replaced with chemicals leading to a general decrease in soil fertility, creating a downward spiral from which there seemed no escape possible.
But all is not lost as sustainable agriculture is being pushed to the foreground again by several movements and applied by more and more people. Not just individuals but also commercial farmers are making the transition. New ecologically viable systems are being created on a daily basis, the existing ones being rediscovered and maintained or restored. Several examples can be found in South East Asia and Thailand, such as the 300 year old food forest in Vietnam and the new permaculture rice farmers in the North East of Thailand.
One of these movements carries the name permaculture, focusing on sustainable forms of livelihood, of which organic farming and food forests are a big part. This system results in natural soil fertility, pest control and water management, reducing or even eliminating the need for chemical applications and irrigation.
Whether you are a vegetarian or not, over the years research has shown that the quality of the food products you eat does matter. Food scandals keep surfacing on a regular basis all over the world from milk with chemicals over diseased meat to medication with disastrous side effects.
But is organic so much healthier? According to the most comprehensive study to address the question to date, conducted by researchers at the Stanford University in California, the findings do suggest that eating organic foods can reduce the likelihood of consuming pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Conventional produce carries a much higher chance of pesticide contamination when compared to organic vegetables, while nutritional contents showed to be the same for both conventional and organic products.
What amazed me about this study is the enormous paradox contained in its conclusion. It stated that almost no long term research on the health benefits of organic vegetables has been conducted. Yet at the same time they claim that the levels of residual pesticides in conventional produce remains well below the allowed safety limits in most cases. But if no long term research has been conducted, how are these safety limits set? The public should never be asked by the media to blindly accept these results, without questioning who ordered these studies in the first place. As my professor at university used to say when teaching historical criticism, never readily accept what is being said by the media and never believe they say anything without a reason. If you think this is just one more of these loopy conspiracy theories, just have a look at the recent research conducted with GMO produce on rats and the cancers they developed. Especially have a look at the cover up antics and smoke curtain tactics deployed shortly after by this very company.
The truth remains that we live in a consumer based society where over consumption is stimulated and the solution to the ensuing health problems is heralded as one of human’s major achievements. We hold responsibility for our own lives, to live healthy and to maintain a healthy mind in a healthy body. Start with a healthy diet and you will go a long way in avoiding many health related issues.
Let’s work together to a more sustainable future, it doesn’t matter if you’re a farmer or a balcony gardener; everyone can grow something for themselves.
 


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An introduction to alternative healthcare

 

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