Yes, according to Peter Burwash, and we are doing it with the food we eat. Burwash, a well known name in the tennis industry for the past thirty years, feels that we have become a society addicted to food that is unhealthy, ages us prematurely and does "irreparable damage to our planet."
A former touring professional, Peter Burwash made his name as the founder and president of Peter Burwash International, a tennis management firm which supplies teaching professionals to clubs and resorts throughout the world.
Burwash has taught tennis in over 137 countries, but his impact has stretched far beyond the confines of the tennis world. He has authored eight books and established himself throughout the world as one of the leading experts in areas such as leadership, service, motivation and yes, health and nutrition.
Burwash and I talked extensively at the end of last year about a variety of subjects. One such subject was nutrition. A dedicated carnivore for the first twenty-five years of his life, Burwash's nutritional education began on a beach in Hawaii.
He had been throwing a frisbee with a friend and accidently struck a man on the head. Upon apologizing, he learned that the man was a doctor and during the course of their conversation, the doctor asked Burwash what he did for a living. Upon learning that Burwash was a professional athlete, the talk turned toward nutrition. The doctor invited Burwash to attended a seminar on preventative medicine the next day. Though very skeptical, Burwash attended the seminar, and what he heard that day changed his life forever.
"I walked out of that symposium with an understanding and a commitment to never eat meat, fish, poultry or eggs again," said Peter. The doctor's words had piqued Burwash's interest and he became a student of nutrition. He read, attended lectures, and even visited a slaughterhouse, all of which brought him to the realization that "proper nutrition is the crown jewel of all health."
Burwash slowly began to make the transition from the traditional American diet of meat to one of vegetarianism. That was thirty years ago, long before it became "trendy," and he has never looked back. Soon after changing his dietary habits Burwash was voted the fittest athlete in Canada. He defended that title several times.
Burwash became an expert in the field of health and nutrition and outlined his nutritional evolution in the fabulous book titled Total Health.
HOW WE ENDED UP WHERE WE ARE:
We have become a society dedicated to "materialism and instant gratification," says Peter Burwash. And this need for the "quick fix" has spilled over into our nutritional habits.
Food has become one of our countries biggest business's and, as in any business, profit is the main priority. As a result, the food industry has shifted it's concern away from nutritional benefits, toward a strictly bottom line approach with the result breeding a nutritionally deficient, unhealthy way of life for millions of Americans.
Unfortunately our nutritional "disaster" has impacted other countries around the world. "America sets an example for the world as far as cultural habits are concerned," says Burwash. "The rest of the world copies the "good" and the "bad" of American culture. Under the "bad" falls the dietary habits of the American population."
Burwash points out the great number of fast food chains opening in other countries. "Most of our children are living on instant junk and we are channeling these eating programs to other nation's children."
"In a survey of Japanese boys and girls it was found that the girls top two food choices were hamburgers and ice cream; the boys opted for pork and ice cream," continues Peter. "Japanese adults who convert to a Western diet suffer coronary disease at the same rate as Americans after only a few years. The fat, balding Asian male was a rarity until the recent introduction of the fat-laden, hormone laced, American diet."
Again, food has become big business and the major concern for the food companies is profit not health. "Sophisticated marketing campaigns, coupled with a lack of good nutritional education in the schools, means that unhealthy and undesirable eating habits are established early in life. Children are overpowered by commercials on TV and as adults, we remain trapped in a cocoon of believing that there is a fix it pill or drug for all of our ills," says Burwash in Total Health.
In other words we are being told through advertising what we should eat and it doesn't matter if it isn't good for us. "Less than 3% of the ads on TV are for nourishing foods," says Burwash.
WHERE DOES OUR FOOD COME FROM?
Twenty million animals are slaughtered daily in the United States for our consumption, says Burwash. I'll spare you the details of his description of a visit to a slaughterhouse but suffice to say that the sight of a lamb being shot in the head or a cow being murdered by a sledgehammer so that they can be shipped to a supermarket had a major impact on Burwash.
The meat that we eat comes from animals who are bred to be slaughtered. They are kept in horrific conditions, packed so tightly that they cannot move, hungry, thirsty, existing in and often feeding on, their own waste. The conditions are not any better for the chicken, lamb or fish that make our mouths water.
"Because of the tight confinement of animals, disease is easily spread among them, so antibiotics are introduced. When we later eat these animals we are also ingesting these antibiotics."
Ironically, Burwash points out that "before a meat-eating person even tries a certain antibiotic, he may already have built up an immunity to it." A frightening statistic offered by Burwash; "today, more antibiotics are used by farmers than doctors.
THE BUSINESS SIDE:
The food industry, like any other business, has a product to sell and the more product they can move the more money they'll make. "With profit as the motive, it is important to turn over your inventory," says Peter Burwash.
"Factory farms where the animals are processed want to induce growth so that they can fatten their animals up sooner and sell them. How do they do this? With hormones. The wide-spread use of antibiotics, hormones and other drugs to offset disease-promoting conditions as well as to boost production, is prevalent in the Western World. And who is the ultimate recipient of these drugs? Us, is it any wonder why our bodies are so toxic?"
Contrary to popular opinion, Burwash says that "humans have no physical need whatsoever to eat meat. People eat meat because their taste buds crave it. It is convenient or it is a habit--a part of their culture."
As a final word on our love of meat, I'll offer you Peter Burwash's description of where two of America's favorite foods, the hamburger and hot dog come from as they appear in Total Health. "If you ever saw a hamburger or hot dog being made from start to finish, only the most hardened of individuals would allow it to their lips. What makes the hamburger and hot dog such a risk is that bits and pieces of many cows go into it. Anything goes into it...the list includes guts and their secretions, organs, entrails, blood clots, toenails, scraps, intestinal matter, and abscesses, plus generous helpings of antibiotics and insecticides." UMMMMMMM.
"Processed food is actually destroyed food," says Burwash. "The food is altered and devitalized. Nearly every vital element is removed, eliminated or destroyed. It is laden with salts, sugars, preservatives, flavorings and stabilizers. Look at the labels."
This is done to make the food more tasty, more physically appealing and to preserve its shelf life so that it can be sold. "We are selling poisonous products disguised as consumer products. It is a nutritional nightmare, yet processed foods are convenient and our selection of food today is determined by convenience and availability," says Burwash.
"Processed foods save us time--short term. We get our foods on the table quicker, but long term these processed foods erode our health."
Burwash feels that our nutritional habits lead us to eat ourselves into a diseased state. We become sick and then go to someone else, the doctor, to fix it. The doctor then does his job one of two ways; surgery or pills. "It's much easier to land ourselves in the doctor's office after sufficiently abusing our body and say "Okay Doc, fix me up," says Burwash.
"People with the coffee and donut lifestyle go to the doctor, get treatment and then return to their old habits. It becomes a vicious cycle. This is why one third of what we eat today keeps us alive and the other two thirds keep the doctors alive."
Medicine today is also big business. "It is a sickness business, the sicker you are the more money your doctor makes. Insurance will pay the doctor $35,000.00 when they perform a heart surgery but when your doctor spends a half hour talking to a patient about lifestyle changes that will improve their health the insurance will usually not cover the $100.00 visit."
"Modern medicine applies a lot of band aids by treating symptoms of disease rather than studying and understanding real causes," says Burwash. "Until recently," he continues, "nutrition had not been considered responsible for causing specific diseases." However, Burwash states that, quite to the contrary, the causes of many of our illness's can be directly linked to our nutrition, or lack of it.
While we've all heard the old adage, "you are what you eat," most of us simply pass it off as just that, an old adage. According to Peter Burwash we'd better start paying attention!!!
Next month: A BETTER WAY