Thursday, October 20, 2011

'Tis The Season





At first glance it appears that modern technology has benefitted us in every aspect of our lives. Advances in medical procedures have enabled doctors to perform surgeries to correct or reverse conditions that used to be considered “lost causes”, the ability to communicate with someone on the other side of the world – instantaneously via video chat – has shrunk our world and exposed us to a plethora of cultures and ideas, foods and products that used to only be available during certain times of the year are now a simple car-ride down the street to the nearest super store.  Are all of our technological advances beneficial? Are there any benefits to lessening our dependence on technology and tuning in to the natural world a little more? 


The sun sets earlier this time of year, yet we can stay awake for hours afterward, thanks to the invention of the light bulb.  We can entertain ourselves for hours after dark with computers, TVs, video games and eBooks, never needing to succumb to boredom and go to bed early.  The weather gets chilly and, unlike the animals that begin to slow down, we pick up our pace - going from school activities to sporting events to indoor entertainment hour after hour, day after day, night after night.  We want summer fruits, so we go to the store and get them, where they've been shipped from all over the world, never leaving us at the mercy of the seasonal foods of our region.  Rather than looking at the end of October as a time to slow our pace, we celebrate this time with a big binge on candy, then pick up our already frantic pace and dash wildly into the "holiday season" with parties and trips and events... still, the days keep getting shorter, our nights longer, and we continue to be “above” the whims of nature...

Really?

Although society’s independency on nature may seem like a concern only to the counter-culture environmentalists and “granola-crunchers”, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about their health; anyone who has ever been frustrated with missing school or work due to something as universal as the common cold. Is it any wonder that during this time when every living creature (plant as well as animal) on this planet, other than man, must obey the patterns of nature that brings them into a slower pace, we keep going - thumbing our noses at those "less technological" cues like sunrise and sunset, temperatures and seasonally available foods - AND we just happen to sail ourselves right into what has been dubbed "cold and flu season"?  While I am not proposing that everyone turn out their lights and rely exclusively on the foods grown on your local farms year 'round, I think we could all benefit from observing nature, taking some hints, implementing some in our own lives, and experimenting with how they work for us.  Did you know that sugar weakens your immune system?  Adequate sleep and vitamin-A rich seasonal foods like squash and pumpkins boost it (these sweet vegetables also help to satisfy our natural craving for sweet foods, helping us resist the urge to binge on holiday sweets).  Healthy fats found in nuts help to satiate our appetites that often cause us to crave creamy foods like ice cream, frostings and fudge.  You just might be surprised - this might be the year that you are not bed-ridden with the flu (in spite of that "savior", the ever-popular flu shot), you aren't suffering from one cold after another, and maybe, just maybe, you don't end up at the mercy of the winter blues come January and February.

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