Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Food Matters in the Maui Jungalow

Coconuts and bananas at the Queen Ka'ahumanu Farmer's Market

I’m going to give myself permission to be a little off-topic today. The film that I’m going to comment on really has nothing to with the Maui Jungalow or with Maui or with Hawaii, except in a very broad way.  DH and I just watched a recent online screening of Food Matters, and I was very impressed.  It’s only screening free for one week, which is halfway over, meaning it ends on October 8th. After that, you have to get the dvd. It’s not the same film as Food, Inc. which is also worth seeing but talks more about the corporate side of agriculture.

So, why am I going to be off-topic, and is there any way I can tie this subject with Maui or with Maui issues?

I’ve watched several great films on food, cancer, and health.  Two years ago, a good friend arranged a series of food education classes and films at the Temple of Peace in Haiku.  Naturopathic doctor Bonnie Marsh even taught a cooking class featuring locally grown taro, made a Maui style kefir, and shared some recipes using coconut oil.  Coconuts also grow easily here, and are commonly accepted as a healthy food and a “good fat.”

Bonnie Marsh's healthy cooking class at The Temple of Peace.

Maui is a place that promotes healthy thinking, and a lot of people who live upcountry or in other rural areas of Maui take responsibility for their health.  Every other day, someone I know or a friend of a friend is doing a juice fast, a master cleanse, a colonic, an ayurvedic detox program. There is a kombucha café in Haiku tucked around the backside of the “Aloha Aina Center” which also serves raw food.  There is a vegetarian café, Veg Out, which has been there for many years.  There is the macrobiotic Tribe café schoolbus. Even the Studio Maui now has a cafe which serves several raw items and no-wheat items. The Haiku Grocery has gluten-free and organic items. Also, the best health food store on the island, as far as I’m concerned, Mana Foods, is in Paia, which is not upcountry but only 7 miles from Haiku.

Mana Foods - Hey, I'm not the only who likes Mana Foods.

If you go further upcountry, Pukalani Superette has an organic produce section and often labels whether their produce is from Maui or elsewhere. Rodeo General Store in Makawao has a large organic and local section, with raw food items. Even the big mainstream Foodland in Pukalani offers free-range turkeys for Thanksgiving and I’ve been told, will carry various organic food items upon request and will continue to stock them on their shelves if there is enough demand.

So far I have only talked about food, but there are so many doctors and places to get information on health and alternative medicines and disease prevention: Dragon’s Den in Makawao, Temple of Peace, Bonnie Marsh, Margo Gal, Kabba Anand’s acupuncture clinic. Plus there are tons more yoga studios, acupuncture clinics, homeopathic doctors, colon therapy clinics, holistic doctors, and holistic dentists not to mention reiki practitioners and alternative healers.  Even in touristy Kihei, there’s an ayurvedic herb store. There are also some terrific doctors I’m just not naming because they seem to be pretty busy and if you’re reading this and live on Maui, you probably already know who they are.  Plus there are annual raw food and healthy lifestyle events, workshops, conferences… You could do a new workshop or cleansing every day for the rest of your life.

So, going back to the film, Food Matters. This film touches on agriculture, mercury fillings, sustainability, disease prevention, cancer statistics, vitamins, and many bits of health information that any health-conscious Maui jungalow resident would want to know, or to share with their non-jungalow friends.  

A few things that really stood out, from watching it only once:

The cancer survival rate is actually an “engineered” term, defined by the drug companies. If you read a cancer drug study, the “survival rate” usually means the person has survived at least 5 years after the treatment or procedure.  So, one can live 5 years after chemo, and then die 6 months later, and be considered a cancer “survivor” albeit a dead one. I have come across this information in other places, and acquired a book called The Secret History of the War on Cancer which debunks most cancer research and I’m hoping to open its covers – maybe this year. By the way, the classical medical definition of survival rate is the percent of people who survive a disease for a specific amount of time. But usually this is defined as only 5 years.

A drug can go on the market once it has shown that it is more effective than taking a placebo in two clinical trials. It does not have to show the results of all other trials that may not show it to be effective. (I can’t vouch for this from other sources, but it sounds plausible.)  Once the drug is on the market, it gets access to a much wider range of population.  Although the film did not mention it, this is considered Phase IV of drug testing, when it’s available to the general public.  My understanding is that Phase IV lasts 7 years, during which time the drug could be recalled. 

In 20 years, only 10 people have been documented as having died from an overdose of vitamins. But each year, 100,000 people die from correctly taking prescription drugs that have been correctly prescribed by their doctors.  (I haven’t heard this before, but it sounds intriguing.)

The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous was also a good friend of a doctor who told him that 3,000 mg of niacin a day could assist with dealing with depression and alcoholism. This vitamin therapy was effective for him and for others. He wanted AA to endorse vitamin therapy as part of their recommended regimen, but AA was already heavily influenced by the medical industry by then. (Also a new tidbit for me to research.)

Also the film included some clips with David Wolfe, a raw food vocalizer, who is well-regarded on Maui. I even dragged my Dear Husband to a David Wolfe presentation and raw dinner a few years ago at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center.  He’s in several other food documentaries as well.

If you are inspired after watching the film to get your mercury fillings out, Stephen Hubert in Wailuku is expensive but thorough. He even has a special HEPA vacuum to suck out the mercury dust in the air as he’s removing the filling. Another holistic dentist upcountry is Barkley Bastian, although I haven’t tried him yet. 

If nothing else, even if you don’t agree with the film, it’s still provocative and the underlying messages are worth sharing: Learn about good health, pay attention to what you eat, and don’t believe everything the doctor says. 

If you miss the screening this week, then some clips of the documentary also seem to be available on youtube.


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