Not all food is created equal. In fact not all that we perceive to be food is in fact food as we’ve known it for thousands of years prior to this last century in particular. It all started with the refining process, great for gold and motor oils, not so good when it comes to what we eat for nourishment.

Depending on how you grow and process something can mean the difference between life and death. Sounds dramatic but our dramatic increase in lifestyle and food related diseases has become responsible for millions of slow painful deaths. Ask any family member who’s watched a loved one die of heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

Food in its natural state contains thousands of compounds that have the power to nourish, energise and protect us. Many plants have more substances in them that are toxic to humans so we avoid those as foods and in some cases use them for medicines.

There is a point in which a natural food can be processed to removing the naturally occurring plant nutrients to create a ‘pure’ product very similar to how you take opium sap and turn it into heroin or coca leaves and turn it into cocaine. Recently respected institution’s like Scripps and Rodale have done extensive research, paper reviews and studies to confirm that refined sugar is as addictive to the body as cocaine and heroin.

When you see how refined sugar is made, it makes perfect sense. As a chef I remember studying how refined sugar was made and was stunned at how many processes the natural plant goes through to create the pure white crystalline product that makes it so versatile and addictive.

The best way to explain this dangerous transformation from good to deadly is to look at the poppy flower. If you take poppy sap out of the flower it has opiates in it. Dry it out, grind it into a little paste and consume this very natural substance; it would actually give you a feeling of well being. It’s not a highly addictive substance in its natural state, nor is it highly toxic to the body.

But this same poppy sap when highly processed, using heat, toxic chemicals, removing macro and micronutrients, changes its molecular structure creating opium. This once natural substance then becomes addictive and more toxic to the body.

Process it even further using extreme processing, heat, chemicals and removing almost all of the macro and micronutrients and you create a pure white substance in the form of heroin which is even more addictive and more toxic to the body. If you look at the process and how we create many modern day foods including grains, oils, salt, sugars, and chemicals, the process is remarkably similar.

When we eat foods processed this way, the body takes this food into it without the macro or micro nutrients. If it did contain these essential nutrients most of the chemicals would be removed. So the body is eating a food that’s nutrient diminished. The body communicates to you saying, “I am not getting what I want, feed me more.” And because the macro nutrients have been removed you can actually eat more of them. In fact if you take a food just even one step away from nature, and cook it, you can eat more of that food. Which is why it is vital to have living foods in every meal.

This extreme processing not only robs us of vital nutrients, compels us to eat more, it also puts highly toxic and even addictive substances into our bodies through our foods creating the cycle of addiction.

The difficulty for many is giving up foods that create such a strong compulsion in us to eat them due to the drug like, addictive effect on the body. In our world of stress, pain, and negativity who really wants to give up anything that makes us feel good?

In Return to Food, I discuss how we can make this transition with less intense feelings of deprivation and to find sources of feeling good from healthier sources that are more natural. Simply look at the splendid colours in a rainbow, or listen to the calming, gentle, gurgling of a brook, when you gaze in amazement at the twinkling stars, and the surreal colours of a simple flower the truth is clear. Man cannot outdo Mother Nature. Nature offers and supplies what is simple, pure, and good for us.