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Tree Crops - a Social, Ecological and Dietary Revolution by John Glue (Australia), Vegan Views 74 (Autumn 96)

[Editor's note] Now that veganism is better known to the media and the number of vegans has grown to a noticeable size, it is fruitarianism and raw food eating that is gaining the focus of attention for being way-out. Yet, there is a logic in this diet. After all, apes don't cook their food and mainly live on fresh fruit and green shoots. The following article passed on to VV by the late Wilfred Crone some time ago, gives some very interesting arguments. It is not our purpose to advocate a strict diet of only fruits; however that word may be defined, and we do advise anyone interested in pursuing this to contact one of the raw food organisations. But we would like to stress that vegans (and anyone else) should eat plenty of fruit & veg. (preferably raw) where the vitamins and minerals essential for good nutrition are to be found. Wilfred Crone himself always said one should never be too strict and only claimed to be 90% fruitarian with the rest being vegan food. Vegan Views no. 65 Eat More Fruit and Vegetables gave more details on the need for more Fruit & Veg.

A simple and obvious solution to many of the world's main social and environmental problems that seem to have been totally overlooked by most of the environmental and humanitarian groups, is to encourage people to use tree fruits and nuts in preference to other types of foods. An increased demand for tree foods would give farmers and land owners a real incentive to replant trees - which are so desperately needed today.

All other foods such as cereals, beans, vegetables, meat and milk destroy the environment because they require cutting trees down plus usually the regular ploughing of the land. The land and soil, our most valuable resource, can often only be intensively cultivated or overgrazed for a few years or decades at best before it becomes irreparably damaged and starts to erode away, as can be seen in the ever-expanding dust bowls, deserts and barren landscapes that are relentlessly spreading across the world. For every loaf of bread grown in Australia, 3.5 kg of top soil are lost through soil erosion and North America is losing 4 million acres of farmland each year from soil erosion. If all the soil lost yearly in the U.S. by erosion was loaded on to a modern freight train to be carted away, the train would stretch around the world 18% times.

The clearing and ploughing of the land, which only started about 10,000 years ago in the Middle East, causes a self-perpetuating, ever increasing cycle of soil erosion, spreading deserts, global warming, melting polar icecaps, destabilised weather systems, droughts, floods, famine, poverty, homelessness, mass starvation, disease, refugee problems, species extinction, economic collapse, social upheaval, etc. These tragic problems also lead to war and revolution in the worst affected areas, compounding the suffering, death-toll, and environmental destruction even further, as seen recurringly in Sudan, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, etc. Vast deserts have now formed on the once rich and productive land of Africa, North and South America, Asia, Middle East, Russia, China and Europe, such as the Sahara, Kalahari, Ural, Gobi and Arabian Desert. The Sahel is presently expanding 30 miles yearly on a 2,000 mile front.

In the next 30 years, one third of the world's arable land is expected to be destroyed because of soil erosion, while the population is expected to double to over 10 billion people. Yet the world is not even managing to feed or accommodate its present population with one out of three people either half-starved or starving to death (with 130,000 dying of starvation, or starvation related diseases daily) and one out of five people having nowhere to live. Planting trees can not only stop soil erosion and prevent global warming, by soaking up C02 from the burning of fossil fuels, but they are also the nutritionally richest, most productive source of food of all crops. An acre of pecan, avocado, date or banana trees can produce 7,000; 10,000; 11,500 or 27,000 lbs of fruit respectively while only 170 lbs of beef or lamb can be produced from an acre of land per year. Yet 80% of the world's farm land is being used to feed and accommodate farm animals - with 40% of the world's cereals and legumes being fed to these animals.

Trees can also provide a host of other essential needs such as fresh air, rainwater, building materials, solid and liquid fuels, oils, rubber, plastics, paints, varnishes, resins, glues, soaps, fibres, textiles, paper, biomass, fertilisers, animal foods, medicines, shelter, a habitat for wild life, privacy and beauty, etc.

It is estimated that an area of trees the size of India needs to be replanted immediately to hold the air pollution, smog, greenhouse effect and global warming at the present level. Yet regardless of this, deforestation is still increasing with the last remaining woodlands and rainforests expected to be mostly destroyed in as little as 10 to 20 years, again mainly for the wasteful and inefficient animal farming.

Today in the world there are 20 times as many farm animals as people. The world can no longer support two population explosions. One of people and one of deliberately bred farm animals. Livestock also eat ten times as much food as people and yet only one-tenth of the protein in their feed is made available in their flesh or organs for people to eat. The world could easily support 10 times its present population if they were vegetarian, and 20 times its present population if they were vegan and many more times more people than this if they were fruitarian (i.e. if they were mainly using tree foods).

Annual crop cultivation and animal farming is a destructive, complicated, time consuming, expensive and unproductive form of farming, that is usually heavily reliant on farm machinery and fossil fuels, and usually monopolises the land and food production into the hands of a few wealthy people and businesses. This terrible misuse of the vital resources of the land, people and technology is why so many countries in the world are now facing recession, rising debts and in some cases total economic collapse. In South America 100 people can be supported per square mile by subsistence agriculture whereas only 1 person per 12 square mile can be supported by cattle ranching on the ruined and depleted soil after deforestation.

Returning the ground to trees and to people instead of farm animals or ploughed up fields is even more essential now as many of the world's largest cities are breaking down with overpopulation, pollution, unemployment, poverty, crime and inadequate services. Trees, if grown naturally, can produce food and other necessities for decades or even hundreds of years with a minimum of effort and labour being involved. This would save people from the centuries old drudgery and burden of labouring and toiling in the soil and leave them free time for other more productive and fulfilling activities. People today have to work much harder for their food than virtually any other animal and this wouldn't be necessary if people changed from their present unnatural diet of predominantly cooked grains, beans, vegetables, meat and milk to the naturally intended primate food of mainly fruits and nuts from the bountiful and freely producing fruit and nut trees. Unbeknown to most people, fruits and nuts contain an abundance of all the nutrients (such as proteins, carbohydrates, oils, vitamins and minerals, etc.) that we need to live happily and healthily. Our early ancestors spent around 70 million years living in the trees on a diet of fruits and nuts in the forests of Africa and Asia. Even today in many parts of the world there are people who live and thrive solely on these foods alone, because they are found to be a far superior food.

Also because fruit and nuts can be obtained non-violently, without killing or exploitation, they are thought to bring about a more harmonious attitude and consciousness - helping to replace the recent abhorrent human lust for the death, destruction and exploitation of other people, animals and nature. It is easily observable that those animals that live on fruits and nuts and plants are much less aggressive and territorial than those predatory, scavenging, parasitic animals like humans that live by preying upon and killing other creatures. This may help explain why people are spending £ 1 million every minute worldwide fighting or preparing for war with each other.

Crops like grains, beans, vegetables and meat are also destructive because they usually require from a quarter hour to 3 hours cooking. The earth can no longer support four fifths of its population needing firewood several times a day to do their cooking, because of pollution and because there are few trees left. Or, in the developed world, people are relying on heavily polluting fossil fuel power stations or the nightmarish and inevitably disastrous nuclear power to supply their cooking energy. Fruits and nuts, because they require no cooking preparation or washing up of greasy pots, pans or dishes would also thankfully save women from their traditional, unproductive role of toiling away for hours on end in the kitchen.

Fruits and nuts also require no artificial processing, refining or packaging. Cooking, processing and refining is disastrous because it destroys many of the vital nutrients in food (such as proteins, carbohydrates, minerals, vitamins, oils, enzymes) and turns some of them into extremely toxic, disease-causing mutagens and substances. Food that needs cooking, processing or refining to be made edible or palatable is clearly an unnatural and unintended food for people, as the use of fire for cooking and the use of cooking pots and utensils are a relatively recent invention which the human body hasn't had time to adapt to - and probably never will. Cooked foods, especially of animals, is by far the main cause of sickness and degenerative disease in the world. It causes heart disease and cancer (which kills 2 out of 3 people in the West) plus arthritis, diabetes, osteoporosis, gallstones, appendicitis, tonsilitis, asthma, allergies, varicose veins, migraine, depression, aggression, hypertension, etc. Also rice, the world's main staple crop, is mainly grown in water-logged fields which (apart from eroding the land and hillsides, and producing enormous quantities of the polluting gas methane) also serve as breeding grounds for mosquitos and other parasites which spread malaria, bilharzia, hookworms, sleeping sickness, yellow fever, filariasis, river blindness, etc. There are today 800 million people infected with malaria worldwide, with 300 million dying from it yearly.

Farm animals with their enormous quantities of heavily polluting excreta serve as breeding grounds for flies, fleas, mites, ticks, lice, flukes, tape and round worms and disease spreading organisms which spread sleeping sickness, cholera, typhoid, paratyphoid, typhus, rickettsia diseases, 'Q' fever, chicken pox, small pox, cow pox, anthrax, tetanus, polio, diphtheria, brucellosis, tuberculosis, whooping cough, influenza, pneumonia, bronchitis, meningitis, laryngitis, rheumatic fever, trichinosis, Weil's disease, scarlet fever, dysentery, hepatitis, listeria, salmonella infection, etc. - and now possibly BSE.

Fruits and nuts in comparison are wonderfully life- and health-giving not only because of their superior nutrition, but because of the way they oxygenate, purify, detoxify, and eliminate disease from the body. However, it is strongly advisable to peel any fruits that are not organically grown and have been sprayed with harmful chemicals. Also it is best not to eat fruit and nuts with starchy foods such as bread and potatoes, or rice as this can cause indigestion, flatulence, diarrhoea or various allergic reactions, which often mistakenly makes people think that fruit and nuts are bad for them and that they should not eat them.

Unfortunately, at present, little is being done to promote the vital role that tree crops can have in saving the environment, ourselves and other threatened species - and I wonder why? What's more, there is nothing more delicious than fruit and nuts. It is imperative that we support the earth and trees and by using tree food whenever we can, instead of environmentally, socially and personally destructive grains, beans, vegetables, meat and milk. Each year, more and more people are desperately needing and wanting to return to the land to live and support themselves. This they could do more easily, effectively and productively from trees.

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Cross-reference: Raw Food Diet