Saturday, February 25, 2012

Potato Consumption & Materialistic Thinking

"A...far reaching example, frequently emphasized by Rudolf Steiner is related to potato consumption which has spread and increased enormously in the last few centuries. Steiner explains: "The inner thinking of Europe has been regressing since the moment potato consumption took hold" - now [over] two hundred years. The potato has effects on man opposite to those of sugar, because "it has no relation to the spiritual."
-The Dynamics of Nutrition: The Impulse of Rudolf Steiner’s Spiritual Science for a New Nutritional Hygiene, by Gerhard Schmidt

"The community of potato eaters, still significant in number today, will elicit completely different physical and psychological processes within themselves, which can even be transmitted to their offspring by inheritance. If parents eat too many potatoes, then a human germ develops in which the "soul-spiritual is not properly in the physical body."

Rudolf Steiner actually drew a parallel between increasing potato consumption in the last centuries and a progressively materialistic way of thinking in the European people.

-Quotes from Rudolf Steiner, Lectures to Workers, Dornach, 22nd September 1923

"The potato takes little care of lung and heart. It reaches the head, but only, as I said, the lower head, not the upper head. It does go into the lower head, where one thinks and exercises critical faculties. Therefore, you can see, in earlier times there were fewer journalists. There was no printing industry yet. Think of the amount of thought expended daily in this world in our time, just to bring the newspapers out! All that thinking, it is much too much, it is not at all necessary — and we have to thank the potato diet for that! Because a person who eats potatoes is constantly stimulated to think. He can't do anything but think. That's why his lungs and his heart become weak. Tuberculosis, lung tuberculosis, did not become widespread until the potato diet was introduced. And the weakest human beings are those living in regions where almost nothing else is grown but potatoes, where the people live on potatoes." 

-Rudolf Steiner, Lecture 2, Nutrition and Health.

It is hardly likely that you will ever have listened to sermons on subjects like the respective merits of potatoes or wheat as food! At any rate it will not be your experience that most clergymen think it important to preach about the effect of rye or wheat upon health. They attach no importance to these matters because in their opinion they are not sacred. To pray or to expound the Gospels, that and that alone is sacred according to their way of thinking. ... 

But the Divine is at work in the whole of nature, not only when men pray or converse on the subject of Holy Writ. The Spiritual is an active power in nature. If man prevents the Spiritual from having access to his head because by eating potato food to excess he gives the head too much to do ... well, he may pray, but it will be to no purpose because he has been sidetracked from the Spiritual. That too is something that escapes notice. God did not find the earth as a clod out of which all things were then made; the Divine Power is active everywhere, in every single particle, and it is there that we must seek for its manifestations. But when this is done, the theologians accuse us of materialism!

-Rudolf Steiner
Here is a great alternative to potatoes:
From Hannah Townsend’s review of Ralf Roessner’s book The Light Root in the Autumn 2014 issue of New View magazine (article not online).
To quote from Hannah’s review:
“Rudolf Steiner was apparently just about to depart from the gathering at Koberwitz where he had been giving the course of lectures that would lay the foundation for the development of biodynamic agriculture.....

"As Steiner waited for his car to arrive to take him to the train station, two of the course participants came up to him with a question. They wanted to know whether, if all the indications that he had given were followed, it would be enough to raise the quality of nutrition to give adequate spiritual nourishment for our times. The answer that Steiner gave seems to have been both surprising and direct:

‘It will not be sufficient, even in the most favourable circumstances,’ he said. ‘What should be done is to cultivate Dioscorea batatas in Europe so that it can take over from the potato as the staple diet…’ ”


888 said...

The other problem is that they contain the poison solanine, which is particularly harmful for pregnant women. That is why you should never eat green potatoes or the eyes.

888 said...

Jerusalem Artichokes are a great alternative to potatoes. They are high in inulin: "Inulin enhances the growth and activities of selected beneficial bacteria or inhibits growth or activities of certain pathogenic bacteria, hence promoting colonic health."

Once you start growing them it is hard not to stop, as they do grow like weeds. The Jerusalem comes from a mishearing of girasole- to turn with the sun.

888 said...

In 1924, the gifted scientist and colleague of Rudolf Steiner, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, asked him, “How can it happen that the spiritual impulse for which you are constantly providing stimulus and guidance bear so little fruit? Why is the will for action for carrying out of these spiritual impulses so weak?”
Rudolf Steiner tried to tell us when he replied, “This is a problem of nutrition. Nutrition as it is today does not supply the strength necessary for manifesting the spirit in physical life. A bridge can no longer be built from thinking to will and action. Food plants no longer contain the forces people need for this.”

888 said...

"On the other hand, when we eat potatoes or potato-bread, the head has to cope with the actual digestion. But when the head has to be employed primarily for the digestion of the potatoes, it becomes incapable of thinking in the real sense, because in order to think its forces must be kept free; the abdomen should relieve it of the task of digestion. So if potatoes are eaten in excessive quantities ... this is a habit which has been steadily on the increase since the potato was introduced as an important foodstuff in Europe ... the head is gradually thrown out of gear for the purpose of really active thinking and little by little man loses the capacity to think with the middle part of his brain; he thinks, then, only with the front part of the brain — which is dependent on the salts. This tends more and more to make him a purely intellectual, materialistic thinker. The front part of the brain is incapable of genuinely spiritual thinking. It is through the front part of the brain that man becomes intellectualistic.

"What has happened is that really deep and inward thinking began to wane in Europe from the moment the potato became an important constituent of food. We must realise, of course, that the human being is not a product of the forces of the earth alone. I have told you many times that man is created by the forces of the whole surrounding universe, by the forces of sun, moon and stars. When a man feeds on potatoes, the middle part of his head is used solely for the purpose of digesting them. The result is that having shut himself off from the universe around, he no longer acknowledges its existence and declares: All this talk about spirituality streaming down from the universe is so much twaddle! ... And so it may be said that too much potato food has helped to drive the modern age into materialism.

"Needless to say, it is chiefly the poor who are obliged to fall back on potatoes simply because they are cheap; the well-to-do can afford to buy food containing substances like spices and salts which work upon the front part of the head. Spices have the same effect as salts in the front part of the head. And so these people become thorough-going intellectualists; and the others, being incapable of really active thinking, can easily be imposed upon. The potato as a foodstuff is related in a very special way to man's spiritual activity; it has actually furthered materialism." RS

888 said...

"The astral body has to move the legs, the hands, and so on. It needs the presence of carbohydrates all over the body. If a man's food contains carbohydrates in the form of rye or wheat, the forces of these substances stream into the whole body; but if the food consists only of potatoes, the forces accumulate up there in the head and the man becomes weak and debilitated; his astral body cannot be as active as it ought to be. So that what is spiritual in the human being becomes exhausted, less and less active, when he cannot provide his organism with carbohydrates. This is impossible if he feeds entirely on potatoes because the head has so much to do that the body has to suffer." RS

888 said...

You will be saying to yourselves that after all there are plenty of people who show no signs of hydrocephalus. That, of course, is true, because other forces counteract the tendency and then, at the time of birth, the head is not as disproportionately large as it was in the embryo; it may actually be quite small but still hydrocephalic. The fact is that since the introduction of potato food, embryonic heads are always much too large. In the later stages they contract but this very contraction has an injurious effect because they are not able to take in what is needful — they can only take in water.