In the movie The Matrix, there is a scene which has them eating a meal that has all the essential amino acids necessary, but it doesn’t look to appetizing. Here is a clip of the scene.
Unlike, the members of the Nebuchadnezzar ship in the Matrix, I had an experience five years ago where I was eating food that DIDNT have everything the body needs.
When I was prototyping 25 in Change in 2011, before we ever started it, and prior to having a healthy support network in place to make sure I didn’t hurt myself in my first few attempts at Advocacy, I had a brief and mildly painful nutrient deficiency sneak up on me. I was loosely trying out a combination of WFP recipes provided to students around the world, and making various meals of rice, beans, corn, and soy. For seasoning I used the higher quality Kosher Sea Salt to plain Iodized Salt (because I’m cool like that). Sometime during the month, I began having a soar throat that was slowly turning into a soar neck and lasting much longer than a sore neck and throat usually last for me. On one of the nights as I was trying to fall asleep, the throbbing pain in my neck just wouldn’t let me fall asleep—all of a sudden, I had a revelation; perhaps just common sense, and I realized that I was suffering from Iodine deficiency. The fancy Kosher Sea salt hadn’t been iodized like the cheap stuff, and now I was paying the price. I was in the slow process and very early stages of developing a debilitating goiter through having an enlarged thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency. This condition affects billions of people around the world (more on that in a minute). I immediately got out of bed, went down stairs, poured myself a glass of water and put a teaspoon of cheap iodized salt in it, drank the whole thing, and went back to bed. I woke up the next morning without neck pain, a healthy thyroid, and a new appreciation for micronutrient deficiencies and that cheap salt.
Micronutrient deficiency is not as easily recognized as chronic hunger or obesity, and therefore is often referred to as hidden hunger. Today, there are billions of people in the world who suffer from Vitamin A, Iron, and Iodine deficiencies which leave them with lifelong debilitations. Around one third of children five and younger in developing countries are Vitamin A deficient and suffer from weakened immune systems. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading preventable cause of blindness in the world. A lack of iodine is the leading cause of mental retardation in the world, and in 2007, nearly 2 billion people suffered from reduced iodine intake. All the need is cheap iodized salt. How cheap is cheap? Insanely cheap! Through iodizing salt, it costs five cents per person per year to iodize a country’s food supply. Five cents. The equivalent of two and a half opinions. Five cents. Less than the cost of a Tylenol to treat my neck pain caused by my silly desire for Kosher Sea Salt.
On Day 5 of 25 in Change, I’m grateful for each meal I’ve had today of 12 oz of rice, 4 ozs of beans, a dash of vegetable oil, and a pinch of iodized salt. Though I know this meal doesn’t have everything the body needs (so I take a multi-vitamin daily to stay healthy), I do know this: It’s got iodine in the salt, and I won’t have any unexpected neck pains.