That's it. You can now define salubrious.
My grandfather used to say, “If everyday you learn just one new word, eventually you will be the smartest person in the world.” By trade he was a journalist, so words were his business. He knew that the right word at the right time could make all the difference. So right now, if you only read the first page of this book, you can at least say you are on your way to becoming the smartest person in the world.
But I hope that you continue reading. I believe that if you do, you will not only be able to define salubrious, but it may come to define you.
So where did this strange word come from? Its origin is the Latin salus, meaning “health.” Also sharing this Latin origin is the Spanish word salud, which you may have heard shouted cheerfully before toasting cervezas or tequila! In English salubrious was most often used to describe an environment. However, over the course of the 19th century, its mention faded. Coincidence or not, it shares an uncanny, inverse relationship with the Industrial Revolution.
While a full discussion on the Industrial Revolution is beyond the scope of this book, most folks are familiar with it as a time when the human environment changed rapidly and dramatically. Think assembly lines, slaughterhouses, and factories. Think Oliver Twist. Think smokestacks, chemical wastes, and machines that build machines that build machines. Think mass production, mass marketing, and mass transit.
Our environment changed, and so did our health. To be fair, many technological developments were helpful, such as the mass production and distribution of vaccines for pathogenic diseases like polio and tuberculosis. Once great epidemics, they are now all but eliminated from modern populations. Unfortunately, we have also developed a whole new category of epidemic: metabolic disease. Metabolic diseases are things like obesity, type II diabetes, and hypertension — you know, the stuff that happens when you sit around and eat too much junk food!
But it’s bigger than that. The technological advancements of the Industrial Revolution gave way to a snowball of trade-offs.
We gained the ability to produce great quantities of food, but lost the quality of those foods by exhausting the soil of its nutrients and modifying them to increase shelf life.
We gained the ability to eat anytime we wanted, as much as we wanted, but lost the simple appreciation and knowledge to tend a garden and prepare a home-cooked meal for our family.
We gained the ability to travel great distances of land, air, and sea, but lost the practice of walking through a forest or riding on horseback.
We gained great knowledge and appreciation of the natural environment in sciences such as geology, biology, etc., but have left it polluted and often uninhabitable.
Humans have always faced the same fundamental temptations and pitfalls: greed, laziness, impatience, arrogance, and so on. We have also had the same desires: to be healthy, good stewards, responsible, happy, connected. In the old environment, there was space for these merits. In the modern environment, we are boxed in, cut off, unable to find room to shape the environment around us for good. It often seems we are too far gone. And so many of us give up and give in.
Macro-control: There are some things about our environment we cannot change. We cannot individually change the air quality in LA, the relative price and availability of nourishing food to junk food, nor the demands of LA’s never-sleeping economy on our jobs and careers.
Micro-Control: There are some things in our environments over which we have total control. We have control over the direction we are headed. We have control over how we respond to circumstances.
For everything we cannot control in the environment around us, there are a few key things we can — and must!
We do not exist in isolation, but in context and community — in an environment. That environment can be a wasteland or a vibrant garden, and we are smart enough to shape it either way.
Like needles in haystacks, there are still salubrious microenvironments. To find them you need to know what you are looking for. You need knowledge — a solid primer for the whats and hows of human movement and nourishment. You also need to know who you are looking for — small, well-educated, and highly-motivated groups of healthy rebels who still believe that living fully is possible — peers, mentors, coaches, and experts that can keep each other encouraged, accountable, and connected. The who is just as important as the what.
Salubrious is your guide to reshaping your environment to promote the three key elements of wellness: moving often, moving well, and eating well.
In this book, we propose a call back to eating the way our ancestors ate, to moving often and in the ways we were created to move.
This book is a starting point. We hope that you will read it and take to heart the core principles of moving well, moving often, and eating well. But more importantly, we hope that it will open your eyes to recognize all types of environments: both those that give health and those that steal it. If you can develop the skill of placing yourself in salubrious environments, many difficult-to-control facets of your health and wellness will take care of themselves. Ultimately, if you are reading this and find yourself near us, we hope that you will stop by our little environment. We hope that you will be a part of the story that is unfolding.
Life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Life is meant to be salubrious.