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My Food Philosophy (in a nutshell)

November 21, 2010

This post is submitted to Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist. Thanks for hosting, Sarah!

Some things are made better by technology. From wooden wheels to airplanes, outhouses to indoor toilets, inkwells to macbooks, we’ve come a long way. I’m a proud inhabitant of the twenty-first century.

But – and I know you’ve already guessed where I’m going with this – food is not made better by technology. Today I want to fully explain exactly what my food philosophy is. It won’t take long, because it’s quite simple. Some of the details can get a bit more complicated, and I will deal with the details in later posts, but here is the basic idea:

  • If my great-great grandmother would not have recognized it as food, it isn’t.

Food does not need to be improved upon by humans. We were better off when it was always real, and always traditionally prepared. Did you know that cancer and heart disease were not commonplace before the advent of industrialized food? And that neither were CAVITIES? That’s right – cavities (and dental crowding, etc.) became common when our diets became overwhelmed by processed, denatured foods like white sugar, white flour, and vegetable oil. “Primitive” peoples’ diets can best be described as “nutrient dense.” Like it or not, they ate a lot of animals foods. There was no room for fluff (or way to create it) for them. And they enjoyed perfect dental health without even brushing their teeth. Need proof? Check these teeth out:

You can’t miss that dental arch! No braces or surgery were involved in the making of this smile! You can read more interesting information about the glorious health of traditional peoples and what we can learn from their nutrient-dense diets here.

  • If an animal won’t eat it, it’s not food.

Have you ever heard that little bit of advice that if you were lost in the wilderness, you should watch to see which leaves and berries the animals eat as a guide to what you could safely eat? Flipping that logic around, what about testing the foods we do eat by observing which ones animals recognize as food? I can assure you, animals do not recognize margarine or soy “cheese” as food. But leave a pound of butter outside and see how long it takes before it’s devoured.

  • If it will never spoil, it’s not food.

If something is so full of preservatives that it won’t die, how are our bodies supposed to break it down into use-able nutrients? Did you see the story about the fast food meal that refuses to decompose? Here are the pictures in case you missed it. ‘Nuff said.

  • If it has a commercial on TV, it’s not food.

With very few exceptions, real food doesn’t have a marketing campaign or even a label. So this means that fat-free this, sodium-free that, added Vitamin D this, and High Fibre that, are not food, because food doesn’t need to be engineered to be healthy for us.

You’ll know you’re on your way to eating a real food diet (at least in Ontario) when no tax shows up on your grocery bill. Tax is only added to processed/ “value-added” food products. The best example I have of this comes from a fond memory of yore when I used to work in a bulk food establishment:

Unsalted peanuts: tax-free.

Salted peanuts: taxed.

Just one little “value added” shake of salt, and the peanuts enter the realm of processed food, and a different tax bracket too. That’s just a very simple example. What about typical grocery store flavoured yogurt? Pull it out of the fridge if you have any, and see how many ingredients are listed.

Here are the ingredients that belong in yogurt: whole milk, bacterial culture. You can add anything you want to plain yogurt to make it taste good to you. Have you ever tasted full-fat yogurt? You’ll never go back to the chemical-laden stuff. And if you consume enough good fat, your body won’t crave the excess carbs that will make your waistline expand. By eating more fat, you will have less of a sweet tooth over time. Your body will stop storing calories as fat if you cut down on carbs, which is easy to do when you’re satiated by real fats.

Lastly, and this may come as a surprise:

  • 80/20 rules.

And I’m not talking about mullets. No one can expect, in our world, to eat “real food” all the time, unless you are fanatic about it, or live in a bubble. Every time you’re at a work social event, or you forget your lunch at home, or you’re on the road, you will usually have very few real food choices at your disposal. So for me, as long as 80% of what I eat qualifies as real food, I don’t sweat the other 20% (and especially not if I’m taking my green pastures fermented cod liver oil daily – it’s a safety net). You can have the same rule for yourself, just by slowly working away at creating a “real food only” zone at home.  In the next while I’ll post about a few small changes you can make to get going on a real food diet at home. It has as much to do with the “what” as the “where from.”

A 90/10 arrangement would be preferable, of course, and maybe sometimes attainable, but for me, 80/20 rules.

Like I said, I’m a proud inhabitant of the twenty-first century.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 10:35 am

    I totally agree with the “If an animal won’t eat it, it’s not food” part!

    I gave a can ofnasty, store-bought condensed cream of chicken soup to my barn cats one time as an experiment and they wouldn’t touch it!

    Mind you, they eat mice and birds daily, but know enough to stay away from canned soup! haha!

    • November 22, 2010 11:04 am

      Too funny! Have you ever seen Sally Fallon’s presentation on traditional diets? She shows a picture of butter on a plate outside, beside a plate of ‘soft spread’ (whatever that is!), and then another picture of a crow devouring the butter and leaving the soft spread alone :)

  2. angie permalink
    November 22, 2010 10:53 am

    love your philosphy you are so right

    • November 22, 2010 11:06 am

      Thanks for stopping by, and for leaving a comment :)

  3. November 22, 2010 7:18 pm

    Great post – I give nutrition presentations and kick off with the WAPF stuff, exactly how you’ve described it here! Best, Alix

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