It never ceases to amaze me how ignorant and complacent people are with the foods they put into their bodies. Why would people agree to eat foods that are known to contain ingredients horrible to our health? Why do we buy and not question? Why do we eat and not learn? Why do we consume but not create? These are questions I've found myself asking over the past year, and I can tell you the wool has certainly been pulled from my eyes.
I grew up with the common practice of growing my own vegetables and fruit, not ever thinking once about why. I don't know why, maybe because my grandparents taught my parents, maybe because it's essentially free and we didn't have a lot of money, or maybe my parents were ahead of the game and wanted organic foods before the term was invented... Either way, I consider myself lucky, even more so in the last year or two, realizing the invaluable knowledge and habits engrained in me as a child. The love of fresh vegetables grown on the backyard is something I can only hope to share with others someday, as I try to pass my love along to my nephew and fiancé.
The chemicals that are found in the foods today are nothing more than large scale human experiments- played on an all to willing American public-at the expense of our long term health.
Case in point- margarine and trans fats. I bet most people don't even realize what a trans fat molecule is, or where it comes from- but some slick advertising has convinced is that it's better than natural butter, animal fats, natural tropical oils or nut oils. Do you know who invented margarine? Or that is used to be required to be colored pink to show it as an unappealing/non-food product...
Proctor and Gamble held the US patent for margarine/trans fats. What is a baby products company making "food" for? To corner the lard and butter market, of course, by whipping cotton seed or rape seed oil and later dying it yellow, sounds delicious right? They also decided to use left over waste from soy bean production to save costs and use a useless industrial byproduct. Sounds healthy right? (BTW the rape seed is called canola for those who don't know, NOT an actual food). Trans fats became commonplace after the war to allow food to sit on shelves longer and lowering the bottom line for companies, without any regard for the poison they unleashed on the public.
Yet even after decades of proof that they cause cancer and coronary disease, I readily see people defend trans fats- defend the use of "ingredients" that are not food. Brainwashing? It must be, cause I can't figure out why someone would defend a companies use of "ingredients" instead of demanding its abolition. We know, we've known for a long time, what trans fats have done to us, but only now are people realizing the toxins they've consumed.
How about artificial sweeteners? Let's produce a series of chemicals to replicate a pure substance the human body is engineered to crave, and tweak it until the point that it actually tricks the human body to gain weight without calorie consumption, wow that sounds healthy! If people could learn and understand moderation we wouldn't be desperately seeking zero calorie "foods" to begin with.
But maybe we just didn't know? Maybe companies truly believed these "foods" benefited the public... Bullshit- then and especially now we know what this crap does to us, but has any of it been pulled off the shelves? Of course not, cause that would only benefit the consumer (us).
Probably my favorite misconception that is still alive and burning today is the dangerous and ill-conceived "low-fat diet", or as I call it, the demise of American nutrition. With it's inception in the 1980's obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease have increased exponentially, but apparently we are too stupid to wake up and realize why.
Our entire system of nutritional guidelines was never designed to benefit the consumer, it's straight up for the corporations, big pharma and food industry to benefit from. I have actually heard of diabetics being prescribed a low fat "whole-grain" diet- a slow and expensive death sentence if you ask me.
Probably one of the most laugh out loud hilariously tragic (if there is such a thing) instances of lack understanding I have ever seen was an article written about cook Paula Dean and her outing of diabetes. In reading the hundreds of comments in the section below the article were dozens of comments like, "of course she has diabetes, look at all the butter she uses!" or "all she cooks are fried foods, what to you expect?" and I had to laugh, while I definitely do not condone the blissfully ignorant diet rich in fried foods, I do have the common sense to understand that fat cannot and never will cause diabetes. Period.
Fat has no influence on raising blood glucose levels, which of course, when habitually and intensely raised cause insulin resistance- leading to diabetes, yet I would guess a majority of Americans believe a diet rich in fats (of any kind) directly cause diabetes. Kinda sad in my opinion, basic high school biology evades us, and how our bodies use food is for the vast majority, a complete mystery.
Do you really think that the human species made it tens of thousands of years on a primal hunter gatherer diet, free of all modern diseases only to be stuffed with grains and sugar as our primary source of nutrition?
Haven't you ever wondered how early humans thrived without bread? That diabetes, tooth decay, cancer, heart disease and mental illness all became prevalent when farming grains started? Look even today traditional diets are rare, but they still exist, and only after the introduction of the modern grain/sugar diet do modern diseases and obesity become prevalent. Inuit people ate straight up whale blubber and never had a heart attack or stroke, but how can that be?
The evil saturated fat
I find it to be downright infuriating the absolute disgust and hatred for animal fats. You'd think they were toxic chemicals the way people turn their noses in disgust, shove their plates away in fear. For literally hundreds of centuries humans ate animal fat, raw animal fat. In fact they treasured it, revered and hoarded it, because it raises cholesterol and causes heart disease right? That's every early humans desire, they seeked out foods that they observed to harm right? Makes sense.
Isn't it obvious we are only here today because of the choices our ancestors made? They knew a whole hell of a lot more about nutrition than we do today, and with a fraction of the available food resources we have access to, but still we choose boxes of stuff on shelves in a grocery store, made to resemble the traditional foods of past.
I'm not even trying to bash all grains, just wheat specifically, the modern wheat plant that exists today isn't even close to the wheat harvested just 20 years ago- and its light years away from the original species. If there is one "food" source we have truly destroyed it is wheat, it's been so genetically modified without any regard to its affects to health that it doesn't even resemble an edible plant. Why? Money. Wheat has been genetically modified to such a degree to increase crop yields and decrease resistance to chemicals and grown at a different size to ease farm equipment, that's it. I doubt it was ever modified to increase nutritional value.
Grain consumption is our primary source of food for many Americans and it's been taught to us that it should be the bulk of our diet (think food pyramid) but why? What evidence suggests that humans had it wrong for thousands of centuries? How is eating vegetables and nuts/seeds as the bulk of our diet unhealthy? How did we make it this far without bagels? Hmmm makes me wonder who is feeding us this crap, pun intended.
And people can't figure out why our health is the worst it's ever been? Are we really admitting to be that ignorant?
Are we really that complacent to love in perfect bliss, desperately testing or crash diet after another, wreaking havoc on our internal systems in search of health?
What to do
Doesn't it make more sense to have an honest thought process about our history as a species, about other cultures of the past, to see how they have thrived? Well that's the conversation I've had with myself over the past few years, and I've made the choice to seek out food that would have been available in the human diet 1,000 or more years ago. Pretty simple when you think about it...
Nothing too difficult, stay to the perimeter of your grocery store, avoid foods in cans and boxes, for the most part, and make everything you can from scratch.
Above all else, avoid anything labeled "low-fat", diet, vegetable oil, refined, or enriched, these foods almost certainly mean chemical alteration, bleaching, deodorizing, or other God awful industrial processes not suitable for food consumption. Use butter, non- hydrogenated lard, coconut oil, nut oils and olive oils and avoid all else completely.
Make the majority of your dinner plate vegetables, two or three different kinds, and fill the other 1/3 of your plate with a grass fed animal protein.
Seek foods as close to their original state, and organic as possible. Visualize that little cave man over an open fire pit and think about what made his genetic make-up allow for you and I to exist today...
Don't Kill Yourself Over it
Not entirely possible all the time, and yes some foods are hard to resist, but make things like pasta, breads, sweets, cakes and pastries rare and occasional treats not normal foods and I guarantee you will feel like a whole new person in no time...
Here is a list of sources I have read to help me decide my new life of health and happiness, please give them a read!
- A great website to get you started: http://www.westonaprice.org/
- Real Food: What to Eat and Why by Nina Plank
- Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon
- Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health By William Davis
- Know Your Fats : The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol By Mary Enig