Me: “Hunny, could you get the soap box outta the closet for me please? I think it’s under that basket of hats and gloves.”
Hunny: “Again? Why don’t you just keep it out if you’re going to use it so much?”
Me: “I know. I know. I’m trying not to get on it but sometimes I just can’t help it. Believe me, I would love to write a nice, pleasant little blog that everyone knows and loves. But it is not always possible.”
[Guests walk in.]
Oh! Hello there! So glad you dropped by! Can I offer you a recipe or two? How about a nice cup of tea?
Hmmm. You seem upset about something. What can I help you with? Oh I get it! You’re confused about all these foods that people are running around raving about and telling you that you need them in order to be healthy? You’re under pressure to consume acai berry but you don’t really understand why? You’ve heard you shouldn’t eat soy, you should eat soy, you have no idea if you should eat carbs and now you’ve read my blog and wonder what the hell there is that you can safely sweeten your food with? You never in a million years imagined that plain old feeding your face was really so complicated?
No problem! Let me tell you the basic rules of knowing what to eat. The rules are so simple, I’m sure you’ll say you really already knew them. I’m just reminding you.
1. Choose whole foods. These are foods that have all their edible parts left intact. They have not been heavily refined or processed. Examples of whole foods are unpolished grains, beans, whole vegetables, whole fruits, whole animals. Yes! Have a cow! Really, if you are going to eat animal protein at least eat something that resembles a part of the whole animal instead of meat-like products that are ground, pressed and blended with God-knows-what. About a year ago I learned that ground beef is often mixed with other things and that this is not necessarily included on the label. And just recently we all read about “pink slime” and how some school districts are vowing to eliminate it from the school lunch menus.
2. Eat organically grown and raised food. There is plenty of information available about what organic farming is. But it can get confusing if you don’t know the legal definitions so here you are (from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture website):
100% Organic and Organic: Products labeled as “100 percent organic” must contain (excluding water and salt) only organically produced ingredients and processing aids. Products labeled “organic” must consist of at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (excluding water and salt). Any remaining product ingredients must consist of non-agricultural substances approved on the National List including specific non-organically produced agricultural products that are not commercially available in organic form.
Made with Organic Ingredients: Processed products that contain at least 70 percent organic ingredients can use the phrase “made with organic ingredients” and list up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups on the principal display panel. For example, soup made with at least 70 percent organic ingredients and only organic vegetables may be labeled either “soup made with organic peas, potatoes, and carrots,” or “soup made with organic vegetables.”
3. Choose foods that are as fresh and local as possible. Sure you can buy a can of organic pinto beans, some frozen organic brown rice (and I have been guilty of both on occasion) but it is simply not possible to preserve the nutrients and life energy of a food when it has been harvested a year ago and has been sitting in a warehouse six months after that. And even if you are buying fresh—let’s take cabbage for an example—your “fresh” cabbage is losing precious vitamin C while it’s waiting for you to pick it up and put it in your cart. If at all possible, look for “locally grown” and look for any farmer’s markets local farms or other sources of food that is truly fresh. Better yet, start your own garden, grow some herbs, participate in a co-op or community organic garden or whatever you can.
That is one reason why locally grown food is important. But there is another reason to choose locally grown food. That is, your ability to easily get along with your environment. Today we can get any food from any part of the world. But why do we have to import something like fresh pineapple if we live in Alaska? Obviously pineapple doesn’t grow in Alaska and in many other climates as well. So if we ate tropical foods every day while living in a cold climate we’d probably find it harder to stay warm. Tropical foods are in balance with tropical environments.
I have a friend who was recently consulting someone about their diet. She found out the person, who lives in a southern state, had a problem of being too hot all the time. She wisely recommended that he consume less meat because she knows that meat keeps a body very warm indeed.
4. Include naturally fermented foods. Naturally fermented foods provide valuable “good bacteria” for your digestive tract. In a world dedicated to killing every kind of bacteria and “germ” with fluoride in water and toothpaste, chlorine in water and chlorine wipes for every surface, and the king of intestinal flora killers–antibiotics—it’s no wonder that people suffer everything from chronic gas to serious yeast infestations. First of all, realize that if you are ill and have to take antibiotics, do it responsibly. Antibiotics kill bacteria but don’t differentiate between the good and the bad. Every day put back the beneficial bacteria that the antibiotic is killing. Some people feel this is wasteful and they just wait until they are finished taking the antibiotic. I don’t agree. By that time you have been totally stripped, leaving your intestinal tract open to infestation of whatever comes your way.
All traditional cultures have fermented foods. It was done to preserve foods and it was well known to be helpful to digestion. Pickled vegetables, pickled fish and yogurt in western cultures. Naturally fermented soy products such as shoyu (real soy sauce) and miso as well as other types of pickles and fermented foods are used in eastern cultures.
When looking to purchase naturally pickled or fermented foods, beware that many of the cultured dairy products are pasteurized and ultra-pasteurized and then they add the beneficial bacteria such as acidophilus. When I talk about including naturally fermented foods, I am talking about ones that are developed by traditional processes that result in live beneficial bacteria. You should also know that the ever-so-popular yogurts available are often flavored with sugar and sugared fruit products. That defeats the overall purpose of protecting health and leads to my final basic rule for knowing what to eat.
5. Don’t eat refined sugar. Get to know what is sugar and what isn’t and which types of sweeteners are complex carbohydrates and which ones are not. I have written many posts on this blog about the subject. Sugar is one of the most devastating food additives ever and it has been around so long, and contributes to so many health problems which are blamed on other things that it is truly insidious.
I know many people who consider themselves very healthy and conscientious who say they mostly avoid sugar and only eat it as a special treat. That is excellent and I admire their intentions to avoid this toxic substance. But the problem I see is that sugar is in so many things that it is difficult indeed to eat little or none of it.
Me: “I’m done with the soapbox now, Hunny. Help me get down, please.”
Hunny: “Shall I put it away?”
Me: “For now, thanks. But I might need it again so don’t bury it too far into the closet.”