Real Food

For my birthday, my awesome hubby got me a copy of Michael Pollan’s book, In Defense of Food.  His entire point can be summed up in 7 words: eat food, not too much, mostly plants.  Michael Pollan, not my husband.  Well, it’s something my husband would say also.  The statement comes right from the book itself, and before I even knew who Michael Pollan was, and before we even started doing more digging into what it means to really be self sufficient and lead healthy lives, we pretty much felt this way.  Eat food; real food, food that your grandparents would recognize.  And eat it with gusto!  The entire concept of feeling guilty about eating is such an American thing.  We hate to admit that we love chocolate and cake and ice cream, or if we cop to it, we do so with a self deprecating grin on our faces.  As if loving food is the worst thing a person can do in a day.  The thing is, when you eat real food, not food like products, it changes the way you view food.  We are guilty of having quite a few food-like products in our pantry, but we are working to change that.  Any time a recipe for a dessert tells me to use shortnening, I whip out my trusty tub of lard.  That’s right, lard.  I said it, I’m not afraid to tell you that lard makes my pie crusts so golden and flaky, and makes my chocolate chip cookies so rich and delicious.  I am a proud user of lard.  Most people, and I was among their ranks not so long ago, would get the heck away from lard as fast as they could.  Thing is, when we start looking at what individual nutrients are doing to our health, we get into muddy water.  If you look across the globe at cultures that eat very closely to what their great grandparents ate, you will see a serious lack of health problems related to diet- cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, I could go on.  Numerous studies have shown that vitamins and dietary supplements have no effect on a person’s health.  Well, ok that’s not entirely true; sometimes when longterm or large amounts of vitamins and supplements are used, there is a deleterious effect on the person’s health.  For example, fat soluble vitamins, such as A, D, E and K are all filtered through the liver, but since they are fat soluble, they also accumulate.  Similar to the way heavy metals accumulate in your body.  What does that mean for our vitamin taker, or a person who has been consuming these new meal replacement smoothies which are basically a multi vitamin in a cup?  It can mean long term negative health, specifically to the liver and kidneys, your body’s filters.

What in the world does any of this have to do with homesteading?  I’m glad you asked.  The whole purpose of the life we lead here is self sufficiency and good long term health.  We aren’t as active as we should be, and we are far from eating all the right things.  But we also trashed our supply of multivitamins and dietary supplements.  Instead of reaching for an omega 3 capsule, we grill up some fish hubby caught.  Instead of downing a vitamin K replacement we grab some greens and some spinach and have a salad.  And anytime anyone ever tells you that vegetable oils are better for your health than real fat, don’t you trust that person.  Use real butter, use real lard, and eat real vegetables and fruits.  Oh and for the record, eat eggs, the whole egg.

The amount of money spent on designer shakes and wraps and pills and whatnot would be so much better spent in the produce aisle of the grocery store.  Or better yet, at the farmers market.  Get to know the people who grow and raise your food.  Grow some of your own!  And eat it with joy and pleasure.  Food should be enjoyed.  Good food should be relished and lingered over and talked about.  And you know what?  Have that slice of pie.  Have two, just maybe work an extra 30 minutes in the garden the next day.

The point is we have gotten so far away from eating a healthy diet that is real food, it doesn’t matter how many vitamins you take.  If everything else you consume is packaged and delivered up with the flashiest new slogan or jingle, those multivitamins aren’t going to be able to dilute the negative.  I guess that’s my soapbox for the day.  And if you’re looking for a  good piece of pie, we might just save you one.