The New York Times Magazine covered food this past weekend, and I have decided to take their lead and focus on it too. As a basic requirement for life, we should feel pretty lucky that Mother Nature endowed the planet with such yummy treats. Regardless of your particular taste, there must be something pure you marvel so much that you ponder the way that the body benefits from other living things.
Most people, even healthy people, fail however, in terms of taking proper advantage of nature's gifts. Few learn and practice skills needed in the kitchen. Cooking used to be part of daily life, but avoiding the kitchen is now viewed as an honor, a right of passage. To indulge in the time it takes to prepare a proper meal is a waste of your precious time that should be spent working, shopping, or spending time with people in your life.
Our federal government tried to establish guidelines as waistlines and diseases began their onslaught on the American public. They gave us the Food Pyramid, which beget the Food Plate, but still, many people exhibit a wide array of food confusions:
- that juice is good for you. A tiny amount of fresh squeezed is ok, every once in a while, but no packaged, bottled, boxed, or concentrate juice, is good for your body. It's a dessert.
- that boxed fruit, veggie, or cereal snacks are needed in one's diet. Regardless of the marketing campaign, all that ADDED fiber, protein, vitamin blah blah blah is exactly that: marketing.
- that fat is bad for your body. Your body requires digestible fats for many functions, so going fat-free is not necessarily good for you.
I could go on and on. The combination of making daily choices that support the above confusions (among others) and poor exercise habits will keep happening until we start to look at food differently. We like this way of looking at food groups:
Real Foods - either grown or raised, preferably in a healthy, sustainable environment. This category should make up the majority of your diet:
1. Raw: whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds should find a place on your plate at every meal.
2. Home Cooked: using the above plus a wide array of SPICES to refine your tastes and provide the variety of nutrients your body really craves..
3. Fermented: pickles, vinegars, kimchi, real yogurt, cheese, wine & beer (if you can do alcohol) are excellent for their contribution to your body's micro-biome (yes, that's a real word).
Franken Foods - the following list of items should be severely limited in your diet and the diets of anyone you love.
1. Boxed carbs (pretzels, crackers, sweets, etc)
2. Soda, juice, specialty waters, sports drinks, etc.
3. Canned meats, soups, and veggies - good in your emergency "GO" kits, but not a staple in your daily nutrition.
4. Candy, cookies, cakes - if you want these things, MAKE THEM!
Dining Experiences - you go out and you really don't know what goes into your food. Take out, delis, etc are a necessary evil for most, especially for lunch but be careful. Some options are ok but others are simply horrid. Fast food, soul food, food couture - all yummy but extremely dicey.
We might have missed a few things, but you get the gist. Each person is unique, but really, the Franken Foods need to go. Yes, you are busy. Yes, your kitchen might be small, but it's time to step back and see what food really looks like in your life.