Recently There have been a lot of blogs, books, articles, and discussions about “Real Food”. But what does that mean? Isn’t it all real? After all we have not yet reached the point of 3-D printed foods! (Even though that is beyond my wildest imagination, it is said to be on the horizon).
There are a couple ways to define “Real Foods”. I have a friend whose grandchildren call it “God made food” as opposed to “man made food”. Traditional food as opposed to industrial food or food in it’s natural state as opposed to synthetic food is another way of looking at it.
In my mind, real food has no additives to preserve it, change its color, appearance, or flavor. If you read a list of ingredients and can’t pronounce some of them, then that is not real food. If there is an ingredient listed (on a jar of pasta sauce for instance) that you would not add if you were making the pasta sauce at home in your kitchen, then that is not real food. I personally think pasta sauce tastes best when you get the ingredients from a local farmer’s market or grow them yourself and then cook the sauce in your kitchen! I also know that is not always possible – so look for a jar that has about 4 or 5 ingredients, no preservatives, nothing you can’t pronounce, and only ingredients that you would have in your kitchen – and NO sugar.
What about sugar, is it allowed on a real food diet? NO! Actually it probably shouldn’t be in any diet. Sugar is more habit forming than cocaine. It is the cause of inflammation and many cardiologist are now blaming inflammation from sugar for heart problems – not cholesterol! Does that mean you can NEVER have anything sweet again? Of course not, there are natural sweeteners- local organic honey, maple syrup, molasses. That being said, use them sparingly. They are still “sugar” – in its natural state.
I’ve had people argue that butter isn’t a real food because it has been processed. Yes, the shape and the form has changed, but it is still cream and maybe a little salt- nothing else. The same CAN NOT be said for margarine. And, by the way, the best butter is from pasture raised cows! On the same train of thought ,hamburger is real food. Yes, the form is different and you could say it was processed in a meat grinder, but it is still beef from the cow with nothing added. Once again, the best beef for you is from pasture raised cows.
The bottom line is, Mother Nature really does know best. When I present to groups I give a little of my background . I’ll share some of that now. When I was young no one talked about “organic” because everything was organic. Most people, even my husband’s family in Chicago, had gardens. What one person didn’t grow another one did and people shared so there was variety. There was, almost always, a worm in the ear of corn. Pesticides were not used yet and corn was not genetically modified. Today I’m excited when I find an ear of corn with a worm. Meals were prepared at home and vegetables were canned for the winter. To this day, there is nothing like chili made with home canned tomatoes!
People were healthy and worked hard! I can remember the first time someone in our community was diagnosed with cancer. It was unheard of, people were not familiar with it, and most everyone was afraid it was contagious. Today, heart disease and cancer are the top killers! Allergies, arthritis, diabetes, chronic fatigue, birth defects, digestive disorders, ms, (the list could go on and on) are common place. What has happened? Think about the differences in how we eat today. Consider the truth and wisdom in the quote of the ancient philosopher, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, “let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” He believed in the natural healing process of rest, a good diet, fresh air, and cleanliness. Ann Wigmore, the co-founder of the Hippocrates Health Institute, had another way of saying it, “The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison”. It would seem there are once again advocates for that style of living –as demonstrated by articles on the internet, books, and even the medical profession.
Simple advice – if you want to be healthy, be good to your body. Eat Real Food!
Books for more detailed information:
Real Food, What to Eat and Why by Nina Planck
Nourishing Traditions:The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon