What is Real Food? You would think that would be a pretty simple question, wouldn’t you? But a quick internet search will bring you into a virtual food guru war zone. Everyone has a different idea of what constitutes “healthy” and “real”. I’m going to tiptoe through the minefield to bring you my personal take on real food.
The simplest definition of Real Food is “as close to the way God made it as you can get.” Simple enough, right? If you want to know more about how I define real food prepared in a healthy way, the Weston A. Price Foundation is a good place to start. He was a dentist in the 1930’s who wanted to know why industrialized nations had such terrible teeth when indigenous people eating their natural diets had perfect teeth (without the aid of modern science, I might add). So he travelled and studied. What he found revolutionized the health food world (at least those who would listen). (Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is a good book on this if you want to study more.)
So what does that mean for me?
I eat lots of fruits and veggies — we would probably all agree on the healthfulness of those foods. I also eat eggs. And meat. I do my very best to make sure my meat is grass-fed and humanely raised. Now a lot of people are jumping off the train. Brace yourself, because I’m going to get even more radical. I eat butter. And coconut oil. I drink raw milk and make raw milk yogurt. I grind my own wheat flour and make bread. Most of my bread is traditionally prepared by soaking or using natural sourdough yeast. I make fermented, cultured foods. I eat almost no processed food. Is there anyone still with me, or am I riding this train alone?
Here’s a list of guidelines from the Weston A. Price Foundation. I *try* to do everything on this list. Except #15. I don’t do #15 at all. (I don’t drink, folksies.)
Jill NienhiserJanuary 1, 2000
- Eat whole, natural foods.
- Eat only foods that will spoil, but eat them before they do.
- Eat naturally-raised meat including fish, seafood, poultry, beef, lamb, game, organ meats and eggs.
- Eat whole, naturally-produced milk products from pasture-fed cows, preferably raw and/or fermented, such as whole yogurt, cultured butter, whole cheeses and fresh and sour cream.
- Use only traditional fats and oils including butter and other animal fats, extra virgin olive oil, expeller expressed sesame and flax oil and the tropical oils—coconut and palm.
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables, preferably organic, in salads and soups, or lightly steamed.
- Use whole grains and nuts that have been prepared by soaking, sprouting or sour leavening to neutralize phytic acid and other anti-nutrients.
- Include enzyme-enhanced lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, beverages and condiments in your diet on a regular basis.
- Prepare homemade meat stocks from the bones of chicken, beef, lamb or fish and use liberally in soups and sauces.
- Use herb teas and coffee substitutes in moderation.
- Use filtered water for cooking and drinking.
- Use unrefined Celtic sea salt and a variety of herbs and spices for food interest and appetite stimulation.
- Make your own salad dressing using raw vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and expeller expressed flax oil.
- Use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as raw honey, maple syrup, dehydrated cane sugar juice and stevia powder.
- Use only unpasteurized wine or beer in strict moderation with meals.
- Cook only in stainless steel, cast iron, glass or good quality enamel.
- Use only natural supplements.
- Get plenty of sleep, exercise and natural light.
- Think positive thoughts and minimize stress.
- Practice forgiveness.
(Don’t be overwhelmed. I made these changes from the Standard American Diet over a period of years. The best way to make changes like this is to choose just one or two things. Establish those new patterns of behavior before you try to implement more new ones. We will be talking more about how to make those changes as this series progresses. Don’t panic. This doesn’t have to be as hard as it might sound.)
My family loves the food I put on the table for them. I don’t have to wonder if they will eat the “healthy cardboard” I’m feeding them, because real food is gooood. And here’s the funny thing. My family is healthier. Much, much healthier. Can you eat anything but raw salads and be healthy? YES. But you have to be careful about those ingredients. Next time I will tell you how I find those real food ingredients, ‘cuz we’re going to talk about SHOPPING.
Have a great day!