Musings of an Independent Researcher

by Ellen

Slow Foodies in San Francisco.  Photo Credit: Kevin Krejci

Slow Foodies in San Francisco. Photo Credit: Kevin Krejci

I’m having so much fun!  I love learning about health and nutrition, even when I don’t always practice what I preach.  Every once in a while I have an eye-opening moment that makes me realize how much there’s always room for a larger perspective, even when it comes to “science.”  Research can be too narrow, can ask the wrong question, can miss a question, or can be completely confounded.  What fun to muddle through the studies, applauding some and discounting others.

Matt Stone really got me thinking the other day, as usual.  If you haven’t read his blog, you’re missing out.  The thing that I really like about Matt Stone is that he’s willing to change his theories about nutrition as he learns more.  I want to be that way, evolving, never getting stuck in an ideology, but always being open to learning more and to realizing that people are different and food is going to affect people differently.  One size does not fit all, yet there may still be some universal truths out there.

For example, what about high fructose corn syrup?  Can we say without a doubt that it’s a bad thing?  Probably.  Still, if someone were starving and needed to fatten up really quickly, maybe HFCS would come valiantly to the rescue!

Photo Credit: M i x y

Real Food

Okay, I’m being too flip.  Let’s take Real Food as a subject.  I capitalize it because there’s a growing Real Food movement as more people become aware of how far we’ve moved away from consuming food, instead of ultra-processed partial-food substances that are riddled with chemicals.  When I first read Nina Planck’s book, Real Food: What to Eat and Why, I was convinced that this was it: Eating traditional foods that our ancestors have eaten for centuries is the natural, most healthful way to live.

I still believe that idea, but am growing more aware of variations on a theme.  One gal might be really hip on raw milk from pastured cows, feeling like the cows are doing most of the work in converting grass and sunshine to the vitamins she needs. Another guy could live for fresh eggs and loads of locally-grown vegetables.  I’m sure there are plenty of vegetarians who feel they eat “real food,” even if their diets don’t fit in completely with the teachings of the Weston A. Price Society.  Besides, there are vastly differing traditional diets all over the world that convey good health to the people who follow them.

My husband had a routine physical exam the other day. His doctor remarked on his good health and Jim mentioned that we’ve been eating lots of butter, whole milk and cheese.  The doctor’s reply:  “That’s making the rounds these days.”  I found his comment interesting, because the first time I read Real Food I immediately felt like this way of eating was not a fad; in fact it was how people in traditional societies had always eaten until science took over the food industry and it became big business.

A New Food Pyramid?

Photo Credit: Deb Roby

My real food pyramid would have butter, milk and cheese right down there near the bottom!  Regardless of how you mix up the pictures in this controversial food pyramid, it emphasizes that the fat-phobic one we’re used to, with its recommendations to consume refined vegetable oils and low-fat dairy products doesn’t fit with traditional ways of eating.  Margarine is not real food. I’m also puzzled why suggests that we make half of our grains whole.  Why half?  Who determined that it’s okay to eat the other half of our numerous grains in a refined form?  I’m waiting with bated breath to see what the 2010 dietary recommendations will be.

Perhaps the most important thing is that people are thinking about what they eat and how it will affect the quality of their lives. While the vegan can vehemently disagree with the Real Foodie about the value of meat in the diet, they both agree that each bite we take matters.  Real Foodies, Traditional Foodies, Paleo dieters, Slow Foodies, herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, low-carbers, locavores — we’re all thinking!  Thinking is good.  It leads to small changes that turn into larger changes.  Every little bit counts.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Jenny @ Nourished Kitchen May 6, 2010 at 11:03 am

You might be interested in this food pyramid by Nourishing Our Children:

BodyEarth May 6, 2010 at 12:26 pm

That’s a wonderful pyramid, Jenny! Thanks!

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