A few weeks ago my best friend made a comment about the blog to the effect of there must be so much that we don’t eat. Clearly this means I’ve done a poor job of explaining our food philosophy even to the folks we love and interact with regularly because nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve posted recipe after recipe on here and talked about eliminating processed foods, but I haven’t talked specifically about how we approach food, our food philosophy.
I used to think I knew a lot about nutrition as a science—after all, I did take multiple courses on it at university and then taught it to middle schoolers. But the more I read and the deeper I get, here’s what I’ve learned… no one knows anything for certain. Those who are most convinced otherwise have, historically, produced the worst advice. There are a ton of grand overarching (and overreaching) theories out there—some better than others. The science exists to factually demonstrate that certain foods are high in certain nutrients and from there people get into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, and quickly on to my least favorite thing in the world: restrictions.
We do not restrict nutrient groups. We do not restrict food—real food—of any sort. In fact, Michael Pollan sums it up pretty well in this video:
“Eat anything you want, just cook it yourself.”
We eat meals made by human hands with real, whole ingredients.
The real, whole ingredients thing is key. We eat ethically raised meat, eggs, and dairy. We prefer to eat organic, non-GMO grains, fruits and vegetables. We buy it in the freshest, most ethical form we can get it and use it to make the food we eat.
Why? The more I read and deeper I get, I’ve also learned that there is an incredible amount of politics at play in the food choices we make. The Kiwi and I both care deeply and get a little fired up about those politics. We vote with our dollar to support the farmers that raise and grow our food, not the corporations that turn food into chemistry projects. We vote for food where as much as possible of the real cost of producing it is priced in, rather than externalized and pushed onto society as a whole in the form of massive environmental damage and widespread antibiotic resistance and huge government subsidies for unsustainable practices. That is what makes sense to us.
We believe that the lives the animals we eat have led will effect our health, so we eat meat from animals that led normal, antibiotic-free lives eating the diets they are adapted to eat. Anecdotally, prior to my foods classes at university I never knew there was anything other than grass-fed beef. I grew up on a farm in Georgia that raised beef cows. All they ever ate was grass. Biologically, any animal with a rumen is made to eat grass. Just because they can eat corn for a short period of time before becoming deathly ill doesn’t mean they should. In New Zealand or, for that matter, Germany and many other parts of the world, grain-fed beef is virtually unheard-of. All the beef is grass-fed and there is no need to distinguish or pay a premium for it.
We believe that the food we eat should not be far removed from nature because that is where it’s at its nutritional peak. We eat seasonally so that we can have fresh ingredients, and so that rather than pass the time in relentless monotony we mark the passage of our journey to a cadence older than the hills in which we make our home.
We’re not here to stand in judgement of anybody who doesn’t eat the way we do. It does take time and work to eat like this, and it often involves swimming against the tide of a market that has been distorted to give perverse pricing signals. The reason I write this blog is to provide you with tools to choose how you want to eat. I’m not going to preach at you if you rely on convenience foods, but if you feel like you have no choice but to rely on them then we are here to help.
Marion Nestle from Food Politics recently reported on Brazil’s proposed new dietary guidelines, and we think they are spot on:
- Prepare meals from staple and fresh foods.
- Use oils, fats, sugar and salt in moderation.
- Limit consumption of ready-to-consume food and drink products
- Eat regular meals, paying attention, and in appropriate environments.
- Eat in company whenever possible.
- Buy food at places that offer varieties of fresh foods. Avoid those that mainly sell products ready for consumption.
- Develop, practice, share and enjoy your skills in food preparation and cooking.
- Plan your time to give meals and eating proper time and space.
- When you eat out, choose restaurants that serve freshly made dishes and meals. Avoid fast food chains.
- Be critical of the commercial advertisement of food products.
We don’t avoid meat. We don’t avoid carbs. We don’t avoid wheat. We don’t avoid fat. We don’t avoid bread, or bacon, or bananas, or beer, or butter, or beef. So what won’t we eat? Anything that isn’t food. We eat hardly any of what Pollan calls ‘edible food-like substances’, despite their prevalence in the modern diet. And although we really are against those non-foods in principle, that probably isn’t the main reason we consume so little. The truth is that with all that variety of delicious, delicious food in our diet, we just don’t miss them at all.
We ate this Malted Chocolate Pecan Pie without a second thought, because we made it from scratch
with the help of the excellent Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book