Grow your roots for everyday living.

Posts from the ‘Food Evolution’ category

Food Revolution cont..

How Do We Fix This?

As a society, this is a very important question: How can we cook better – better for our own health, and better for the health of the planet? The good news is that little by little people are much more conscious of food and agriculture politics than they were a few years ago. The farm bill gets noticed from time to time. This awareness is the first step. When you look at other movements you realize how long they took, they didn’t change in a decade, and surely this is the case with food.

The way I see it, we have lots of great writers and chefs, foodies and creative types, but we need more smart politicians to go to bat. Part of what we do need and what chefs and foodies are promoting is the cultural reevaluation of food: recognizing the importance of food: to your health, your culture, your environment.

What we can do is promote cooking, going back to preparing meals for your family, as opposed to just buying a pre-prepared, packaged meal from the grocery store or fast food chain. This should be a pleasurable experience. If people can find pleasure and enjoyment in this act, I feel more and more people would get on the bandwagon. Cooking is stimulating. It takes mental engagement, it offers sensual pleasures, and cooking is a very enriching experience.

In a time where our lives are so inundated with technology, I think there is actually more mental and emotional space for activities such as cooking and gardening. There is a hunger to use our hands, our senses and our imagination. Right now we are growing up so sensorially deprived, often just using our eyes and ears, and neglecting the use of our bodies. There is another element to consider, and that is the fact that when we engage with all of our senses there are deeply positive effects on our mental and physical health. We’re hungry and desiring for all the sensory information and benefits that cooking can provide when approached in the right light.

Love for the Kitchen

A big part of when things shifted away from the kitchen and toward pre-prepared foods was due to isolation. Cooking alone can be unpleasant, boring and daunting. Historically, cooking has been a very cooperative activity. When things got to busy for people to spend time together in the evenings around the house, it pushed everyone out of the kitchen, which was a big mistake.

Cooking is much more enjoyable together, not to mention things taste better and feel better when we do them together. We need to bring that sense of communality back into our cooking. I think people need to take responsibility for more aspects of their lives. Instead of narrowly focusing on careers and making money, we need to see the value in spending time together, with families and friends, preparing meals together, gardening, sewing, music, social time. In other words, weaning ourselves from a system reliable on technology and fossil fuel.
Gruyere, Fig Jam and Arugua Brek Sandwich

Proscutto Asparagus Wraps


Yes! People are beginning to rebel against the ways in which we’ve increased our dependence on corporations to provide for us. People are recognizing “organic vs. non-organic”, “local,” “GMO’s,” processed foods, etc. The food movement has lots of struggles, but it offers so much. It’s one of the rare instances where the right choice is generally the more pleasurable choice. Get knowledgeable and find pleasure in your new way of thinking and living you life.

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Food Revolution continued..

When Did Home Cooking Begin to Decline?

Basically, after World War II things changed – women wanted to work, wanted independence and freedom from the home. However, this made things complicated for families, for domestic relationships. Women seemed happy to delegate other tasks and housework, but cooking was something they enjoyed. Cooking was a time to be with families, and I think in a sense it was and is meditative. When sociologists ask women which domestic activities they like best, cooking ranks rather high. But, as I mentioned, if women were working, there was no longer time to prepare meals from scratch, and therefore men needed to step in. Not to fret, before things grew difficult, the food industry stepped in and said, “We will take care of it.”

Apparently, the food industry had been trying to sneak in for many years before it was actually accepted. It was rejected for many years before it wiggled its way in. The food industry adopted the language of feminism with claims such as: Women’s Liberation. They were very clever and everyone went along because it made things easier. This all began shortly after World War II and was resisted until the sixties and seventies. Although McDonalds began in the forties, the fast food industry did not take off until the seventies and eighties when fast food became a third of what American children eat every day.

Supplementing home cooking with industrial cooking is one of the largest driving forces behind the obesity epidemic, not to mention the growth of so many diseases. Corporations use obscene amounts of sugar, salt and fat because those ingredients are tasty and cheap, bottom line. These ingredients also mask the poor quality of processed foods. Chemicals make anything possible – make foods look pretty, last a long time, taste decently and have “deception” written all over them in invisible marker.


Cooking is the Biggest Deal

Cooking tells the story of mankind. Learning to cook was one of humanities greatest achievements. “Cooking allows our brains to grow and our guts to shrink (Michael Pollan). This allowed for all sorts of cognitive development to take place and is the underlying force in the development of culture. Cooking stood for cooperation, patience, trust, bonding and relationships to take place. Sitting down and eating together is an enormous force in the development of relationships and hugely impacted the rise of civilization. Cooking itself and cooking tools, such as pots and pans, gave way to creation of foods – learning to combine vegetables with meat, make cheese and butter, bread, beer. These processes are critical to our development as humans and as a species, both then and now.

At What Point Did Things Go Awry?

At some point we crossed over from making food more nourishing, more digestible and more delicious to having the exact opposite effect. Up until the nineteenth century, the history of cooking was all in the direction of making food more nutritious. However, in the late nineteenth century we took food to another level. We learned to refine grain and make white flour, we learned how to turn cane and beets into pure sugar, we learned how to pick nutrients apart and manipulate them. For instance, you take raw materials – corn, soy, wheat – and you “add value” by creating processed foods from those building blocks. So instead of selling nutritious brown rice, we genetically engineered white rice that has vitamin A in it and you get “golden” rice. Because sugar is an innate taste, meaning we are born with it, we love it. This made things even easier for the industry because the beauty is that white flour is so cheap and pairs perfectly with this capitalist economy. It’s a commodity and it’s imperishable. The more complex you make a product, the more profitable. Only, we forget that our gut knows differently.

We became too smart for our own good, we were moving from cooking to “food processing.”


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Food Revolution

A Profound Article Series Taking a Look at our Food System..

Whether we are talking about preconception and prenatal nutrition, specific diseases, intolerance, or overall health, the way we eat is having a profound impact on us and our environment. The industrialization of food has made food very cheap, and the poor can eat ‘better’ than they once did, but at what cost? Now, just about everyone can eat meat at three meals a day. Fast food chains make it easy. It’s not very good meat, most brutally processed and medicated, but it’s within reach nonetheless. I will get into the carbon footprint at another time, but the bottom line is that this is affecting us on every which level. On a personal level we are being affected by all the chemicals we are putting into our bodies, and on a much larger level the environment is taking a beating with the amount of beef being produced.

What Can We Do?

COOK more! Home cooking is essential to solving these environmental issues, not to mention for our health. As long as we allow large corporations to cook for us, we have an industrialized agriculture that is much too big and too abusive for the resources available. When fast food chains are doing the cooking they will buy from the biggest producers possible. There used to be many more small farms, and now we are left with a few much larger ones that run the roost. By shopping at one producer, corporations like McDonalds or KFC can have the lowest costs all around, including the “transaction costs” – the fewest contracts and negotiations. We need more people to get back to cooking in order to prevent the movement for a sustainable food system from hitting a wall. The farmers’ market movement, the push toward individual growers, CSA boxes, small farms etc. .is all limited by people’s willingness to cook. If cooking continues to decline, there no hope of building an alternative to this mass level agriculture system we have in place today.



Look out for the next article in the series!

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The Power of PALEO

“Paleo,” short for paleolithic, also called “primal,” “real food,” or a number of other names is a way of eating that I actually strongly support.  There are few ‘diet trends’ that I agree with, but this is one that I highly regard and that’s because it’s actually quite simple: mimic our ancestors, who suffered from fewer chronic diseases than in modern times.  There is something to be said for eating actual butter, preparing dinner from scratch and eating real sugar when baking.  Of course times are different now than 100 years ago, but we can still incorporate old practices into our modern day lives.

This is what it comes down to: eating whole foods, knowing where your food comes from when possible, and avoiding processed, refined, nutrient-poor foods.  This also means avoiding grains, legumes, refined sugars, and pasteurized dairy.  When you take time to think about this, you are simply eliminating foods that really don’t promote health in your body.

Although there are foods “to eat” and foods “not to eat” when following this way of eating; paleo still supports individuality and allows room for adjusting based on who you are.  Some of us may need more fruits, while others may require more fish.  This is a framework for which to build solid nutrition, promoting ultimate health.

Basic Principles:

1.  Eat whole foods.

When you eat food as provided by nature, it actually promotes health, healing, and immunity against future illness and ailments.

2.  Avoid modern, processed and refined foods.

This list includes grains, pasteurized dairy, industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, soybean, canola, or rapeseed), and artificial or refined sugar and sweeteners (high fructose corn syrup).  Not only do refined, processed foods not offer us the health benefits of whole foods, but instead feed our bodies with bioengineered substances that create an array of problems for our bodies.  These problems may not effect us immediately, but they rear their ugly heads in some form or another at some point in our lives: ranging from weight gain, diabetes, digestive issues, skin issues, hormone imbalance, etc.  I love this saying:  “If its from a plant eat it, and if its made in a plant don’t.”

3.  Eat to maintain proper digestive function.

Everyones digestive function varies, but the importance of proper functioning does not.  Some people can tolerate dairy, or grain-based foods, others cannot, and its up to us to determine what works.  The ability to fight chronic, and even acute, disease states begin in the gut.  60-80% of the immune system is in the gut!  There is immune tissue that follows the entire length of your small intestine.  If your body suffers from digestive irritation, you set the stage for a suppressed immune system in other areas.  This may result in seasonal allergies or something like diverticulitis, psoriasis, or any number of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

4.  Eat to maintain proper blood sugar regulation.

Another key component to health!  The amount of time it takes before your hunger strikes in again after a meal and how you feel entering into your next meal are critical signs of how well your blood sugar levels are managed.  If you’re hungry every two hours and feeling shaky, weak, or starving entering into each meal/snack, you are probably not consuming a balanced diet for you.  Figuring out how much protein, fat and ‘good’ carbohydrate you should eat will help you immensely in maintaining well-balanced blood sugar throughout the day.

5.  Follow a plan tailored to YOU and YOUR Goals.

Paleo is about eating healthy – whole foods, and avoiding unhealthy – processed, refined, junk food.  That being said, we are all unique in what we need to be as healthy and happy as possible.  What did your ancestors eat?  What did you grow up eating?  What foods do you gravitate toward?  What is your blood type?  What is your health history?  Who you are, where you live, what your lifestyle is constituted by all contributes to what foods may work best for you.

Before I tackle the list of foods incorporated in the paleo lifestyle I will say this, all grains don’t have to be “bad, disease-promoting” grains.  If you make your grains from scratch so all the nutrients are preserved, then by all means eat them!  As I always encourage: individuality is imperative and there is always room for tweaking.  No one way for everyone.  Maybe cheese is your thing, so consume high-quality cheese – organic, perhaps unpasteurized and local.  Know your sources.  If you crave chocolate, eat some phenomenal, mouth-watering, irresistible dark chocolate.  Most importantly pay attention to what feels good for you and enjoy your food.

Meat, seafood and eggs
Ideally from grass-fed, pasture-raised, organic-fed animals or wild-caught, sustainable seafood sources.
Vegetables and fruits
Go to town on veggies (except for potato, corn and squash which are very starchy)!  Eat most all fruits, those these can be harsh on blood sugar so limit fruit intake.
Nuts and seeds
Great snack item, but these can be overdone.
Fats and oils
Choose the best quality fats and use for cooking or simply to add healthy fats into a meal.

Refined grains
This includes, but is not limited to: cereals, oatmeal, toast, muffins, scones, croissants, sandwich bread, tortillas, pancakes, waffles, pasta, rice, pita, bagels etc.
Whole grains
This includes, but is not limited to: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, corn, rice, quinoa, millet, bulgar wheat, buckwheat, and amaranth.
Packaged snacks
Granola bars, breakfast bars, protein bars, toaster pastries, crackers, cookies, chips, baked goods, and this list goes on and on.
Dairy Products
Eliminate processed and pasteurized milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, frozen yogurt, etc. Raw dairy is debatable, I”m okay with it.
Certain beverages
Drink water.  Do not drink anything sweetened, especially with artificial sweeteners.  This includes juices, soda, diet soda, energy drinks, sweetened tea, shakes or smoothies.  *Juicing with pure veggies/ some fruit can certainly be beneficial, depending on quantity and quality.  Minimize coffee, tea and alcohol intake.

Paleo Sources –
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo, BS, NC
Paleo for Women by Stephanie Ruper
The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf

“We live in a time when up is down and black is white.  We have been taught to believe that foods coming out of factories are safer and healthier than foods your great-grandmother ate.”  – Diane Sanfilippo

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