July 26th, 2011
By Craig Fear
I’m guessing that somewhere in the past several years you’ve heard a lot about food. Maybe you read a book, an article or watched something on TV that raised an eyebrow about our broken food system. I’m also guessing that sometimes you feel overwhelmed by the onslaught of information.
You don’t know who to trust, who to believe anymore. Your doctor tells you one thing, your nutritionist tells you another and the avalanche of media resources tells you a million different things as well.
This is where I come in with my three secret weapons. These weapons are nothing more than a book, a movie and an actual physical place (the ultimate secret weapon, which I’ll keep secret for now). They are my chosen resources to communicate simply and clearly what we should eat and why.
I’ve read hundreds probably even thousands of articles and books, watched countless talks, have studied countless perspectives. But again and again, I return to these three, my secret weapons of choice.
The reason is that they do more than appeal to the intellect. They appeal to a deeper conscience within us, a deeper sense of who we are, of our connection to our food, to the land and to each other. They motivate us to make dietary changes not just for personal health reasons (though that’s certainly a motivating factor) but also out of a deeper concern for our community, our country, our planet. They inspire.
So let’s start with secret weapon number one, probably the weapon I use most often.
Secret weapon #1: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
This is a cookbook based on the dietary principles of traditional cultures. And it’s just, well, 600 pages. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “600 pages! I don’t have time to read 600 pages”. But I bet you have time to read 60 pages. That’s all I ask. Just read the Introduction (which is the first 60 pages).
The Introduction is the best educational resource I’ve come across for explaining what’s wrong with today’s nutritional science and what’s wrong with our food system.
You see when I’m consulting with people I only have so much time to assess their current diet and lifestyle and to communicate the dietary changes that will help them. I may explain how carbohydrates are broken down into sugar in the body and why we may need to restrict them, how cholesterol and fat are vital to weight loss or why vegetable oils are unstable and make poor cooking oils, etc. etc. And I know many of these ideas go against the grain of mainstream thinking.
So I use Nourishing Traditions as a tool to extend upon many of the ideas I’ve touched on in the consultation. I use it to make my clients feel confident. And those who read it are often my most successful clients. Light bulbs go on. Nutritional myths are exposed and shattered. Many go on to say that the book becomes their personal nutritional bible.
But beyond the science of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, which Sally details, I also use Nourishing Traditions to empower people. Because nutrition is not just about the science of nutrients and how they work in the body.
It’s about where our food is coming from. How it’s produced and how it’s raised. This is the essence of nutrition. This determines its nutrient density.
Sally makes a good case for the food preparation traditions and growing practices of traditional cultures and in so doing communicates a broader picture than just the science. Science can be helpful but you have to read a lot of it to start realizing there’s a lot of good and bad science out there. If I had a dime for every time I heard the phrase, “According to research…” or, “According to a recent study…” I’d be a rich man. All you have to do is insert that phrase into any statement about anything and most people will believe you.
And when it comes to food we’re learning that thousands of years of food traditions are a much better gauge of a food’s nutritional value than anything modern science can tell you. Traditional people didn’t sit around the campfire discussing the caloric content of their food. They didn’t discuss the science of proteins, fats and carbohydrates. But they probably discussed things like crop rotation, soil quality, animal migrations and weather patterns – natural cycles that dictated the nutrients in their food be it plant or animal origin.
And they knew how to maximize nutrients in their food without knowing anything about nutrients. Maybe they framed it as a “great spirit” that lived in their food or a “divine energy”. Today, we call it vitamins and minerals and anti-oxidants and turn into this somewhat lifeless and boring scientific discussion where everything can be explained by chemical reactions.
Sally honors both – the science and the traditions. And she explains it so simply.
Here, I’ll even make it easy for you:
And please don’t buy this on kindle! This is a book that needs to live and breathe in your kitchen. Trust me, it will not collect dust.
OK, see you next week when I reveal my second nutritional weapon. Here’s a hint: it’s a doc that understands the importance of food!