Eating better has been one of the highest priorities we have had for a few years now. I think a lot of people talk about “eating better”, and I think its fair to say that’s its probably one of the least agreed upon subjects. Its not really my intent to even touch really on the philosophies of “good eating” since they’re more than I’m willing to get into at the moment, but I’d like to share what we have done in order to make this a reality.
I can say without a doubt that I have eaten horribly for most of my life. Every time I get a little hint at what my life used to be like as a kid, I have to share with my wife and explain to her the extreme differences between my childhood and her own. For one, I used to live off of microwavable meals. Every thing I would eat as a kid / teenager came from the freezer section of the grocery store, and rarely anything that was a raw item that had to be crafted into something tasty. In fact, it got so extreme that in middle school I remember quite well that my parents would make steaks, and instead of eating that I would eat a TV dinner. Yes, as a kid I would have rather eaten a TV dinner than steak. I even brag about how when I was 10 I ate a full 60 count bag of Tostinos Pizza Rolls. Yes, 60 (as a side note I did do that again like 4 years ago, just for the hell of it). The climax occurred while I was in college when I almost exclusively ate fast food. It was to the point that I could definitely tell you all the best things to eat at any fast food location; I had become the fast food connoisseur. If it wasn’t fast food then it was oven pizzas like DiGiorno.
Don’t get me wrong when I say all of that, I liked good food, but I had found the best (tasting) most sinful foods at fast food places, wore them out. Well then I met my wife, who comes from a totally different background, she also likes to cook (a little too much). So one of the things that we immediately hit it off was cooking food. There was some tasty things I could cook, but my wife certainly knew more than I did so we blended well. Luckily Christine was pretty good most of the time at stopping us from getting fast food, that was until I had convinced her to eat some of the better stuff, so now I have to watch out because she won’t put up a barrier to getting things like Sonic or Chic-Fil-A.
Once we moved in together about a year ago is when things really started to change, and even more so once we moved out here to “the country”. The only time we ever eat out on a “regular basis” would be sonic for breakfast/lunch on Saturdays after the farmers market when we would be heading back home since it might already be about mid-day and we hadn’t eaten anything. Everything else that we eat is something that she makes, and usually on the weekend I’ll jump in to help with things. We get nearly every single thing that we eat at the farmers market, or something that we grow ourselves, and lastly we get some prepared items (mostly drinks) from Rouses (local Louisiana grocery store). I should definitely make note that we rarely, and I mean rarely buy ANYTHING that isn’t “raw”, the exclusion of which is Buffalo Sauce (soon we will be making our own).
What I Think Is Healthy
I’m going to keep this one short as I can, and as least “preachy” sounding as possible. I firmly believe that I don’t have many answers, just my observations and the logic thereafter as my guide. I also believe diverse lifestyles are indicative of the strength and resiliency of the human body and therefore am a bit more open to things.
So I believe that what we have been told our entire lives about health and healthy eating is a lie. I think daily mass media and the general populace believe nonsensical things about eating healthy, such as “low fat” is good for you. The more I’ve dug into things like nutrition, herbalism and even just modern agriculture in general the more I go “uh oh”. Something I haven’t hinted at yet in my blog postings is that I am becoming a “financial buff” of some sorts. I have been heavily following financial news/information/blogs going on 4 years now. From this I came to know James (Jim) Grant of Grant’s Interest Rate Observer. He has said in the last few years that we live “in a house of mirrors”. The idea is that we have been so spun around and confused that we don’t have the ability to see what’s real and what is an illusion. I believe the same thing applies to health and our knowledge about it. From this, I think that a lot of healthy eating strategies are tackle symptoms rather than causes.
“Low Fat” I believe is the biggest sign of the complete misunderstanding of health. Apparently, all of the nastiness in animals is saved in fats, therefore, if you are consuming bad, sick and nasty animals, this is where those things reside. Humans and other meating eating animals are designed to eat flesh and fats, so it seems inane that those aren’t healthy. Watch what animals eat if they were to eat an animal, the skin, one of the fattiest part of the animal is consumed first. The common enemy that everybody points to is “Salts, Fats and Sugars”. Lets get a few things straight here before we go further, these taste good for a reason. Before the industrial revolution these were the hardest things on the earth to get, and when you start trying to grow these on your own, you’ll soon realize why. The big difficult one being fat. A better question might be to ask what are the quality of these salts, fats and sugars. I’ll leave this one on that note.
I believe that the human body, as anything else, is healthiest when diversity is consumed. With this in mind, there are some clear no-nos that I believe should not be eaten at all. Anything that has been sprayed with chemicals falls into that category, to include all GMOs. There is zero incentive to eat these types of food, yet those who advocate their OK have no argument to say WHY we should eat them. The possibility of it “not being bad for you” is not an incentive TO do it. They want you to eat it, because they sell it, they have no other way to mass produce this “food”, so its up to you whether or not you believe them. To me, it couldn’t be a clearer thing.
With this is the consumption of grains. This whole “health kick” that has been going on probably since at least the late 90s there has been all sorts of nonsense things sold to people as healthy. If you do just a basic historical look at what people have eaten, both poor and rich throughout the ages, I can assure you the rich weren’t eating grains. Until the the industrial revolution, meat was far too expensive for common folk to eat. In fact, one doesn’t have to do ANY historical homework. Go to any other location on this planet where there is an extreme separation in wealth between the rich and the poor. What do the poor eat? Bread/Grains. What do the rich eat? Diversity, to include high quality meats. Hmmm??? Italians didn’t/don’t eat pasta because its good for them, its a filler because the good stuff may be to expensive. Asians don’t eat rice because its healthy for you, it’s a gut sticker. Breads and grains are eaten by the poor because they are cheap, and tie you over. They’re survival foods, not thriving foods.
How We Eat
OK so now that you have just the roughest of roughest of my philosophy on eating, what exactly do we eat? We stay away from grains as much as possible, and where I fail at this task is beer / alcohol. We usually have drinks on Friday nights, and every now and again I will have a beer or two during the week (although a lot more its becoming hard cider!).
The one thing that may come to a surprise to some people is we eat zero bread. We don’t buy it, we don’t make it, we don’t eat it. We also do not buy any pasta that contains gluten. Neither one of us has real noticeable “gluten” allergies so that’s not really the reason, we just don’t believe its healthy. We have completely replaced all typical gluten things like flour with non-gluton varieties. The wife makes our own flour out of a combination of like 4 or 5 different flours. I firmly believe it works just as well, and tastes just as good as regular flour, and even more importantly performs BETTER than regular flour when frying. =)
I should make it clear that while we don’t eat grains, often, I still believe this is some value in eating grains occasionally, mostly stemming from diversity. I think intentionally preventing your body from consuming things, is probably not necessarily the best long term thing, but because of the nature of grains, we just don’t eat much of it. To be honest, we really don’t miss it, and don’t feel like we’re missing out.
Just about every single Vegi we eat comes from the farmers market fresh every week. If not there, then from our own garden. The only thing this year that this hasn’t been the case is Onion and Garlic which has not been for sale one time at our farmers market all year, so this year we’re going to be tackling this one head on. I’m actually intending on planting enough garlic and onion this year to last us all next year, and waaaaaaay more then. Probably about double what we need (if things go bad, or for barter of course).
Right now we get all of our meats from the farmers market, occasionally buying some pork products from Rouses. Those pork products are the weakest link meat wise. We get all of our chicken from a single producer down the road who does pasture raised chickens. We recently bought half a cow from a beef rancher that we have been buying from for the last year. The beef is all grass feed/pasture beef out of Southern Mississippi. We believe we are avoiding most of the crap that is out there by just eating local meats, particularly pasture raised ones.
Oils & Fats
This is the biggest difficult one to get without dipping into GMOs. The only Oil that we buy is Peanut oil and we buy it in bulk whenever we find it cheap. I think typically what most people in the country or in the past would say the answer to this is having rendered fats available, and they’re probably right. The problem is finding fats like lard that are not partially-hydrogenated. I don’t have time to go into these, but trust me they’re bad. So usually when we do cooking and we need a little oil, or we are frying we use peanut oil.
Occasionally we’ll use some Olive Oil, but because of the widespread fraud in Olive Oil, we try to avoid it, it also tastes like ass in my opinion.
Raw milk is illegal in all forms in Louisiana, so as of right now we get the next best thing. Lightly pasturized full fat milk from the farmers market. We also get our butter from this vendor as well, and we’ve been quite pleased by the quality of this product. When you compare the quality of this with what you buy in the store, its literally not comparable. For one the amount of cremes and fats that are in the milk are way better. Milk is something that I refuse to buy in the store. If you look at organic milk carefully you’ll notice how long it “lasts”. It turns out that what has happened with organic milk, is that instead of making a better milk product, you just have cows who are handled the same, and in order to make the product safe without using chemicals, they ULTRA-pasturize the milk. In otherwords they boil everything out of the milk to the point where its literally no longer “milk”. I can assure you the milk we get at the farmers market goes bad basically in just about 7 days, whereas the “organic milk” in the store lasts oh…. roughly 2 months or so. Ew.
Conclusion and Next Steps
I’ve come to realize recently how much we’ve completely changed our eating habits and where we get our food from. By forcing ourselves to buy all that we need or as much as we can from the farmers market, we’ve had to take on the challenge of making our own foods and making unique and diverse things. Now that we have a dehydrator this is really starting to take off. We will also be dabbling in fermenting foods as well. Other than those few finished products, and drinks, like I said everything we eat is raw and extremely local, and hopefully healthy. I can say at least for myself, while obviously working outside (not like a mad man but just as is necessary) I have lost quite a bit of weight. The lowest I have weighed is 164 pounds recently. I haven’t weighed that low since High School, or my peak in the Marine Corps when I was in the Platoon Leaders Course to become a Marine Officer. I can also say, I eat as much as I want, and whatever I want (from those foods we make), so its not like I’m starving hahaha. The next step for us is getting much more herbs in our diet and really trying to boost the quality of the foods that we grow, and hopefully some addins that we can grow.
Do you guys have any strategies that you use to stay eat and stay healthy?