I’m going to postpone my update on my Happiness Project: Attitude for another week. I won’t go into it, but I bombed, so I’m going to give myself another shot. If at first you don’t succeed, right?
Instead, I want to talk about something essential to authentic living: Real food.
First of all, what is real food? I currently live with and work for my uncle, who is the CEO and founder of Real Foods Market, so real food is something I hear about a lot. He’s very passionate about what he does and every food, personal care item, and pamphlet in his store is the result of extensive research on his part. He manages to keep a wonderful organic garden despite rough growing conditions and he has several bee boxes in the backyard. He’s even established his own farm in Redmond, Utah to raise raw milk, grass-fed beef and truly free-range eggs. I strongly urge you to visit the store’s website to read about real food.
His definition of Real Food, and the one I’ve come to accept is this: “Real food is nothing more or less than food created by Mother Nature and eaten in its natural, unadulterated, pure and nutrient rich state. In theory, if you cannot pick it, gather it, milk it, or hunt it – it is not real food.”
I don’t subscribe to any particular diet philosophy; vegan, vegetarian, macro, raw, omnivore, locavore, low-carb, high-protein, etc, because every body is different and what makes me feel good may not work for you. The one thing I do think is right for everyone though, is real food.
The problem is, real food is sometimes difficult to find. Visit a regular grocery store, and most of what find is processed, chemical laden food. While there’s nothing morally wrong about eating these foods, they’re not doing your body or the environment any favors. I don’t believe in “bad foods”-believe me, I’m not above the occasional Twix or bag of Cheetos- you don’t want this in your body very often.
If you shop around the outside of the store like health experts recommend, you’re still getting mostly denatured food. Most of the produce in produce section has been sprayed with pesticides, covered with wax to look shiny and may be genetically modified.
Animals products are even worse. That chicken you just bought for $1.25 a pound was most likely a drugged, diseased, tortured and mutated animal who lived an awful life an died a horrible death. That gallon of milk most likely came from a cow who spent her days being artificially inseminated, carry and birthing babies only to have them taken away, destined either for a life like hers or the veal crate. That cow was pumped full of hormones to increase her milk production and drugs to survive her awful living conditions, fed an unnatural diet and then slaughtered to make ground beef in the next aisle over. Even some organic brand in stores are actually factory farms, feeding cows on “dry lots”, fed an organic yet still unnatural diet and hooked up to milk machines three time a day.
This is why I spent most of this year experimenting with veganism. I read plenty of books and studies, spent a lot of time watching videos like “Meet your meat” and played around with cooking without animal products and occasionally sampling vegan substitutes such as Boca Burgers and Earth Balance. I felt virtuous because I knew I was doing something good for the planet and keeping that bad stuff out of my body, but after even more research I learned that all animal products aren’t created equal. Properly raised animals (ie, grass-fed, free-range, etc.) make much healthier products than those raised in factory farms. Meat, dairy and eggs from pastured animals contain many essential fatty acids and other nutrients absent in conventional animals. Through further reading, I realized that most studies exploring the negative effects of animals products on humans used poorly produced, overcooked and often highly-processed meats, eggs and dairy instead of healthy grass-fed meat and raw dairy or truly free-range chickens and eggs (I specify “truly free-range” because many produces claim their chickens are free-range when they actually live in similar conditions to conventional chickens, just without cages). Remember: healthy food can’t come from unhealthy animals.
I started eating more real meats, eggs and dairy along with my usual produce, raw nuts and whole grains and I can tell my body loves it. This may not be the case for you, but it is for me. As a person deeply concerned about how food is produced and what goes into my body (even though I still eat junk sometimes) it’s important for me to know what’s in my food, where it comes from and how it was produced. I’m still learning about food and how to find real food on my own (right now room and board is part of my job benefits) and I feel I’ve found another big piece of the puzzle. Eating this way is good for me, and eating real food is good for everyone.
How do you feel about real food?