Sunday, May 4, 2008

whosamuwhatshould I eat?

Let's talk about what we should be eating in terms of portions and servings per day and all that confusing stuff.

To start, the federal government has some recommendations for you:  That's right!  it's your friendly neighborhood Food Pyramid.  What does it say?  Well, it has changed a bit.  The one that many folks my age grew up with is the link above.  But the USDA has since come up with a vague new chart, which is basically the same as the original, but with a pretty new graphic.  The Harvard University School of Public health has its own version which is quite similar to the USDA version but with the added element of exercise.  Hmm.  

The biggest winners in all of these pyramids are Whole Grains and vegetables.  The biggest loser?  the much maligned Red Meat and Butter.  Now, I like whole grains and veggies, but what is wrong with red meat and butter?  

The answer is that the industry is what's wrong with red meat and butter.  Our processing systems have thrown off the balance of fatty acids in our animal products.  I wrote a bit about that here.  Butter and Meat from pasture farms is far different in chemical structure then their industrial counterparts.  The cows have far more robust immune systems, and have a more varied and rich diet of grasses, which produces leaner meat and healthier residuals such as milk, butter and cheese.  These products are studied far less these days, as they are scarce.

So what should we eat?  The seven group food pyramids of the USDA or Harvard University?  What are the alternatives?  Raw?  Vegan?  Vegetarian?  

I won't get into the fad diets either.  Atkins is so silly as a full time diet it is not worth discussing, the others are far too numerous and strange to list.  

Who knows?  We have to find a source we trust.  I like Weston Price, a Dentist and Nutritionist who studied the diets of various cultures throughout the world. His findings were interesting, finding very low incidence of common american medical ailments in cultures that were eating a fully indigenous diet. He also found that once these groups assimilated the processed foods of the American Diet they quickly developed many of these ailments in far greater numbers.

The result was the recommendation of returning to a simpler whole foods diet.  Pasture raised animals from integrated farms, whole grains, etc.  These foods do not need pasteurization or preservatives, as they are clean and local, by nature.  Pastuerization was needed due to urbanization of milk production in the turn of the 20th century.  Preservatives are only needed in a land of industrial foods, in which excess is the driving force behind food production.  Traditional methods of preservation, smoking, salting, fermenting, are slowly being lost in favor of chemical and Soy/Corn based preservatives.  In a local food system, no preservatives are needed.

So again, what should we eat?  I will try to do more with this question soon, but to start read this talk.  Bill Sanda of the Weston A. Price foundation discusses food groups, fatty acids and much more.

Be Well.

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