So Is It Really Worth All The Fuss?

whole-food

I know, I know.  It sounds like I’ve lost my marbles.  I had a friend ask me yesterday if I’m still shaving my pits and wearing deodorant, which is an honest question.  I make no guarantees.  No, seriously, my “whole foods initiative” probably sounds more dramatic than it really is.  I’m not even making my own bread yet, although I am fascinated by the prospect of making my own butter from the cream at the top of the raw milk container.  So yeah, for those who think I’ve gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, I hear ya.  I’ve said all the same things at one time or another.

I don’t buy it.  It’s just the latest fad.

We all made it this far just fine, right?

People are living longer than ever these days.  70 is the new 50!

Sounds great, but who can afford it?

In the wild days of my youth, when I used Paul Mitchell Freeze and Shine with reckless abandon, I thought I could eat anything.  I even made careless comments about having a stomach of steel.  Little did I know how ironic that statement was to become.  In college, there were days that I drank 4 cans of Coca Cola a day and had pizza for every meal.  Or when I was really watching my diet, I’d have a meal of Doritos and Coke followed by a Snickers bar for desert.  I thought a veggie was the pickle on my McDonalds cheeseburger.

We all say we’re doing just fine in one breath, but in the next we wonder why food allergies are on the rise, why infertility is so rampant, and what’s up with all the cases of autism and ADD?  Were these conditions always around and we just didn’t talk about them?  Or are they particular to our day and age?

With my son’s tree nut and sesame allergies, people are asking me all the time, “What do they think causes it?  When I was little, I don’t remember all these kids having allergies.”

No one knows for sure.  We say it must be environmental, but what?

In our immediate family alone, we have food allergies, eczema, asthma, seasonal allergies, gastritis, hypothyroidism, IBS, GERD, and possibly ADD.

In my extended family, there is stroke, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and cancer.

Sure, infant mortality rates are way down, and we’ve all but eliminated polio, but we’re not exactly fine either.

We ask each other why these conditions are so prevalent.  We look at each other and shrug our shoulders, like it’s a big mystery.  And yet, in the last 100 years, we have reduced the wonderful foods God provided for us to the lowest common denominator.  We’ve created all sorts of unnatural food products, and we’ve added, subtracted, and modified until even most whole foods are barely recognizable.

Did you know that 100 years ago diabetes and heart disease were practically nonexistent? The first recorded heart attack in the U.S. occurred in 1912.  In the early 1900s, Dr. Dudley White (who has been referred to as the founder of cardiology) decided to find out more about the “new disease” reported in European medical literature, but it wasn’t until 1921 that he found his first heart attack patient.  That right there tells me that not all of these diseases have been present forever.  As our food has become more industrialized, heart attacks and cancer have become the second and third major causes of death.  They are often referred to as “diseases of civilization” because they’ve only come about with the industrialization of food that characterizes the Western diet.

There are several examples cited in the books I’ve been reading where certain cultures eating traditional diets turned to the Western diet for some reason or another.  Suddenly these people who were the picture of good health soon developed these diseases of civilization, namely diabetes and heart disease.  One such group of peoples, when returned to their original indigenous diets, regained their health.

When people say, I dunno, we’re all doing okay, I can’t help but think, I’m not.  My stomach is a mess.  I have IBS, GERD, gastritis, and lactose intolerance.  I have children with food allergies, eczema and asthma.  I have family members with heart disease and diabetes and other conditions that I don’t feel comfortable going into here.

We may be living longer, but what about our quality of life?  I’m not interested in living forever.  I’m interested in feeling good.  Food remained pretty much unchanged for centuries.  It’s only in the last 75 years that we’ve been eating refined, processed foods.  I’m willing to try to return to a more traditional diet and see what happens.  I’ll be the first to tell you if I decide it’s not all it’s cracked up to be, but for now I’m going to focus on getting back to basics and see where it takes me.

If you are interested in what I’ve been reading and curious about making some similar changes, here are a few resources to look at:

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

Real Food: What To Eat and Why by Nina Planck

Kelly the Kitchen Kop is a self-proclaimed “blogging freak who loves to search out the truth on “politically incorrect” health & nutrition topics.”

Food Renegade is a nutrition & wellness coach and a passionate advocate for what she calls “real food.”

Cheeseslave is dedicated to “cheese. And bacon. And butter. And raw milk. And all those other things we’re not supposed to eat.”  Love that!

Nourished Kitchen is a blog “committed to eating wholesome, sustainably produced food while maintaining a budget.”

That should get you started!

Obligatory disclaimer:  Naturally I don’t agree with every last sentiment expressed on these sites and in these books, but there is a lot of great information in there.  As for my commentary, I am only sharing information I’ve read and my own personal opinions.  I am certainly no expert, and you should do your own research and come to your own conclusions.