My food revolution began five years ago when I listened to an audiobook by Paul Chek entitled, 'You Are What You Eat'. It was a series of discussions on different components of our diet - fats, sugar, salt - as well as topics such as food processing, food storage and microwaving. These things all affect the life-sustaining quality, or to use his term 'vitality', of our foods. It made me feel like I should immediately throw away every bit of food in our house (without being quite sure what I should replace it with).
Many things have molded my thinking along the way – books by experts like nutritionist Marion Nestle and the very en vogue Michael Pollan, the work and resources of the Weston A. Price Foundation and a behavior modification eating plan which involved temporarily abstaining from broad categories of food such as dairy and sugar.
Food is personal. We all make our food choices for many valid reasons, e.g. our heritage, our cooking skills, the time available in our daily schedules and, yes, the state of our emotional health.
Are we 'wrong' to be the eaters we are? Well, of course not.
Are we obligated to continue the patterns our life journeys have set us in? Again, no.
Collectively, we have allowed ourselves to accept some things as 'food' because they are offered for sale at the grocery. We continue to do this instead of changing our habits. That this has been going on for two or three generations now is why we find ourselves where we are – painfully overweight, diseased and in lots of emotional distress about the whole thing.
I'm grateful for what I've learned and somehow been strong enough to put into practice. With a family and a budget to consider, it hasn't been easy. We are healthy. We rarely go to the doctor. There are no foods that we 'don't eat'. There are products we don't eat. Our life isn't one of spartan food choices. Rather, the bounty of God's providence is a daily adventure. We love to eat. My whole journey, though, has boiled down to this – Is it food?
Is It Food? For Thought...
Dessert. We're going to eat it sometimes but what to have? Let's take two American favorites -- chocolate chip cookies and Oreos. Both are delicious. Both can satisfy your sweet tooth. Both are mostly empty calories. Is one better for you, though?
The best way to determine that is to gather the ingredients to make them yourself. For the chocolate chip cookie, no problem. There are many recipes which all have the same basic components –butter, eggs, flour, etc. Check out the ingredient list on an Oreo package, though, and you'll see some things not found in most pantries such as the emulsifier, soy lecithin. The emulsifier in your homemade cookies is the egg yolk. Of course, Nabisco can't use egg yolks in Oreos because then they couldn't sit on store shelves for a year and still taste as yummy as the day they were made.
There is also the 'and/or' issue on the oils used. Can they not decide which one to use? No, it's about which one is cheaper at the time of processing. And shouldn't it bother us just a little that oils from three different plants can be used and still the product comes out tasting just the same?
Further, the first ingredient on the Oreo list is sugar which means there is more sugar than anything. I'm not sure about your chocolate chip cookie recipe, but mine calls for a third more flour than sugar.
Lastly, it's a lot more trouble to make cookies than to dash into Publix for their buy-one-get-one-free cookies. Psychologically, we're less likely to mow through the cookies we just spent an hour baking.
Besides, when is the last time you opened a package of Oreos and your house smelled like a cozy little haven of yum??