What is Real Food?
It is food made the way nature intended it.
Real Food does not contain any artificial ingredients such as preservatives, colourings or sweeteners.
Real Food does not contain processed ingredients such as refined sugar and salt and highly processed oils.
Real Food is not made in a factory using ingredients that were designed in a laboratory – it is made by real people from real, living ingredients.
Once upon a time, our food came out of the ground (and ocean). Or ate what came out of the ground (and ocean). We ate with the seasons, consuming fresh food when it was available. At scarcer times we found ways to preserve our food so that it didn’t spoil and retained as much of it’s nutritive powers as possible. We used to intuitively understand the need to nourish our bodies. Eating was about providing our body with the fuel it needed to run, jump, swim, hunt and procreate. It was also a time of coming together as a social group, to interact, tell stories and pass on knowledge.
Our ancestors used to consume plenty of animal protein and fat because it filled up their bellies and gave them energy. None of the animal was wasted and by consuming all parts of the animal our ancestors got a whole spectrum of nutrients which most of us today only find in a vitamin supplement.
Fresh fruit and vegetables were also prized because they were not available all year round. Prior to the Neolithic Period (around 10,000 BC), when farming was introduced, fruits and vegetables were gathered from wherever they grew wild. This hunter gatherer lifestyle was practiced by early humans, around 1.8 million years ago, right up until the Neolithic Period where it gradually became replaced by farming practices around 12,000 years ago. 12,000 years may seem like a long time but it’s a blink of the eye when it comes to human evolution.
Once we started farming, we introduced grains into our diet. This was a fairly major dietary change – one that our bodies are not really equipped for. Our ancestors had to find ways to prepare these grains so that we could access the nutrition in them (more about that here).
Despite this change in diet and lifestyle, humans were still living within the cycles of nature. Life was hard and food was not wasted. We ate what was naturally available and this just so happened to be exactly what our bodies needed at that time – fresh young shoots in Spring to cleanse and re-energise after a sedentary winter; fattened animals in Summer and Autumn to prepare us for the long, cold Winter nights.
A few decades ago, things went horribly wrong with our food. After the first World War, our crops began to get sprayed with chemical fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals were the by product of weapon production and were in surplus once the war ended. Some bright spark hit on the idea that they could be sold to farmers and, ever since then, spraying our crops has become the norm.
Up until 100 years or so ago, organic farming was the norm. In fact it was just called farming! Farmers used crop rotation, natural fertilisers and companion planting to produce their crops and maintain the health of their land. With the advent of chemical farming, farmers were able to produce much larger crops a lot more easily. Unfortunately the adverse effect on the health of the land, wildlife and ourselves was not known and we now consume a cocktail of chemicals with our food every day.
Our lives have also become much busier with many families having both parents working full time. This means less time to cook and prepare food so we naturally look for more convenient options. As with chemical farming, convenience food has found it’s way into our lives, with many people opening a packet to quell their hunger pangs without ever questioning what is really inside.
What I want to show you is that there are small changes that can be made to gradually get you back in touch with real food. Make small changes gradually – that’s the key. If you make one small change every day, or every week (or even every month!) then think how far you will have got in a year.
You will find recipes and nutritional information to help you get started on your journey. There is information on the healthiest ways of eating fats, meat and seafood, fruits and veggies and grains and legumes. You can also try your hand at fermenting foods. Please feel free to contact me for help or leave a comment on a post.