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Tender Grassfed Barbecue: Traditional, Primal and Paleo by Stanley A. Fishman
By Stanley A. Fishman
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By Stanley A. Fishman

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DISCLOSURE AND DISCLAIMER

I am an attorney and an author, not a doctor. This website is intended to provide information about grassfed meat, what it is, its benefits, and how to cook it. I will also describe my own experiences from time to time. The information on this website is being provided for educational purposes. Any statements about the possible health benefits provided by any foods or diet have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

I do receive some compensation each time a copy of my book is purchased. I receive a very small amount of compensation each time somebody purchases a book from Amazon through the links on this site, as I am a member of the Amazon affiliate program.

—Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat

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Paleo, Primal, and Price

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue
Bison Ranging Yellowstone Lake
Grassfed bison meat is a healthy, basic human food that is valued by the Primal, Paleo, and Price movements. photo credit: puroticorico

The question has arisen recently on various blogs about whether the teachings of Dr. Weston A. Price are compatible with the Paleo and Primal movements. A similar question has been raised as to whether the Weston A. Price Foundation and its members are hostile to the Paleo and Primal movements.

I have studied Dr. Price’s work for years, so much so that my copy of his book, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, has literally fallen apart. I have been a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation for years. I have followed a Weston A. Price style diet for over six years. I have read and studied almost every article on the vast website of the Weston A. Price Foundation. I have designed my cookbooks to be completely compatible with the teachings of Dr. Price. I have strongly advocated the Weston A. Price style of eating on my blog, and still do.

Though I am a member, I do not speak for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Nobody speaks for the Foundation except its officers, officially designated spokespeople, and board members. I speak for myself.

I consider the teachings of Dr. Price to be compatible with a number of Paleo and Primal diets.

I support, respect, and admire the Paleo and Primal movements.

We have so much in common. We are all looking for an alternative to the horrible modern diet which has destroyed the health of so many people. We all reject modern processed foods in favor of real food, food that humans have thrived on for uncounted years. We are all trying to base our diets on the wisdom of our ancestors. So many of us have had amazing health benefits from following the food wisdom of our ancestors. We are natural allies. We should unite politically to protect our access to real food. We should support, encourage, share what we know, and learn from each other. And many of us have been doing exactly that.

 

The Many Diets of Doctor Price

As many of us know, Dr. Price traveled the world for ten years, visiting and studying various peoples who were eating the traditional diets of their ancestors. Each one of these traditional people had relatives who were eating a modern diet in a nearby town or city, so Dr. Price was able to compare the teeth and health of those who ate traditional food to those who ate modern food. Dr. Price found that the people eating their traditional diets had perfect teeth, despite having no dental care, and were free of the modern chronic diseases that cripple and kill so many people in modern cultures, both then and today. In other words, they had no cancer, no heart disease, no birth defects, not arthritis, no asthma, no allergies, no tuberculosis, none of the modern chronic diseases. They were so much healthier than we are, in so many ways. Yet, the relatives of those people, if they made the terrible mistake of eating modern foods, lost their teeth, and suffered from all of the chronic modern diseases, unlike their cousins who ate like their ancestors.

No two of the diets studied by Dr. Price were alike. There were peoples who ate traditionally prepared grains and dairy, along with meat and vegetables. There were peoples who ate meat, dairy, and vegetables, but no grains. There were peoples who ate only the animals they hunted, and ate no dairy, grains, or vegetables. Most of these peoples ate wild seafood, but some had no access to it. All of these peoples were healthy and free of chronic disease, with perfect teeth. And they had essentially no modern medical care, and no dentistry. So we know for a fact that all of these ancestral diets worked wonderfully for human beings.

Yet, all of these diets had something in common. They all ate meat, and they all consumed large amounts of animal fat, and/or fish fat. They all fermented various foods, a process that both preserved foods and increased the nutritional value. They all had sacred foods, foods that they valued above all others. These sacred foods were rich in animal or fish fat, including such items as organ meats, fish eggs, and butter. None of these peoples ate modern processed foods, even the kinds that were available in the 1930s.

So you can follow the research results of Dr. Price, and eat or avoid a wide variety of foods. You do not have to eat grains. You do not have to eat dairy. As long as you eat real, unmodified food, and eat plenty of natural animal fat, and avoid modern processed foods, you are on the path. You can also add in traditionally prepared grains and/or dairy, and still be on the path. It depends on how you respond to various foods, what you can get, how much work you are willing to put into it, and the condition of your body. The choice is yours, and I respect your right to make it.

 

The Many Diets of Paleo and Primal

There is no single Paleo or Primal diet. There are dozens of variations. Some allow some dairy and/or grains. Some do not. These diets are constantly evolving and changing as more is learned, a healthy and vital process that is great for the movement. Yet, all of these diets seek to eat the foods that our ancestors thrived on, and look to the wisdom of our ancestors in choosing food. Many of them seek to eat foods similar to those eaten before the advent of agriculture. No one knows for sure what Paleolithic people ate. We can make some pretty good guesses, based on what people without agriculture or herds have eaten in recorded history, and based on what some of the peoples studied by Dr. Price ate. Some of the details of what we do know are surprising. For example, some people who had no dairy animals ate animal milk. They did so by killing female animals, and eating the milk they found in the body. They would also kill young animals, such as bison calves, and eat the milk they found in the digestive system of the animal. We know that the Native Americans did this, and there is no reason to believe that any people who lived by hunting did not do the same. My point is that ancestral eating covers a huge range of foods.

I have spent a huge amount of time lurking on various Paleo and Primal blogs, and reading a huge number of articles. It is clear to me that no one in the movement actually wants to dig in the earth for bugs, or grab a spear and hunt for mammoth. The focus is on eating the foods of our ancestors, the foods we have eaten for a very long time, the foods that our bodies are accustomed to, the foods that we thrive on. That is a wonderful goal, and I share it.

 

What Does the Weston A. Price Foundation Actually Do about Paleo and Primal?

I am speaking only from my own observations, as I do not speak for the Weston A. Price Foundation. As I see it, the view of WAPF has changed with the evolvement and change of the Paleo and Primal movements.

The initial book by Dr. Cordain advocated a low-fat diet, which was totally opposed to the teachings of Dr. Price, and the book was not well received for that reason, and others. But many in the Paleo and Primal movements understand the value of traditional animal fats, and even Dr. Cordain has backed off that position. One of the things I love about these movements is the willingness to learn and change as more is discovered. And these changes in position have had an impact.

I think it is the most recent actions of WAPF that are most relevant to the issue. In March 2012, my friend Sarah Pope, a member of the board of the Weston A. Price Foundation, attended the PaleoFX12 convention is Austin, Texas, as a representative of the Weston A. Price Foundation. Sarah took part in a panel discussion, had a wonderful time, and had her picture taken with some Paleo leaders, such as Robb Wolf and Nora Gedgaudas. She wrote two positive blog posts about the conference, and mentioned how the Paleo movement “has much in common with the nutritional principles of Dr. Price.” It is clear that the hand of friendship was extended and accepted. And that is exactly the way it should be.

 

The Paleo, Primal, and Price Movements Are Already Learning from each Other

Anyone who reads a number of Paleo blogs knows that many Paleo people like the teachings of Dr. Price and WAPF, and have adopted some of the traditional methods of food preparation taught by WAPF. In fact, I have seen a great deal of praise for Price and WAPF methods on many Primal blogs and forums. Conversely, many Price followers have learned from the Primal and Paleo communities and changed their diets. I have three good friends who have followed a WAPF diet for years. They have experienced great health benefits, but have had some bad problems at times. All three of my friends have modified their diets by adopting some Paleo principles, including avoiding grains, and have had wonderful results with their customized “Price-Paleo” diets.

I myself have adopted some Paleo and Primal ideas in what I eat, and the results have been great!

All of us are individuals, we are all different, and what works for some may not work for all. But friendship between the Paleo, Primal, and Price movements benefits all of us.

I am grateful for the Weston A. Price Foundation, whose priceless knowledge enabled me to save my life and restore my health. And I am grateful to the Paleo and Primal movements, which have inspired so many people to reject SAD and adopt ancestral eating, and has taught me some valuable lessons.

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This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

 

 


Debunking the “Healthiest Meal Ever”

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

English Style Prime Rib, page 86, Tender Grassfed Meat

English Style Prime Rib, recipe on page 86, Tender Grassfed Meat

A group of British scientists, who specialize in food research, have designed a menu that they call “the healthiest meal ever.” Their list of dishes and ingredients does not even address the idea of where the food comes from, treating organic and chemical-free as being the same as factory and chemical-processed. While this is a common practice for food scientists, it totally destroys the validity of their argument. Just as bad, the “healthiest meal ever” boasts of avoiding saturated fats, being low-fat, and avoiding the ultimate demon, cholesterol. Never mind that the entire “low-fat is good—cholesterol is death” scam has long been exposed as invalid. This meal also leaves out the healthiest food ever—grassfed meat. Healthiest meal ever? Allow me to disagree, from a real food perspective.

Bear in mind that I have been unable to find the actual recipes, so this debunking is based on the information that has been reported.

The courses in the “healthiest meal ever” will be looked at individually. These are the courses:

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Terrine

Wild salmon is actually a very healthy food. But farmed salmon, the most common kind, is very different in flavor and composition. Farmed salmon is not allowed to roam the ocean as nature intended, and is usually fed food pellets, which is not their natural diet. In fact, many food pellets contain GMO soy, which is something salmon have never eaten before the twentieth century. Farmed salmon are so different from wild salmon that their flesh is colored white, not orange. A dye is added before the fish hit the market to fake the natural orange color of real wild salmon. The scientists fail to specify whether the salmon are wild or farmed, treating them as the same, which is a mistake. Since almost all Atlantic salmon are farmed, this dish would almost certainly be made of farmed salmon. And the other ingredients in the terrine are not even mentioned. Healthy? Not in my book.

Mixed Leaf Salad with Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This also sounds good at first glance. But no specification is made as to whether the vegetables should be grown without chemicals. If they are grown with chemicals, they contain pesticides, which are not healthy. No specification is made as to whether the vegetables are grown with artificial fertilizer or in rich natural soil. This makes all the difference when it comes to nutrient content, as vegetables grown with artificial fertilizer have far less. Even the types of leaf vegetables are not specified. This is an important omission because some raw leafy greens, such as spinach, contain large amounts of oxalic acid, a substance that prevents the body from absorbing vital minerals, such as calcium. To imply that any leaf salad, no matter what the vegetable is, is healthy is simply not true. This might not be so healthy, after all.

High-Fibre Multigrain Bread Roll

This does not sound even remotely healthy. Adding additional grain fiber to bread is a modern practice, not done by our ancestors. We can get all the fiber we need from fruits and vegetables, just like our ancestors did, for uncounted thousands of years. Many people cannot digest modern grains, and many are gluten-intolerant. Since high-fiber is specified, the grains are almost certainly whole grains, which contain large amounts of phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Phytic acid can be neutralized through traditional soaking and sprouting techniques, but those methods are not even mentioned. The grains contained in the “multigrain bread roll” are not specified. Chances are overwhelming that it contains unfermented GMO soy, a substance full of toxins and mock female hormones, both as a “grain” and in the form of soy lecithin. It quite likely contains other GMOs, especially if it contains corn. Once again, the ingredients almost certainly come from grains grown with chemicals and pesticides. Chemicals and pesticides are not healthy. Processed grains like this are high in refined carbohydrates, which have an effect on the body similar to processed sugar. Healthy? Not in my opinion.

Chicken Casserole with Lentils and Mixed Vegetables

When I first read the title of this item, I let out a loud and heartfelt “Yuck!” My wife came over to investigate, and her face twisted in revulsion as she read the title. This dish sounds so horrible, both in title and content, that it could be an entrée in an American school cafeteria. Once again, no attention is paid to where the ingredients come from, treating organic the same as conventional. This dish is touted as “low-fat” and “low-sodium.” This can only mean that the chicken consists of the most boring meat on earth, skinless, boneless, tasteless, flavorless, chicken breast, most likely from a factory farm where the chickens never see the sun, are fed GMO corn and GMO soy, and are confined in crates. Of course, no specifications as to where the chickens should come from are made. The difference between true free-range chickens and factory chickens is huge. The lentils are almost certainly conventionally grown with chemicals. The “mixed vegetables” are not specified, are almost certainly grown with chemicals and pesticides, and could even come out of a can. It is quite likely that some of them are GMO. This is one dish that probably tastes just as bad as it sounds, like it came from an American school cafeteria. Not healthy to me.

Live Yogurt-Based Blancmange Topped with Walnuts and Sugar-Free Caramel-Flavored Sauce

While the yogurt sounds good, A blancmange always contains plenty of processed sugar. Walnuts can be healthy, but no distinction is made between walnuts grown with chemicals and walnuts grown without chemicals. The sugar-free caramel-flavored sauce almost certainly contains a number of artificial ingredients, especially artificial sweeteners, and does not even qualify as food, let alone as something healthy. I would not even taste this.

Now, it has been said that the British cannot cook, and this menu would seem to support that rumor, started by the French, I believe. However, I have had enough traditional English food to know that English food can be delicious. In fact, a traditional English dish was featured in the meal I am about to describe, and it was wonderful, both in taste and nutrition.

My Idea of a Much Healthier and Infinitely Tastier Meal

Since I feel I have an obligation not just to complain, but to come up with a better alternative, I will do so. Every ingredient in this meal was free of chemicals, raised on grass or on good soil.

The meal my lovely wife prepared for Father’s Day will do, as it was absolutely delicious and loaded with valuable nutrients. The menu contained:

Homemade Salmon Broth

This was made from wild salmon heads, stomachs, and collars, simmered for twelve hours. Loaded with the nutritional bounty of the sea, and delicious and invigorating.

Grassfed English Style Prime Rib (from Tender Grassfed Meat)

The king of roasts, a magnificent cut from U.S. Wellness Meats, full of grassfed goodness and nutrition, restoring, rejuvenating, delicious and satisfying beyond dreams.

Pan-Roasted Organic Yukon Gold Potatoes

These magnificent potatoes were cooked in the same pan as the prime rib, roasting in the delicious beef fat as the roast cooked, crisp on the outside, hot and tender on the inside, rich with the nutrients that come from good soil and grassfed fat.

Organic Carrots Cooked with Butter and Garlic

These deep orange carrots were naturally sweet, and savory, redolent with the wonderful combination of pastured butter and garlic, which are very healthy foods in their own right.

Crimini Mushrooms Sautéed in Butter

Butter and mushrooms are magic together, and the wonderful flavor of the deeply colored mushrooms combined perfectly with the pastured butter to make a simple, yet delicious masterpiece.

Roasted Organic Onions

These onions, rich with special nutrients, were roasted right along with the prime rib, and came out with a wonderful, caramelized, sweet and rich flavor.

Homemade Fermented Cilantro Salsa

This homemade condiment, made with cilantro, green onions, tomatoes and garlic fresh from the Farmers’ Market, provided the special nutrients of fermented raw vegetables, while perfectly complimenting the rich, deep taste of the prime rib.

Apricots in Season

These apricots, fresh from the Farmers’ Market, in season, smelled wonderful, tasted better than they smelled, contributed valuable nutrients, and were the perfect dessert for this magnificent meal.

Now, would you rather have my meal, or the one created by the English scientists?

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat Tuesday, Real Food Wednesday, and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.

Improve Your Terrain and Natural Functions with Real Food and Grassfed Meat

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

Cool, refreshing, nutritious traditional drink Ayran with electrolytes.

This cooling, traditional yogurt drink, known as Ayran, is full of beneficial bacteria.

I have been thinking recently about why real food, including grassfed meat, has made such a huge difference in my health and wellbeing. After all, I had been brought up to believe that healing could only come from doctors and medicine, and that I should do everything the doctor says. The very phrase “just what the doctor ordered” shows the power our culture gives this profession. Yet, the medical profession failed me completely. When there was nothing else they could do, I had to go somewhere else. Eventually, strengthening the natural functions of my body by avoiding toxins and bad foods, and eating real food and grassfed meat, restored me to good health. No doctor, drug, or medical procedure was involved.

This used to be puzzling to me, after all, everybody knows that bacteria are bad, and cause almost all disease. We are also taught that the only way to restore health is to kill the bad germs through medical procedures. But the chronic respiratory infections I used to get many times a year just stopped happening, a few months after my diet changed. Why?

The answer lies in a conflict of scientific theories, between Louis Pasteur and Claude Bernard. Almost everyone has heard of Pasteur, whose theories are the basis of modern medicine. But almost nobody has heard of Bernard. Yet, based on my own experience, Bernard was right.

 

Pasteur and Bernard

Louis Pasteur was a French scientist whose theories are the basis of much of modern medicine. Pasteur became famous when he developed a way to help the French wine industry deal with mold, a problem that had become so bad that the very existence of French wines was in jeopardy. Pasteur also developed the process that bears his name, Pasteurization, which is used to supposedly make milk safe to drink.

Pasteur believed that most disease was caused by bacteria and germs, and that killing these small microorganisms was the key to fighting disease and healing most illnesses. This theory is accepted by the modern medical profession, and governments, who try to control disease by killing germs and bacteria. Pasteur incorrectly taught that humans should have no bacteria at all, and all bacteria should be killed. We have learned that humans have a symbiotic relationship with certain bacteria, which are absolutely necessary for digestion and the proper functioning of the immune system, and other purposes. These are now called “good” bacteria.

Bernard, who lived and taught at the time of Pasteur, had a very different view. He saw bacteria as necessary to the proper functioning of the human body. He also taught that bacteria could change inside the body, going from beneficial to harmful, or from harmful to beneficial. Bernard believed that the form taken by the bacteria was completely dependent upon what he called the “terrain,” which was the actual condition of the body. As long as the body was well-nourished, well-exercised, and healthy, the bacteria inside the body would be beneficial and protective. But if the “terrain” was damaged, through injury, or malnutrition, or trauma, some of the bacteria would change to a pathenogenic form that would harm the body, cause disease, and even death. Conversely, if you improved the “terrain” through nutrition and other means, the bacteria would change back to a beneficial form and stop harming the body. To Bernard, the condition of the “terrain” was everything.

In other words, there were two very different theories. One tried to cure by killing bacteria and viruses. The other tried to cure by strengthening the body, which would cause the bad bacteria to be gone, by changing form.

On his deathbed, Pasteur is reported to have said, “The germ is nothing, the terrain is everything.”

 

Improving the Terrain

The two theories are not completely opposed to each other. It is generally recognized that a strong, well-functioning immune system enables people to fight off disease. And someone who is afflicted by an infection may well need help to fight the infection and give their body a chance to recover. And it is true that the body will fight and kill harmful bacteria and viruses.

But nobody that I know is opposed to a body that functions well, or, in other words, a body with great “terrain.” So how do we improve the “terrain”?

The route I have taken is to avoid toxins, emissions, and poisons, and to eat the nutritious foods of our ancestors. I have also come to realize the importance of avoiding stress, avoiding anger and fear, and getting enough sleep. All these things improve my “terrain,” and should help most people.

 

Avoiding Toxins

This is very difficult to do in a world polluted with chemical poisons. But you can do many things to reduce the amount of chemicals and toxins that enter your body. To me, this means avoiding all food and items that contain added chemicals, to the extent possible. Since chemicals are everywhere, this requires learning about the toxins and how to reduce your exposure to them. Two of the most basic ways you can do this is to eat only foods that are organic or the equivalent and drink filtered water. The best source I know for the right way to eat is contained on the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation, which has a huge number of online articles on many important subjects. This was how I learned the truths that enabled me to rebuild my “terrain” and restore my natural functions, which has resulted in the best health of my life. I have had no reason to see a doctor for over ten years now.

It is important to filter water, as water contains many toxins such as fluoride, aluminum, chlorine, drug-residue, and many others.

 

Eating Real Food and Grassfed Meat

This was, without doubt, the key part of my journey to health. Real food is the food of our ancestors, raised, cooked and eaten without the use of chemicals. It does not include GMOs or flavor enhancers. It merely includes food, and nothing else. I found that eating grassfed meat was the key to rebuilding my body to strength and vitality. Many traditional peoples used meat for this purpose. Only grassfed meat has had this effect on me, as the factory meats raised with chemicals and unnatural feeds just did not help me. Using cooking methods similar to those of our ancestors is also important, as modern cookware is often full of toxins that can leach into the food.

 

Avoiding Stress, Fear, and Anger

There is a good deal of stress in life. But most stress is created not so much by what actually happens, as by how we think of it. Stress causes the body to produce free radicals that actually damage the body, harming the “terrain” and hampering the natural functions. Fear and anger have a similar effect, causing the release of chemicals that pump the body up to take drastic fight-or-flight action, which is useful only if you are fighting or running. These chemicals also harm the “terrain,” and interfere with the natural functions. I try to cultivate a happy, peaceful attitude, and to avoid stressful situations to the extent that I reasonably can. I also choose to avoid responding with fear or anger, to the extent reasonably possible, by thinking positively when I can. I have also found that focusing on happy thoughts, by paying attention to and enjoying the many good things that happen seems to help the “terrain.” After all, feeling good feels much better than being scared or angry. There are times when it is very hard to avoid fear or anger or stress, but to the extent there is a choice, I choose to avoid them.

I am not a medical professional, and I can only use my own experience as my guide. I am sharing that experience, and my thoughts on what happened to me. But, for me, I am confident that improving my “terrain” through real food and grassfed meat enabled the natural functions of my body to function well, and improved my “terrain,” as did taking a more positive view of life.

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Why Taste Enhancers Should Be Avoided and How to Do It

By Stanley A. Fishman, author of Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue

The smell of good food cooking like the smoke of good wood and barbecued grassfed meat is the only taste enhancer needed.

The smell of good food cooking is the only taste enhancer needed.

What if the food you ate was spiked with a chemical that caused you to have hallucinations? A chemical that distorted what you saw to the extent that you could not trust your eyes, because the chemical was causing your brain to see things that were not there? A chemical that caused you to see things the manufacturer and seller wanted you to see?

Would you object to such a chemical? Would you want such a deceptive chemical banned from the food supply?

Almost every person would. After all, we need to be able to trust what we see with our own eyes, to get accurate information from our senses. Yet you almost certainly have ingested many chemicals designed to deceive and trick your senses. Except the sense they deceive is not your eyesight, but your taste.

These chemicals are known as taste enhancers. If they appear on a food label at all (and they often do not), they can be called artificial flavors, or a host of other names.

The purpose of these chemicals is to trick your mind into believing it is eating something that is not there. Since our sense of taste serves many important functions, these functions are also deceived by this false information, and cannot function accurately. These chemicals have one purpose, to get you to buy the product they are placed in.

The Importance of Taste

We have over ten thousand taste buds in our mouths and tongue. They are there for a reason. The reasons include these:

  • To detect poison
  • To detect food that is good to eat
  • To detect spoiled food
  • To detect the presence of nutrients in a particular food
  • To signal the digestive system so it can properly prepare to digest the food that is coming
  • To stimulate the production of and release of saliva with the right mix of enzymes to predigest the food as we chew it
  • To regulate our appetite
  • To let us know when we have had enough

There are many other functions, almost certainly including functions we have not yet discovered. An accurate sense of taste is vital to our knowing what and how much to eat. For most of human history, we could trust our sense of taste. It protected us from harm, and provided the best possible feedback on how much we should eat.

I consider it crucial to have accurate taste feedback at all times. If the natural taste of something is really bad, or even a bit off, our body is telling us not to eat it. If the natural taste of something is really good, our body is telling us that we need the nutrients in that food, and to keep eating it. If we have eaten enough of a particular food, the taste changes, and we know when we have had enough.

For example, the first bite of a perfectly cooked grassfed steak will make me want to eat more, as it tastes so good. But after I have swallowed the nutrients that I need, the steak no longer tastes as good. My body is letting me know that I have had enough. If I were to force myself to eat more, the taste would become worse and worse. This is nature’s way of letting us know when we need to eat more of something, and when we need to eat less. If you eat only real food, cooked with the traditions of our ancestors, your sense of taste should work properly to let you know what to eat and how much. Since every one of us is unique, this is much more useful, in my opinion, than “one size fits all” nutritional guidelines.

But if you eat food spiked with taste enhancing chemicals, it is a different story.

The Trouble with Taste Enhancers

The first widespread flavor enhancer was Monosodium Glutamate, also known as MSG, which was invented in Japan. During World War II, American soldiers eating captured Japanese rations were astonished by how good they tasted. This lead to the widespread use of MSG in the American food industry, and to the creation of many other flavor enhancers.

Taste enhancers work on a neurological level, which means that they deceive the senses and directly affect the brain. Some make food appear to taste much better than it actually does. Others fool your brain and body into thinking you are eating meat, even when you are not. Others convince your brain that you are experiencing a particular taste, but you are not. This gives false information to your body and brain, and your natural functions act according to this false information. There are literally hundreds, perhaps thousands, of chemical combinations that are used to enhance and create taste in processed foods, and in fast foods. They are created and modified by skilled chemists who are trying to create a particular taste or effect. Unfortunately, these chemists are very good at their jobs.

Why are taste enhancers used? To enhance profits. Processed foods and factory foods are designed for long shelf life. They often contain many ingredients whose natural taste is foul and revolting to humans. They are processed, often heavily, to remove these foul tastes, and often have very little flavor. Tasteless foods often contain fewer nutrients than tasty foods. If the flavor was not enhanced to be better, much better than it naturally is, very few people would eat these products, because they just would not taste good enough. While giving a false good taste to inferior processed foods is a major reason for the use of taste enhancers, it is not the only one.

Taste enhancers can get you to eat more and more of a particular food. They do this by sending false information to your brain that makes you believe that you want to eat more and more of the food they are added to. The problem is made even worse by the poor nutritional content of factory and packaged foods, which makes your body hungry for nutrients which are not there. This combination is one explanation why so many people will eat a whole bag of cookies, or pint of ice cream, or huge amounts of soft drinks, cereal, fast foods, and any number of other factory foods. Obviously, if people eat more and more of a product, profits are enhanced. Getting us to eat much more food than we actually need is a big key to the profits of the food industry. These chemicals can be so effective that they totally override the natural appetite control built into our sense of taste.

A third and related use is to get our brains to crave a particular product. If you crave a particular fast food item, or packaged food, what you really crave is the chemicals used to enhance its taste. I still have a craving for a particular fast food item. I have had that item only once in the last ten years, yet I still crave it. When I ate it, I wanted to eat more and more of it, no matter how much I had. I tried it a few months ago, just to see what would happen. I ordered a small amount, which I quickly wolfed down, much faster than I intended. I immediately wanted to eat more, and more. It took a lot of willpower to leave the place. When I researched the contents of that particular food, I found that it contained several chemical taste enhancers.

The biggest problem with taste enhancers is that they deceive our sense of taste, and reduces its ability to perform its natural functions. Which means that the ability of our sense of taste to prevent us from eating foods that we should not, and to regulate our appetite, is greatly diminished.

The Solution

It takes work, but there are great benefits to avoiding chemicals, eating real food, and helping your body function as it was intended to do. It has made a huge difference in my life, giving me much more harmony, joy, and health. And my sense of taste has improved steadily, greatly increasing my appreciation of the food I eat. And I eat much less than I used to, without effort.

The only way I have found to restore my sense of taste to its proper function is to avoid taste enhancers. This means avoiding all packaged foods, except certain organic items. Even then, I read every label and reject everything that has an ingredient with a scientific or chemical name, or includes the words “flavors,” or “spices.” There are some wonderful traditional fermented foods out there, but I will only buy from a company that I have checked out and trust. To the extent that I can, I cook everything from scratch. I do my best to obtain foods that have been raised without chemicals, and which are traditionally raised on good soil.

I use traditional cooking methods and ingredient combinations. I only eat grassfed meats, or in the case of pork or poultry, meats that are pastured or naturally raised. I generally avoid most restaurants, and I am very careful to know the food of the few restaurants I will eat in. I never eat fast food, except for that experiment I described above.

What if you do not know how to cook? I respectfully advise you to learn. I think cooking is one of the most important skills anyone can have, as it gives you the freedom and ability to eat and prepare food that will be wonderful for you and your loved ones. And, given that we are what we eat, what could be more important?

Is all of this a lot of trouble and work? You bet it is. But it is worth it. Convenience was and is the great temptation that convinced most of us to rely on packaged foods and factory foods. The work of obtaining good food and the work of preparing and cooking them allows my sense of taste to function properly. I eat much less, though I eat as much as I want. I feel content and renewed after every home-cooked meal. I enjoy my meals without any negative consequences. And eating this way has resulted in the best health of my life, by far, as my natural functions work as intended, without being deceived by chemicals.

This post is part of Monday Mania, Fat TuesdayReal Food Wednesday and Fight Back Friday blog carnivals.