Many people are starting to realize that the traditional food of our ancestors, real food, is much better for us than the chemical-drenched industrial stuff turned out by the big food industry. Fruits and vegetables grown without chemicals, grassfed and pastured meats, real dairy, traditional fermented foods, and other traditional foods, have nourished humankind for thousands of years, and are so much better than the factory stuff, both in taste and nutrition. Real food generally is more expensive, and is harder to find. But it is truly worth it, as you feel so much better and are likely to experience great improvements in your health, vitality, mood, mental functions, and general quality of life. Real food does a great job of supporting the natural functions. After all, real food has been supporting our bodies for uncounted thousands of years, and our bodies have adapted to thrive on it. Factory food has only been around since the twentieth century, and new artificial ingredients and processes are introduced every year.
But real food comes with a hidden price. It is not convenient. If you are really going to switch completely to real food, someone in your family is going to have to cook it. And that someone might as well be you.
The Death of Real Cooking
Once, America was full of fantastic home cooks who were proud of their cooking. This was not limited to women, as many men were proud of their skill at barbecuing and cooking meat. Cooking knowledge was passed down from generation to generation. Home-cooked food was so good that restaurants had a very hard time competing, and had to struggle to provide food that was even better than home-cooked. This posed a huge problem to the processed food industry, as it slithered into existence. Why would anyone want to eat their dead, relatively tasteless food? Much research was done, and three answers were found:
The first was to claim that packaged, factory foods were more “scientific,” and modern. People in the early twentieth century were in awe of science, and this argument alone was enough to get many people to give up lard and switch to hydrogenated vegetable fats, for example.
The second was to claim that certain traditional foods were “unhealthy,” and to finance “scientific” research to prove the so called “unhealthiness.” This was even more successful, persuading hundreds of millions of people to give up the sacred foods of their ancestors for inferior processed substitutes.
But the third technique was the most effective. Convenience. Factory packaged foods were designed to be convenient to prepare. It was much easier to add a few ingredients to a mix, or heat something in the oven or a pan, than to actually cook from scratch. Or you could pour factory dry cereal directly into a bowl, add a few things, or not, and eat it with no preparation at all. The advent of the microwave made things even faster and more convenient, as you could “nuke” a huge variety of packages for just a few minutes, and have something resembling a meal.
It took absolutely no skill or knowledge to prepare food this way, and most Americans simply gave up on cooking. Today, it is estimated that two-thirds of American adults do not know how to cook, though they can pop a package in a microwave, or pour cereal into a bowl, or buy a pre-made salad at the supermarket. People eat a huge portion of their meals at fast food joints or restaurants. But this convenience comes at a terrible price. Malnutrition. Most Americans suffer from malnutrition without even knowing it. Processed and factory foods are far inferior to real food in supporting the natural functions of our bodies. Chronic illness is at an all time high, and many of the afflicted are young adults, which is something new and disturbing. In fact, the physical condition of American youth has deteriorated to such a degree that 75% of those who try to join the military are rejected as being physically unfit to serve.
I believe that switching to real food is the ultimate solution to these problems, and it certainly worked for me and many others. But you cannot get real food out of a package, or just nuke it in a microwave and expect to have a meal. Real food requires real cooking.
Many people complain about the cost of real food, but I believe in the truth of the old saying, “Pay the farmer or pay the doctor.”
The Return to Real Cooking
I cook just about everything from scratch, using real food ingredients. And the benefits to my well being have been enormous. I have gone from being chronically ill to healthy. If you are not used to cooking, learning how to cook might seem overwhelming. But it can be far easier than you might think. Real home cooking is simple, and consists of learning certain skills which are well within the abilities of most people. You do not need to be a fancy chef. And I will share a little secret with you. The more you cook, the easier it gets, if you are on the right path. Eventually, it becomes second nature, like riding a bicycle. And the real food you prepare will taste so much better. And you can take pride in the fact that every meal you make is truly nourishing and helping the natural functions of the people you feed, helping them to feel better and be better in every way. Another benefit is the sheer pleasure you can bring to others with a tasty, home-cooked meal of real food.
There are some excellent resources for learning how to cook real food. The Weston A. Price Foundation has a series of instructional cooking videos on their website, which are very informative and well done. I also recommend Sally Fallon Morell’s excellent cookbook, Nourishing Traditions as a great basic cookbook. It is also full of valuable nutritional information. When it comes to grassfed meat, I recommend what I use, Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue. I use them regularly. I designed them to be easy to use and traditional. While the inspiration is traditional, I have adapted these traditions to the modern kitchen.
There are other resources, as well, but learning how to cook real food is a very important part of receiving the benefits of real food. Real food deserves real cooking.
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