What is Real Food?
By: Dr. Peggy Malone
What is Real Food? This might be a question that you’ve never considered.
Well this may mean different things to different people but I’m going to explore today what it means to me.
Let’s first start off with a few bits of information to set the stage.
Human beings have been eating food for thousands of generations and it’s only in the last 3 or 4 generations (in the last 100 years) that there has been a massive shift in what we are putting into our bodies on a regular basis.
We have access to the most modern research, science, healthcare and knowledge and despite this; we human beings have gotten to a place in the last 50 years where we are unhealthier than ever before.
How can this be?
Well, not all science and progress is a good thing. Just because we can do something with an assortment of chemicals and make something that tastes good and will keep for years doesn’t mean we should… and it certainly doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to eat that crafty science project on a regular basis. That would be messing Mother Nature right?
Well, guess what? This is exactly what most of us have been doing for most of our lives.
I’m no exception. I was raised eating boxed breakfast cereal, processed lunch meat and chemical laden macaroni and cheese washed down with Coca Cola.
Processed foods were the norm. You probably grew up with a similar story (and if you didn’t… awesome).
80% of the ‘food’ in our modern day grocery stores didn’t exist at all 100 years ago.
Much of what the average North American is eating is not really food at all… it’s edible food-like products.
In his book: Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World, Joel Salatin says, “The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago. Until then, where was all the food? Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.”
It’s only in the last few years that I have realized the important fact that what you eat is the fuel for everything that you are in this life. You’ve heard it before:
You Are What You Eat
This is something I’ve heard all my life but didn’t really understand the importance of until I started to have some health issues and what I ate (and didn’t eat) became the ‘medicine’ that cured me.
So let’s go back to the original question of this post…
What is Real Food?
- Real food is food that has been eaten for thousands of years by our ancestors without ever really changing.
- Real food doesn’t have a list of ingredients
- Real food is whole, simple and nutrient dense.
- Real food goes bad (rots)
- Real food has a recent connection to the earth or to an animal walking (or swimming) the earth
- Real food is rarely packaged
- Real food ate real food
- Real food is not processed, engineered or manufactured
Food writer Michael Pollen gives the following list of rules for food.
If you follow these rules you will be, most of the time, within the boundaries of what defines Real Food (in my opinion.)
- Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.
- Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.
- Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
- Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually rot. “There are exceptions — honey — but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren’t food.”
- It is not just what you eat but how you eat. “Always leave the table a little hungry,” “Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, ‘Tie off the sack before it’s full.'”
- Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It’s a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love.
- Don’t buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
Here’s the bottom line: Just Eat Real Food (JERF)
How do you define Real Food?
Dr. Peggy Malone is a Chiropractor and an Athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport. Her weekly Television Series 'Living Well" inspires people from all walks of life to take control of their health to be as happy and as healthy as they can be.
A former varsity Basketball and Rugby player, she has since entered the world of endurance athletics where she has completed 2 Ironman Triathlons, 3 Marathons, several Half Marathons and many other Triathlons, Road Races and Off-Road Adventure races of varying distances.
Her own athletic endeavors and injuries have given her valuable insight into working with athletes in her practice for both the care of injuries as well as for the improvement of athletic performance.