Monday, November 4, 2013

Food and health

I've been thinking about food and health.  We all have our opinions - low carb, low fat, grass fed meat, raw milk, no dairy, vegetarian, vegan - the list goes on and on.  And everyone can find plenty of "data" to back up their opinions.  Dr. Weston A. Price (my food guru) studied long lived peoples all over the world, and something that stood out was that healthy indigenous peoples ate copious amounts of fat (no polyunsaturated fat), raw milk and fermented food /soaked grains.  And when these healthy people were introduced to our Western diet, full of sugar and processed foods, they became ill.  So it sounds like a pretty resounding endorsement for upping our fat intake and cutting out sugar, both of which I have done.

However (and isn't there always a "however"?), even though this old body just can't tolerate sugar and carbohydrates in general, I know people who can, who remain slim in spite of indulging in potatoes and apples, who don't suffer from depression after eating a couple of cookies, who don't have to use lettuce in place of bread when making a sandwich, and who don't make their pizza dough out of shredded cheese and eggs.  (Yup, I do that, and it is REALLY good.)

I know one woman who couldn't wait to get out of her household as a teenager so she wouldn't be forced to eat meat anymore; can't stand it, hasn't eaten a bite of it since leaving for college.  She is slim, energetic and healthy.  So there you have it.  No single magic bullet so far as food and health are concerned.

I'm thinking, "Perhaps it is something else altogether."  Are there other reasons, such as the Western lifestyle that goes with the Western diet?  I was in the bookstore perusing cookbooks.  And I was thinking of how many famous cooks live to a ripe old age.
  • James Beard - died at 82, and he ate plenty of bread!
  • Julia Child - died at 92, and ate plenty of butter
  • François Massialot - died at 77 in the 18th century, French chef and cookbook author 
  • Georges Auguste Escoffier - died at 88 in the 20th century
  •  Prosper Montagne - died at 83 in 1948, author of Larousse gastronomique
  • Jacques Pépin - 77 and still going strong
I'm having a hard time finding a truly fine chef who checked out early from poor health.

What do/did they have in common?  They ate well.  The ingredients were good, the methods of cooking were good, and the end result was a feast for the eyes and the nose as well as the taste buds.  And they were doing what they loved - including loving to eat.

The age-old question "Do you eat to live or live to eat?" seems to imply, at least to me, that perhaps some of us, such as I, are too focused on food, that the healthiest among us just eat when hungry, when it is time, and eat what is available in the fridge and cupboard.

I am rethinking that attitude of mine - perhaps it is the "live to eat" part that is the most important.  I love to cook.  I love to shop for food.  I am so delighted that I work at the Farmers Market in South Bend, and belong to Purple Porch, and live on a certified organic farm so that I can eat my own grass fed meat, drink raw milk, make my own cheese, eat eggs from free range chickens.   Food is a daily delight in my life.

Yup, I live to eat, and I think perhaps that is a good thing!  And I love what I do to earn my living - very much associated with food.  Now it is time to cook another great breakfast - bacon from Berkshire pigs raised right here on organic feed, eggs collected yesterday from my friends the hens, a cup of espresso, and some thick and luscious kefir made from raw milk from cows I am looking at.

Bon appetit.