Fresh, Local & Seasonal
We should try to become locavores, and eat fresh, local and seasonal food. Buying local helps to ensure freshness, and buying seasonal helps to promote a more varied diet. Both will improve our nutrient status. We should be striving to support our local growers of fruit and vegetables, taking the time to savour buying our food and interacting with the community that we live in – these are all vital components of a healthy, sustainable and ecologically sound lifestyle.
Dig for Victory was the successful wartime mantra, calling on everyone in Britain to keep an allotment. For those who do not want to dig, seek out farmers’ markets in your area, or visit a local greengrocer. Discover where your local food comes from. At the very least, avoid fruit and vegetables that have travelled thousands of miles. The mass transportation of food from production to supermarkets across the globe has a significant negative impact on the environment.
The milling and refining of grain has become the norm. This process removes the husk, the membrane and the germ. With wheat refining, 79% of the fibre, 70% of the minerals, 66% of the B vitamins, 19% of the protein and nearly all the cereal fat is lost. So why is it done? Believe it or not - to improve shelf life.
In this context, it is interesting to observe the feeding behaviour of hamsters when they are given maize kernels. Hamsters eat only the maize germ, where the cereal fat and micronutrients are to be found. We refine out the nutrient rich germ and eat the sterile remains.
In the 1960s, the teaching was that the ideal diet was high in protein and low in carbohydrate and fat. We were also taught that animal protein was better than vegetable protein. In the late 1960s, Denis Burkitt observed that the diet of Ugandans differed from ours, and that they were healthier. They did not get appendicitis, diverticulitis or gallstones. Nor did they get diabetes, high blood pressure, CVD and certain cancers. So we were then taught that the ideal diet was high in carbohydrate, moderate in protein and low in fat. The carbohydrate should be unrefined, so as to be rich in fibre, and the protein could include pulses. Was anyone listening?
Now that most of us have a weight problem, we need to restrict our intake of carbs, which makes it all the more important that the little grain we do consume is whole grain.
But whole food is not just whole grain.
- Fruit is good; fruit juice is not.
- Vegetables are even better, particularly if you have grown them yourself.
- Beans, nuts, pulses, legumes and seeds are all excellent examples of whole food.
- Whole, raw milk is better than 2% pasteurised.
- For the omnivores:
- Meat should be slow cooked, on the bone. The bones should be used to make stock.
- Offal meat (liver, kidney, etc) is the most nutritious.
- Oily fish (sardine, herring, anchovy, salmon, trout, tuna and mackerel) are all excellent.
- With the proviso that any intake of animal protein needs to be modest.
If you shop in markets you are probably buying whole food.
If you shop in supermarkets and buy convenience foods, you are eating junk. Processed foods are easily identified by any of three ingredients: vegetable oil, sugar and MSG. One of these ingredients is cause for alarm. All three guarantees that the food is unnatural and unhealthy. In fact any food that is marketed as ‘healthy’, ‘low fat’ or ‘no added sugar’ should be avoided.