Mal-Nourishing Traditions

Lately I’ve been reading Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.  This is one of those books that you hear a lot about in homeschooling circles.  Like many of  those books, Nourishing Traditions thumbs its nose at the establishment.  This time it is the FDA and other medical “experts”, who are pretty much in the pocket of the processed food industry.

So here is what I have learned from every food-related book I have ever read:  For optimal physical and dental health and disease prevention you’re supposed to buy only organic meats, vegetables, and dairy.  But it is better to buy organic products from local farmers for better quality, as a stand against big agri-business, and for the betterment of the environment.  You should avoid as much processed food as possible, but especially those with MSG, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, nitrites, and dyes.  You should also avoid white sugar, brown sugar, white flour, powdered milk, and baking powder.  A high percentage of your diet should include raw foods, and cooked foods should not be over-cooked.  Is that everything?  Oh, wait, did we discuss which types of fats you are and are not supposed to use?

Then you’re supposed to prepare it on wood cutting boards, in stainless steel, cast iron, or stoneware pots, pan, and dishes, with wooden or metal utensils.  You should throw away the microwave.  Your leftovers should only be stored in glass or metal-NO PLASTIC ALLOWED!!  Cleaners should be as natural as possible.

I like having the best information out there, and I agree that the “natural” diet is probably the best one out there.  But I must admit that reading these books is starting to make me a little depressed.  I might as well throw in the towel and accept that my children and I are going to die at a young age of cancer, heart disease, and intestinal viruses from eating affordable but poisonous foods.  Or we are going to starve to death because we can’t afford a whole new kitchen and all organic foods and I would also rather slit my wrists than slave in the kitchen making my own chutney from homemade raw milk whey that none of us would touch with a ten-foot pole in the first place.  And that does not even include all of the ethical and economic considerations tied up into food that play on my Catholic guilt.

I’ve cut 98% of the MSG out of our diet.  We don’t keep sodas in the house, so the kids maybe have one high fructose corn syrup drink a week.  (They aren’t addicted to ketchup the way I am, either.)  We don’t do Kool-Aid very often because of the dyes.  I’ve been mixing the white flour with wheat flour and wheat germ to make my baking flour slightly more healthy.  We switched to natural sea salt.  But I feel like I have hit the wall on healthy eating.

I think about how conditioned my palate has become to the taste of processed foods, I see the pattern being repeated with my own children, and I feel powerless to stop it.  How can I bring myself to cook things that taste awful to us?  Not to mention that I don’t really enjoy cooking to begin with.  It is just slightly above doing laundry on my list of chores.  (At least I can usually have the laundry done in two or three days and have the rest of the week off.)

And I’m starting to think that I may have some sort of eating disorder and maybe I would actually be happier and healthier if I had no clue about the best, natural nutrition.  When I am stressed and busy I don’t eat enough to cover all the calories I burn up.  And now when I do go to grab something I find myself thinking about how many nitrates those corn dogs have, so I just don’t eat anything because nothing else sounds good.

I’m just going to have to accept that I am not a “Whole Foods” kind of person.  Someday I would like to be able to afford organic fruits, vegetables, and meats, but until then, I’ll just need to navigate a course somewhere between all-natural foods and overly-processed ones.  Pray that I don’t go insane in the process.

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4 Comments on “Mal-Nourishing Traditions”

  1. FoodRenegade Says:

    Awww. Don’t be discouraged. Everyone starts somewhere! You obviously care about your family and want to make good choices, and that’s all anyone can ask of you.

    My own journey towards real food was slow, and is still going on! And there are many of us on the bandwagon who don’t have lots of time, energy, or money.

    But I learned that if you can just make one small change at a time, you’ll accomplish a lot more than you ever imagined. I even blogged about the idea here.

    Plus, I never eat food that tastes bad! Everyone’s tastes are different, so just because some ladies love ultra nutrient-dense oysters and liver doesn’t mean I’ve got to.

    KristenM (foodrenegade)

  2. Joe Says:

    Barbara, I think you pretty well hit the nail on the head here. The big enemies of eating right are 1) expense, 2) time, and 3) taste. I could definitely overcome one and maybe overcome two of those hurdles, but all three is a lot.

    Your comment about Catholic guilt reminds me of something I read a few days ago in Brennan Manning’s book, Ragamuffin Gospel. I’ll post on my blog about it momentarily (when I finish it), but the particular passage concerned his dillema as a young Catholic, eating a hot dog on Friday night at Yankee Stadium. The whole thing was hilarious in a sad, but true kind of way… anyway, more on that when I talk about the book. In the meanwhile, know that you’re not alone in a) eating not so well, b) wishing you were eating better and c) not really knowing what you realistically can do differently anyway.


  3. Kelly Says:

    I loved Nourishing Traditions. It was the only book I’ve ever read where I found half to be completely crazy, and the other half making complete sense. That’s the book which gave me my love of homemade chicken broth.

    As they say in LLL, take what works for you and your family and leave the rest. Every change you can make still benefits your nutrition, and if you’re happy with the rest of it, then it doesn’t really matter.

  4. Milehimama Says:

    I got Nourishing Traditions from the library, after having it on my wishlist at Amazon for years!

    I took what I needed from the book and left the rest behind.

    Don’t worry so much! Make one small change, like committing to eat one yellow or orange vegetable a week or reducing your transfat intake.

    I have no patience for recipes that take up way too much time and effort and taste… meh. Everyone’s family is different and every one’s palate is different, and SOMETHING is better than NOTHING, KWIM?

    I’m not convinced that powdered milk is the devil, yet, either.

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