In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual.
Today I trot out a couple more questions that I commonly hear after I reveal that I’ve stopped eating the Food Pyramid and started eating what’s healthy.
In case you’ve just joined us, that means I stopped eating whole grains, excessive amounts of fruit, and very low fat foods and instead started chowing down on animal fats and meats.
Without further ado, then, let’s hit another question. Actually, I’m feeling on my game today so let’s pull two at a time:
Isn’t it expensive?
Don’t I have to do grass-fed beef and free-range chickens?
My answer to this is that your mileage will vary.
For me, personally, it has not been more expensive to eat this way than eating the Gov’mint approved Food Pyramid nonsense. Yes, I buy more meat and meat is more expensive. However, there are confounding factors.
The first is that in my previous diet, I was eating all imported products while living in a certain enormous Asian country. You may or may not be aware that this certain enormous Asian country has food safety issues that make Chernobyl look like the public health equivalent of a scrapped knee: at least in terms of numbers of people harmed and the extent of the harm done. When the government tells you, for example, that half the honey sold in the country is fake–and you know the government typically downplays statistics to control public fear–what do you do? Do you dare buy any honey at all? How about when 60% of the bottled water is fake? What about when the melamine in the baby formula or the pet food gives your child kidney failure or kills the dog? What about when you go to the store and find that sometimes when you bring home eggs, they aren’t eggs at all?
That’s right. We have a huge problem in fake eggs. People are actually paid to sit around brewing a chemical solution that looks vaguely like the inside of an egg and then put it into carefully crafted “shells.” Most people can’t tell them apart till they get them home.
The only thing to do in this situation was to visit the import stores and pay 100% markups on products from abroad. So even though I wasn’t eating much meat, I was already paying a hefty price for my weekly groceries.
The second confounding factor for me is that buying safe, clean meat means buying meat imported from Australia and New Zealand. Delicious, but by no means as affordable as meat is in America.
Sometimes, when I feel like being bad, I browse grocery store websites in America and drool over the endless varieties of cuts that are freely available at reasonable prices.
I know that if you want to get grass-fed beef from cows who ranged freely across the Great Plains, you have to pay. And I know that there’s good evidence to suggest that grass-fed cows, free-range chickens and pastured pigs provide us with meat that is higher in good fats, vitamins, and minerals than their factory-raised, grain-stuffed cousins. But if someone is asking me “isn’t it too expensive?” with that much concern in their voice, I assume that they’re not going to be able to afford nothing but grass-fed beef, free-range chickens, and pastured pork.
You do what you can. Just making the switch from calling Cocoa Puffs a smart breakfast (they’re whole grain!) just because they have the AHA’s sad little ! logo on the side, and instead eating bacon and eggs fried in coconut oil, will do a great deal for your health. Not spiking your blood sugar and inflaming all your arteries in the morning with “healthy” whole wheat toast topped with margarine chemically derived from some plant–instead having a spinach and onion omelet–will make your body very happy.
If you can’t afford all the fancy bison or the grass-fed cows, see if you can at least spring for some grass-fed butter.
Which brings me to another question.
Is this like that Paleo thing?
I love many aspects of the Paleo movement. I wholeheartedly agree with them that this:
is not food.
And I’m totally onboard with ditching the grains, using canola oil only as emergency fuel for lighting after the zombie invasion, and generally eating real food.
But we part company in a few places, though I don’t wish to offend any Paleo eaters. Most of them could run me down and spear me, after all.
For one thing, I embrace dairy. Many in the Paleo movement consider dairy something their ancestors never ate, hence off limits to those trying to re-create the diet they believe man evolved eating.
I, too, think that humans are better suited to eat some things than others. I just don’t see a big problem with good quality dairy. Hard cheeses, plain yogurt, butter, and heavy cream don’t bother me. They don’t give me any kind of stomach trouble or make me gain weight or anything (granted, I don’t eat enormous quantities, and I stay away from milk because of all the lactose) But it does hang up many, many people. You have to make the dairy decision for yourself. There are also issues to be noted between pasteurized dairy and raw dairy. But as far back as we actually have proof of what human beings ate, they’ve been eating dairy.
Another place we part ways is with starchy root vegetables, honey, and fruit. I stay away from them for the most part. Many Paleo eaters love their sweet potatoes and other “safe” starches, as well as natural sweeteners and naturally sweet foods. And, very oddly, some artificial sweeteners.
I think that term “safe” totally depends on the individual. I’ve learned that my tolerance for starch is extremely limited. I don’t mess around with things that raise my blood sugar, because high blood sugar is a toxic condition the body works to stop.
As my father used to say when my mother paraded a vegetable he didn’t like: Just because we can eat it doesn’t mean we have to.
Plato says he’s hungry
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