Recently I have really been enjoying listening to podcasts while on my daily walks with my little guy. The other day I was listening to the Balanced Bites series by Diane Sanflippo (author of Practical Paleo) and Liz Wolfe they were discussing animal agriculture, sustainable farming and food as a religion with female farmer and nutritionist Diana Rodgers. It was really interesting to hear from Diana the other side of the story. I and I am sure many others who watched the ‘Cowspiracy’ and ‘What the Health’ Netflix documentaries started to question their stance on eating meat and the environmental implications of meat consumption. This discussion with Diana Rodgers presented the argument as to why sustainable animal farming is vital for the environment. Diana discusses how well-managed cattle is one of the best chances of improving soil health and sequestering carbon. What I took away from this is that this topic is so much more complex than we can ever imagine. Yes, we should be focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to meat but the answer isn't as black and white as 'everyone should stop eating meat.'
I truly believe we need to educate ourselves from all sides of the conversation to be able to make an informed decision about the choices we make when it comes to food. Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, gluten free, dairy free there are so many dietary options out there now its hard to know where to position yourself. Something they mentioned on the Balanced Bites Podcast is how food has become a religion with people really identifying themselves as either a vegan, meat eater or vegetarian etc. I grew up on a vegetarian diet and followed this until about 4 years ago when I made the decision to introduce meat into my diet. Some days my diet looks more vegetarian, some days more vegan and on other days more paleo but the one key thread is that I strive to eat real foods, unprocessed, fresh, organic & seasonal (when possible). Maybe we should start a new trend ‘I am Real Foods!’
Like fashion, food definitely goes through trends and at the moment the latest trend seems to be veganism. I remember the days when if you were a vegetarian going out for dinner you were stuck with a extremely limited, lack lustre selection on the menu. However, now restaurants are catering to all different kinds of dietary restrictions. In large chain supermarkets we are seeing a rise now in vegan foods on the shelf and although I think it is great more options are out there for the consumer I also feel that supermarkets are using this as a way to distract people away from the fresh produce aisles. Just because they stick vegan or gluten free on the side of a ready meal or box of cookies doesn't make them healthy or any less processed. In fact often when you look at the ingredient list of these ‘free from’ items they are laden with even more additives to make up for the fact they are missing certain ingredients.
My mum told me an interesting and quite shocking story of how her and her co-workers were clearing out the kitchen cupboards at work and discovered an opened loaf of gluten free (gf) bread. This bread had been purchased and opened when a former colleague who was gf worked there. That colleague had not worked at my mums place for well over 6 months. So that loaf of bread was well over 6 months old and had no signs of aging, no traces of mold. Rather than throw the bread away my mum is now carrying out her own experiment to see how long this bread will last without aging.
Isn't that shocking?!
Real foods age, they have a life expectancy. They are born, they thrive and then they deteriorate and die just like all living things. For that bread to survive the aging process how much crap would they need to pump into it?
Its definitely food for thought!
If you would like to educate yourself on these topics I would highly recommend the Balanced Bites: Kale vs Cow podcast and also 'What the health' and the 'Cowspiracy' documentaries. Kale vs Cow is currently in production to be released later this year as a film documentary directed by Diana Rodgers which will take a deeper dive into the topics discussed in her podcast.
So to summarize this post (and what I am striving to do myself)
- Strive to eat real, whole foods. Ones that thrive of the earth and that don't defy the aging process!
- Don't worry if your dietary habits don't fit into a label of vegan, vegetarian, paleo....
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Educate yourself on all sides of the conversation. Speak to local farmers at your farmers markets, listen to podcasts, read books or watch documentaries. Use the information out there to help you make more informed decisions.
Here are the links to my recommendations above:
I would love to hear from you about your recommendations on any books, podcasts or documentaries around these topics that you have found useful. Leave them in the comments below!