Real food

While I’ve still got motorcycles on the brain (I found a cool old ’73 Triumph I’d like to buy if I can sell the KLR), a change of pace felt really needed here. So it’s been quiet while I’ve not known what to write about and then last night it hit me: real and tasty food.

Blog followers will recall my review of Food, Inc. not long ago. I’ve also been reading (and only partially adhering to) The Paleo Diet. I’ve been enjoying going Paleo for the most part and really do feel better than when I eat cereal grains. But at other times it can be very difficult to kick the refined sugars and salts that’s in so much of our food today. Let’s face it: that stuff is tasty! Well last night I found the solution I needed to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Previously, I’ve been using frozen fruits and berries (thawed, of course) thrown into some plain Greek yoghurt. (I spell it that way because then it’s manlier and has “hurt” in it’s name.) But it’s still been pretty bland. The fruit just hasn’t tasted… fruity enough. The frozen peaches were so tasteless I thought I should add honey. The problem according to Jack Spirko on an episode of the Survival Podcast is that modern produce from a supermarket is so overproduced and overwatered that it actually begins to be watered down in flavor. He contends that a big, juicy blueberry is far less flavorful than a smaller blueberry grown in the wild. After trying some organic strawberries I bought at a farmer’s market, I think he may be right.

They were so sweet and delicious! No added sugars, and they’re perfectly sweet enough to offset the tart flavor from the yoghurt. So now I’ve got a delicious snack that replaces ice cream or other sugar-heavy treats and I get fiber (avoiding grains this is what everyone brings up) and an outstanding amount of protein.

It’s hard going back to the Paleo Diet, I won’t lie. When I hurt my foot two years ago I fell off the wagon of regular exercise, but I’d made so much progress working out that I thought I could afford to cheat a little bit in my diet. Pretty soon the “cheats” became my regular diet, and I’m 50 pounds heavier than I’d like to be. This is not ok, but I’m hooked on eating junk again. Finding organic fruits that taste so much better than the frozen stuff in the local grocery megastore is just what I needed.

I love salt, and in order to drop it I have to use lots of salsa and other spices/herbs to “sex up” what would be an otherwise plain meal- but every time I find that perfect replacement that’s both healthier and tastier, getting back into the swing of things and eating right becomes that much easier.

The best part is that I find the vegetables and protein (lean meats and nuts/seeds) are much more filling and satisfying longer. It negates the “it’s more expensive” argument because I eat less now.

Now, it’s a little early to start proclaiming my triumphant return to eating Paleo but it’s never too soon to make one’s declarations public and invite a little public pressure to help maintain them. Right now my only specific goal is get back down to 200 lbs. (with 180 the goal after that) and back in to pants with a waist no greater than 34″. And the more reading I do, the more convinced I am that real food is the key.

And it doesn’t hurt that it tastes better.

I don’t know the dietary or physical goals of my readership, but I strongly encourage you all to seek out a local farmer’s market. It’s likely only a Google search away. And yeah, they’ve got a dirty hippie vibe a lot of the time that kept me away for years. Birkenstock-wearing granola munchers just make my skin crawl. But if you remember you’re there for Paleo reasons and they were hunter-gatherers, just go in there with a warrior mindset ready to pillage the weaker soy fans like the viking/valkyrie you can be. It’s worth it in the end.

Now if you’ll pardon me, I’ve gotten myself all psyched up while writing this and I’m gonna go find something to do pull-ups on.

Food, Inc. – Missing the Mark

I’m watching the documentary Food, Inc. and for the most part I think it’s something more people need to be aware of. It’s just frustrating at times.

Around 40 minutes into the movie a Hispanic family is featured that buys most of their meals (we’re led to believe) from fast food drive thru dollar menus. This whole sequence is incredibly maddening, but not for the reasons I think the film producers intended. The matriarch of the family says something incredibly stupid when she claims she used to think all the food was healthy. What kind of moron ever truly believed fast food was healthy?!?! Then they’re shown shopping in the produce section of a grocery store and the father says, “Look at the price of the broccoli. It’s too ‘spensive, mang.” And the film goes on to talk about the statistic of low income levels being linked to obesity, claiming it’s because these foods are cheaper due to being heavily subsidized.

I don’t doubt obesity and low income levels share a link, but I’ll argue that the cases/rates where the correlation is greatest, you’ll also find these people aren’t very intelligent.

Sounds harsh, I know, but you have to be an idiot to really believe eating from a dollar menu will save you any money, and here’s why:

  • Do the math. I spend an average of $40 a week on grocery shopping if I don’t buy any treats like the occasional beer, etc. Now let’s factor the dollar menu diet being $3 each meal (sandwich, fries and drink), three times a day ($9), and for argument’s sake seven days a week. That’s $63 a week, or 1.5 times more expensive to eat garbage than I spend on fresh produce, eggs, etc.
  • They have no concept of food quantity. The father complains about broccoli being priced at $1.29 per pound. The daughters weigh a pound of produce and complain they’ll only get three of the item…. How much does a small, $0.99 hamburger weigh? How much does a Hungry Man frozen dinner that proudly advertises itself as being a whopping “1 pound of food!” cost? These idiots are being exploited by the filmmakers because they have no clue how much food they’re really getting.

I believe in the point of the film, that we should be eating healthier and more “real” foods. But when it’s so blatantly exploitive with ominous music in meat packing plants and making a family look like victims of anything other than their own lack of critical thought…? I wish the movie hadn’t taken that turn, because it becomes harder to take seriously. I resent the obvious attempt at manipulation.

From time to time the movie comes back to making valid points about the consequences of manufactured food. The parts on the over-production of corn and how it’s synthesized was fascinating. This is the stuff that the movie really should have focused on a little bit more, because the synthetic and manufactured foods are what really affects, and I believe eventually afflicts, the population at large. Complaining about “corporations” and other liberal hippie scare words that hate business and capitalism only drives off the very audience they should be trying to reach. Real, nutritious food is an issue that should transcend the “Occupy” liberal’s frame of mind.

However, there’s a section of film roughly between the 45-50 minute marks with a chicken farmer. Heck, maybe he’s just a farmer, period. I think every American should see more stuff like this, because he begins to do a much better job at outlining the problems and falsehoods in mass produced foods.

Unfortunately, around 55 minutes in the movie just takes another political swing to show illegal aliens as being the victims of the evil corporate fat cats. This is where they lose me again and why I’m typing this up. Because I’m a bad person and I don’t care about these people. I really don’t. Altruism is for suckers, and I’m a big fan of capitalism. I don’t agree with unchecked profit-at-all-costs and harming people to turn a buck, but the movie (and Occupy zombies) don’t ever really clarify and just blast “big business” at any chance. They come off as saying mega-corporations are inherently evil and harmful to people, and I simply disagree and would like to be making that kind of money. I’m a mercenary. I am reward-driven. And Starbucks is a major corporation that treats employees well. This movie needs to get off the “corporate = evil” bandwagon if they want me to listen, and focus on telling the audience about the harm “enriched flour” can do to our bodies. Make it matter to me.

I will say, some people might cringe at the sounds of the animals in the meat processing plants. There’s some kind of gross stuff shown that would make PETA members cry but grateful the public can be exposed to it. I think it’s good, too, but for other reasons. I want to learn to hunt, because I think it’s both healthier and more natural food, and that meat-eaters should take accountability for ending a creature’s life. We’ve become too far removed from the process and live in an unnatural age where meat comes in plastic wrap from the store. I won’t go vegetarian and PETA, the Humane Society, and any other anti-hunting group of vegan whackos can get stuffed. I like meat. I simply believe taking accountability for the unpleasant task of ending an animal’s life is the moral thing to do.

Right at the 1 hour, 30 second mark, Gary Hirshberg (Stonyfield Farm CEO) outright states “We’re not going to get rid of capitalism. Certainly we’re not going to get rid of it in the time that we need to arrest global warming and reverse the toxification of our air and our food and our water.” THAT is what angers me about this movie. Sell me on the health benefits of organic food or the negative health aspects of the mass-produced stuff. SELL me. He talks about the growth of the organic food industry. He is in business, making money serving a market demand. That’s capitalism, you idiot! I freaking hate liberal hypocrites!!!

Capitalism is an economic system, determining the flow of money. Production methods are physical labor with measurable effects on the environment. And either can drive the other due to the moral/ethical demands of producer or consumer. Blaming capitalism for environmental problems betrays liberal bias toward being a retard, because 20% annual growth in the organic food industry is being driven by consumer demand, met by marketplace response and it capitalism at work. Socialism and/or gov’t mandate plays no part in it.

This movie verges on being dishonest. -Eric R. Shelton

Eventually Gary Hirshberg starts to talk some sense about producing good food and still being profitable, and Wal-Mart purchasing agents are shown to not be evil bastards out to poison the world but simply in the business of providing what the customer demands. If these stupid hippies would get off their anti-corporate, “damn the man” high horse and simply put forth a societal message for people’s health, it would go so much further. Attack my aspirations to make lots of money, and you’re a villain. Provide natural food for me to live a long and healthy life, and you’re a hero.

And of course, old harvesting equipment drawn by horse is shown romantically, while modern tractors are portrayed as belching gasses into the air.

Finally, well over an hour into the movie they start talking about Monsanto. THIS is where the movie finally gets good and talks about real issues and threats to the U.S. food supply and system. If this movie would have cut-out the blanket “corporate = evil” hippie crap and focused on Monsanto, the ownership of GMO food, and how Monsanto has used patent infringement law to cripple traditional farming methods, I would recommend this movie to everyone I know.

By the end, it finally gets on point and is worth watching. The end sequence, where they appeal to the consumer and tell us about the power we have with our spending choices is really great. I am absolutely a believer in locally grown, organic foods. Where the movie makes its greatest missteps is simply saying “Oh, bulk food and corporations are bad! Evil!” without spending enough time explaining how or why a can of Green Giant green beans is virtually nutrient depleted. They say “corporations are bad, but organic food is healthy” without realizing the converse statement is “this food lacks nutrients, and that farmer is a nice guy”. The food’s nutritional value is a separate and distinct quality from the size of a business, but the hippie environmentalist wackos confuse the topics.

Ultimately, the point of the movie is valid and I recommend it. Just realize you’ll be wading through knee-deep propaganda, just like the cows featured in manure, before you get to the good stuff.

If this article strikes a chord with you, and you are interested in healthy and organic food, I would encourage you to plant a food garden for yourself, listen to Jack Spirko’s podcast, and learn about permaculture. There’s a lot of good stuff out there.