Fear the food and eat it anyway

Some not-so-scary greens.

Some not-so-scary greens.

Food. Four letters, one syllable. How can such a simple little unassuming word cause so much angst and confusion?

This question sits at the heart of why I’m so passionate about dedicating the time to dig through the mountains of conflicting information and advice about what we should eat and, bigger than that, how to obtain that seemingly elusive goal of being vibrantly healthy.

What’s considered the ideal diet changes with every season: Low fat, high carb? High fat, high protein, low carb? Vegetarian? Organic? Sugar-free? Paleo? I’m sure I’m not the only person who finds it bloody confusing! I’ve talked a bit about the conflicting advice on this blog in the past but today I want to peel off another layer and talk about our fear of (real) food.

A couple of days ago, I talked about a post on Facebook (if you haven’t done so already, head on over and like the page to keep up with everything that’s happening in this little community of ours) that the beautiful Amy from OtherWise Living shared. The post talked about taking a common sense approach to drinking raw milk. Here’s a snippet, if you missed it:

“What is it about milk straight from the cow that gets people so wound up? From this week anybody providing raw milk for consumption will face a fine of up to $60,000 (in case you were wondering the penalty for distribution of small amounts of the drug “Ice” attracts a $45,000 fine)….Drinking raw milk has risks associated with it but we do many things that have risks attached – we drive cars, swim at beaches, skydive. If you’ve ever done a food safety course you’ll know we eat many foods that we need to be careful with; rice, chicken and leafy greens are common foods most responsible for recorded food-borne illnesses. The thing is we don’t ban them we take a preventative and educative approach.”

This got me thinking. Why are we so scared of real simple food but so trustingly assume that the stuff sold to us by big corporations is perfectly safe to eat?

I don’t drink cow milk (never really liked it) but I this post caught my attention because I find it fascinating that on one hand milk is referred to affectionately as nature’s perfect food, and on the other we have a situation where we are terrified of drinking the stuff in its natural form! Don’t get me wrong – it is devastating that recently a child died after drinking raw milk. No parent should ever have to go through that hell.

But when we consider that people die on our roads every day, yet people still put their kids in cars, surely it must nudge us closer to the truth that there are inherent risks associated with simply being alive and sometimes really shitty things just happen. 

As the original post said, rather than rushing to ban raw milk, might there be more value in taking a measured approach of implementing safety procedures and educating people about safe transportation and storage of milk? Our safety is important, yes. But let’s stop underestimating our own ability to make safe choices for ourselves. Us humans are a lot smarter than the rule-makers give us credit for.

This is bigger than raw milk though. It’s just one of the telling signs of the mess we have got ourselves in when it comes to what we eat. Our modern food-production system favours food that is processed and cheap to create in large volumes. It tricks our taste-buds into wanting more than we need by layering sweet over salty over fatty. It confuses us with its multi-million dollar marketing strategies designed to take advantage of the part of our brain that associates green with healthy; and the part of our brain that sees a list of what a product doesn’t include (no sugar, no dairy) and forgets to check what it does include (artifical sweeteners, processed soy).

We have been conned into thinking that eating fresh, healthy food is dangerous, and that’s simply not true.

I have seen this fear in others: being greeted by wide eyes when talking about how I drank spring water straight from the source, rather than treated tap water.

I’ve seen it in myself: being too scared to drink the first batch of kombucha I brewed because I didn’t trust that I had the skills not to make myself sick.

Enough’s enough. Let’s start taking back our power. Let’s start trusting that Mother Nature actually does know best – she definitely knows better than humans do. Let’s stop assuming that because it comes in a package it’s OK to eat and start questioning why it needs a package to begin with.

Let’s eat real food, even if we are scared.

Laura xo

The big fat salt lie

The best-tasting salt I've ever eaten.

The best-tasting salt I’ve ever eaten.

I’m sure that, like me, you have memories of your parents or even grandparents telling you to go easy on the salt, that it’s not good for you, that it will harden your arteries. It turns out they were only partially right. The stuff that causes the bucket-load of issues your nearest and dearest warned you about is table salt, which is a highly processed and refined version of salt that actually robs your body of nutrients (filthy thief!). It is completely stripped of minerals except for chlorine(!) and sodium. It then has anti-caking agents, like aluminium, added to it. Nasty business, for sure!

Before you rush to throw out all of your salt I’m here to tell you that not all salts are created equal and that, if you choose the right ones, your body will thank you. If you swap table salt for a high quality sea salt that has all of its 84 minerals still intact you can enjoy salt in the knowledge it is doing you good. A word of warning though: the term ‘sea salt’ has been hijacked by the marketing arm of some companies. Pretty much all salt comes from the sea, which means that, unless you know what you are looking for, the words ‘sea salt’ won’t necessarily lead you in the right direction.

An easy way to tell if your salt is one of the good ones is to check the colour – true sea salt has a slightly sandy colour because of its high mineral content. If it is pure white then there is a good chance it has been processed and bleached.

True sea salt has myriad benefits including keeping your joints limber, stopping muscle spasms and helping to ensure the body has enough minerals so that it doesn’t have to draw from your bones to neutralise an overly acidic body. It can also have a positive effect on asthma because it helps ease inflammation in the respiratory system.

It also really helped me to stay hydrated when I was in Bali. I just added a pinch to my water and found that I was able to tolerate the heat much better than I otherwise might have. I drink a lot of water anyway because if I’m not hydrated I very quickly feel the effects, and this was especially true in the hot and humid climate of Indonesia. For the first two days I just drank plain water and I definitely noticed a difference when I switched to salted water on the third day.

What about Himalayan salt? While it has just as many minerals as sea salt, I generally avoid it because it can contain tiny metal particles from the drills that are used to extract it from the ground. I’m following a protocol to decrease heavy metal toxicity in my body so, for me, it isn’t the right choice but that’s not to say it isn’t still a much better option than table salt.

So, there you have it. Salt isn’t bad – you just have to choose the right type.