Friday, April 9, 2010

Real Food: Growing Up On Real Food

Whether or not you are reading Nina Planck's book Real Food along with me or not, I hope you'll find this series of posts interesting. I plan to do about a chapter a week where I summarize at least one part of the chapter and then pose questions for you, the reader (in green highlight), to respond with your thoughts. I hope it generates a lot of good discussion, so please leave your comments! And it's not too late to order a copy and follow along. 

I really enjoyed most of the first chapter of Nina's book where she chronicled her life in terms of the type of food she consumed from her years as a child on her parents farm to college and her early adult life where she all but abandoned the foods she was raised on. It's amazing to me how parents can do all the right things and kids can tune them out and listen to the world as it coaxes them to try to do things differently. But there was hope in that Nina eventually realized her parents were on the right track all along. How do you encourage your children to follow your nutritional advice so they hopefully don't go through what Nina did when they are grown and out of the nest?

Nina spent about 5 pages discussing the health risks of being a vegetarian and while her arguments seemed strong, obviously I don't buy into the "cave man" mentality she writes about. I don't believe in evolution, but rather I hold firm to the belief that God created the world in six days according to the account in Genesis. That being the case, I would say that God knew all along He would have us eat both vegetables and meat at some point even though until the flood, humans were vegetarians. We see the first reference of God telling man that it is okay to eat meat in Chapter 9:

"And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood."
  -  Genesis 9:1-4

Prior to this account, God had only told man to eat from the plants. 

"Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; 

and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so."

  -  Genesis 1:29,30

Consuming meat and dairy products definitely provides an important amount of nutrients that our bodies seem to need which can't be acquired from plants without a lot of work. Didn't God say that His yoke was easy and His burden light? While this certainly was said in response to the legalism of the pharisees, wouldn't it make sense that when it comes to eating God would not put a heavy burden on us just to be healthy? A vegetarian fast would certainly be appropriate, but the more I think about it, I'm very leery that a total vegetarian diet on a regular basis is healthiest. On the other hand, I still need to think about the amount of meat that is recommended by the Weston A. Price foundation and it's followers. It seems to be quite a bit!  What are your thoughts on vegetarianism and the amount of meat one should consume?

Planck did a nice job giving a brief overview of Weston A. Price and his research. I had forgotten that there was a published work on his studies entitled Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, but at 500 pages, I'm not sure I'll be reading it any time soon! Price concluded there were four factors that every community he visited practiced:

1. all consumed whole foods, especially grains
2. all lacked refined flour and sugar in their diets
3. all ate an abundant amount of meat and fish
4. all ate unrefined fats 

How does this list compare with the standard American diet (SAD) and your own diet?

What the author didn't elaborate on was the accuracy of Price's research. We've all been hood winked by "scientific studies" before, so statistics and reports don't always impress me. Planck talked a lot about the cholesterol issue which just made me more confused on the issue (did it do this to anyone else?). When I make dietary decisions for my family, I usually try to consider the following:

1. What items does God call food and what does the Bible say about it?
2. What foods do not contradict God's principles?
3. How did God create this food and how have people prepared and consumed it over the centuries?
4. What seems logical in terms of this food?
5. What foods have been consumed for centuries and stood the test of time as being healthy?

My list is far from perfect, but it's what I currently use to guide me. Apparently, there is some overlap in the Weston A. Price diet and how we are currently eating. So I would say that at this point I tend to agree with Price more than disagree (although not 100 percent). What do you use as your guide when making food choices?

One of the most intriguing thoughts in the chapter was Clara Davis' research mentioned on pages 7 and 8 where she set
only healthy foods in front of infants and allowed them to make their own food choices. She believed that they would instinctively know what they needed and when their bodies' needs were satisfied, they'd eventually eat a balance of healthy foods. However, there were not any unhealthy items presented to the children. (I have a theological problem with the use of the word "instinct" in this application since the fall affected our ability to interpret our "instincts" correctly 100% of the time.) 

This is totally the opposite of how I have raised my own children. I'm a firm believer in training one's palate by exposing it to certain foods, so as infants, I fed them foods they didn't like until their palate grew accustomed to the food and they accepted it gratefully. Was I making more work for myself? I don't think so. It would be nearly impossible to raise children today on the premise that they would only have healthy food choices offered to them. You'd have to grow up in a vacuum or like Nina did, way out on a farm that was secluded and banish any bad foods that were brought into your home. 

I remember one time when my first born was about six months old, someone at our home Bible study thought she wanted a bite of their ice cream and before I knew it, she was crawling around to everyone, eating from their bowls! This had not been introduced into her diet, nor did I want it to be, but there it was. Quick as a wink she was an ice cream lover and vegetables were dethroned from their previously held position.

I would like to think that we could allow children and even ourselves to determine what our bodies need, but I don't think it's realistic. What do your thoughts regarding Clara Davis' theory?

I'll close with my favorite quote from the chapter: "...the diseases of industrialization are caused by the food of industrialization." With that, I can agree with Nina.


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