Even A Stubborn American Can Learn New Tricks . . .

This is a guest post by Jen of Real Food Freaks. Enjoy!

I realize that we real foodies often blame the S.A.D. (standard American diet) on Big Ag, Big Pharma, politicians, Monsanto, the industrial medical complex,  etc. (see here)  However, the problem can’t be blamed solely on these organizations.  Really.  The U.S.A. is called the Land of the Free.   With that freedom comes responsibility.  All too often we have abdicated our responsibility for our food choices to others and have neglected the time honored traditions of health and well-being passed on from our ancestors (laziness perhaps?).  There are consequences for abdicating responsibility so easily. 

Take Ownership of Your Food Choices

I am not excusing the system for its ‘epic fail’, but at some point all of us need to take personal responsibility for ourselves and our food.  There was a great article written in Time magazine about Joel Salatin last fall.  It was a promo for his latest book, “This Ain’t Normal Folks”.  In the article Joel mentions that he is not an advocate of removing the likes of Big Ag and Monsanto from the system.  Joel comes from the Libertarian point of view (not a mainstream political movement, but gaining ground in the US).  Let people make choices for themselves and that will eventually change the system.  I agree with Joel on this point.  On what basis do we remove the freedoms that we have to make choices?  If we do it for Monsanto and Big Ag, what is to stop the ‘powers that be’ from removing our choice to drink raw milk and MORE in the name of their ideas of ‘health’!
Exposure to and Respect for Traditional Cultures
Unfortunately, for the stubborn, this requires us to get sick before we really change the way we look at our food choices.  But when we finally understand . . . nothing can stop us from making those changes!
I am one of those stubborn people.  I am even married to a Filipino (who was NOT born or raised in the states). 
Jun and Jen
So, you would think that I might have had a better comprehension of the vast differences between how Americans view food and other, more traditional, cultures?  Nope.  I was ambivalent, and even slightly antagonistic, towards my husband’s culture and food choices.  I had an air of superiority about my choices being ‘tastier’ and ‘healthier’ than my husband’s foods of choice.  HA!  What a joke!
I scoffed at the massive amounts of pork they would consume with FAT on.  And would think, ‘”OMG, you use that much coconut milk in your food???”  What about the saturated fats and cholesterol?
Eventually, his family would apologize to me for the meals they made as if they were making poor choices.  But they weren’t.  I was being a JERK!  I didn’t even bother to try to understand why and how these foods worked for them.  And honestly, most of them were thin until they arrived in the states.  I don’t blame that on their traditional diet, but on the CAFO meat and processed refined foods that the American culture introduced into their lives. How can one NOT see that connection?  They didn’t change, but the quality of their food sure did!

Some Nourishing Filipino Tips Introduced into My New Real Food Lifestyle
It wasn’t until I became sick that I really began to understand.  Subsequently, I began to research the value of my hubby’s culture.  How misguided I was not to see it.  I am extremely humbled and grateful for the opportunity to learn about it now.  Here are some of the principles I have learned from traditional Filipino foods:

1)      Coconut everything is healthy!  They eat all forms of coconut.  Coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flakes, coconut flour, and coconut oil.  They even lather it on their skin - a new trick of mine, too,  and it works better than any toxic moisturizer I have EVER used. (See here)

2)      LONG and SLOW cooking brings out flavor.  (crockpot  recipe for Bulalo here)

3)      Use every part of the animals, fruits, and veggies.  Do not waste! You would be surprised how far a pastured chicken will stretch if you use EVERYTHING – even bones!

4)      PORK (and other meats)  are good – with all their fat.  Pork belly is especially nutrient dense.   But remember that it must come from a traditionally pastured pig! (Recipe here)

5)      SHARE!  You may not think this has much to do with nourishment, but it DOES!  Filipinos are EXTREMELY generous.  They share with others even when they don’t have much for themselves.  Sharing builds community. 

6)      Grow and / or raise as much of what you can yourself and get the rest from others that you know!  Filipinos are GREAT NETWORKERS.  If someone grows vegetables and another person raises pigs they will often exchange products in lieu of money.  And guess what?  The people with the best products are the ones everyone wants to trade with.   Instead of buying cheap, you are trading for the true value.  Essentially, people adjust and strive for quality and they know is being given to them.  Huh.
7)      Properly prepared grains are OK.  It’s one of the main reasons that I cannot go fully PALEO/PRIMAL.  Filipinos and most Asian cultures survive on rice and legumes (properly prepared) when meats and other foods are scarce and money is tight.  That doesn’t mean that I believe that the American grain supply doesn’t have its problems.  I totally think Americans can benefit from a significant reduction in grains in their diets, or elimination in some cases, due to the deterioration of the quality of the wheat crops.  However, Asians have subsisted on rice and properly prepared grains for thousands of years and they have thrived.  No one can deny that.  Just take into context the HIGH amounts of quality fats that are added to the grains to make the glycemic load not as high . . . .  (Puto recipe here)

I could go on and on, but I am fearful that I may be losing some of you to boredom.  My original point still stands.  We alone are responsible for the food that goes into our bodies.   Do your research and invest in learning about how traditional cultures managed their health – without drugs.
Check out other interesting posts at Real Food Freaks!

This post was shared with Real Food Freaks, Food Renegade, The Nourishing Gourmet, Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Healthy Home Economist, Hartke is Online, Real Food Forager Frugally SustainableKelly the Kitchen KopWhole New Mom and the The Prairie Homestead.


Angie @ Bare Root People said...

Traditional Filipino food is so, so amazing. Pancit is my favorite!

While personal responsibility for food choices is definitely an important component of health, I would like to mention other components of the complex reality of the US food system.

Food access, for instance, is an enormous issue. Geographical, financial, educational, cognitive & literal physical barriers prevent huge swaths of the population from being able to eat fresh food at all, much less without pesticides, GMOs, etc.

This can be hard to understand when one is not exposed to it daily, as those of us who work with the disabled, elderly, mentally ill, etc. are.

Just wanted to add that in there. Thanks for the great article!

France@beyondthepeel said...

Hi Ruth, Great article. Though I agree with Angie about lack of freedom in some instances, I still believe that the majority of us can choose to buy food that is good for us. If the those of us who could afford to buy it and access it did, I think it would be surprising how quickly the products we are offered in our stores and markets would change. Simple supply and demand.

Heather's Blog-o-rama said...

Oh, this is a GREAT post and read right to the very end :) :) I used to be a stubborn American in terms of my diet/thoughts on food. Now I'm learning a better way...and so your blog post title really made me laugh :) :) Besides that, the points mentioned are really good!!! Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ) :) :) :)

Ruth Almon said...

Thanks, guys! Credit goes to Jen for writing a great, thought-provoking post.

Leslie @ Real Food Freaks said...

Jen has a lot of good insights. But she'll always be a stubborn American. ;)

Thanks Ruth!

regina said...

This was a great post. I have to agree that it is our responsibility to find the right foods to eat. But, some of those foods may not be available. We recently bought a milk cow because we couldn't find a source for organic dairy products. Now we are starting our own garden and should had plenty to share.
Thanks again for a great post.

~*Connie*~ said...

I agree with you on personal responsibility to a point. Americans have been told for, what, 40 years now that fat is bad, that processed food is good and healthy. Your inlaws grew up with their culture's norms, you grew up with yours.

We are a society - a collective. This means we shouldn't have to go out and reinvent the wheel each and every time someone new comes along. We should be able to rely on the knowledge that comes before as true and accurate. and it is something that most cultures have been able to do since the beginning of cultures.

Right now the SAD is screwed up. It is unhealthy and is killing a generation of people. Yet the "experts" and the "nutritionists" all claim it is healthy and better for us then most other diets, and then blame us for "eating too much" (i mean we must be right?? Calories in <calories out always equals weight loss.. right? It is pure mathematics.. although no one told the human body it was a calculator)

All we can do is continue to share what we have realized and hope there are other people out there open minded enough to accept that "they" might be wrong.

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