Everyday when we sign on to Facebook and Twitter we see a growing number of posts about a great nutritional shift happening here in America. A ‘Real Food Movement’ has begun as individuals begin to recognize the fact that many of our modern, often processed foods, just aren’t good for us. These foods, frequently high in calories and low in vitamins and minerals, are what we call Naked Calories, the title of our first book. Now, a year since its release, it seems that there’s a lot more focus on how the chronic consumption of these naked calories may actually be a major reason so many of us are suffering from obesity, diabetes, heart disease and many other lifestyle based health conditions and diseases now threatening to bankrupt this great nation.
Supporters of the new real food movement cry, JUST EAT REAL FOOD! They believe that a back to the basics eating philosophy will go a long way towards preventing and reversing many of today’s health conditions and lifestyle diseases, but is it as simple as just eating real food? After all, this isn’t the first food trend to claim to have found the answer. America has embraced quite a few health fads over the years. First, there was the low-calorie craze and the rise of the artificial sweeteners back in the 80’s when NutraSweet sent gumballs to almost every home in America to introduce their new zero calorie sugar substitute, do you remember that? Then there was the low-fat craze, followed by the low-carb craze. And don’t forget the rise and the fall of diets touting appreciable amounts of cabbage soup and grapefruit.
While we are thrilled to see so many people crying out for change, before we as a nation, fully endorse the JUST EAT REAL FOOD battle cry we need to ask ourselves this question: Did any of our past health fads really bring about any real change in our health? Are there less of us who are overweight or obese, did we reduce the number of our family and friends with cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, or depression? Are we writing less overall prescriptions, if not, why not? And if these other health fads didn’t work, does this real food movement stand any real chance or is it doomed to go the way of its predecessors?
The millions of supporters of the real food movement are looking back to the nutritional wisdom of our forefathers, in some cases all the way back to the Paleolithic age to see what our primal ancestors would have eaten, and are attempting to mimic that dietary philosophy here in the 21st century. They believe that a back to the basics eating philosophy will go a long way towards preventing and reversing many of the health conditions and lifestyle diseases individuals are currently afflicted with, but is it as easy as just eating real food?
The real food movement tells us to simply eat real, natural foods and to avoid packaged food-like substances. But is that enough? While our first inclination may be to think that a diet filled with natural protein sources, like fish, beef and chicken and fresh fruits and colorful vegetables would be a sure-fire prescription for good health – here in the 21st century eating real food may not beset upon us the same health benefits it did for our ancestors. Perhaps the real food of our ancestors would have been enough to bring about this desperately needed change in our diets and our health. However, it is our opinion that the real food of today is simply not enough.
Let’s take a step back for a moment and examine our modern real food to discover if it can supply enough of the essential micronutrients we need for basic health, while keeping us safe from exposure to toxic and potentially dangerous ingredients.
Fish are real, right? But is that enough? (For more information on finding the healthiest fish make sure to read Rich Food, Poor Food Aisle Three: Fish and Seafood)
- Is our fish as micronutrient rich as our ancestors? No. Because nearly 50% of America’s fish supply comes from farmed fish and a whopping 90% of our salmon is farmed. A study out of Boston University found that factory-farmed salmon contains only 25 percent of the vitamin D as their free-swimming counterparts. This in not the healthy, micronutrient packed fish of our ancestors for sure.
- Is today’s grocery store catch as safe and free of potential dangers as our forefather’s fish? No, because farmed fish no longer swim free in their natural environment or eat their natural diet, but instead they are bred in tanks packed so full they can hardly move, teaming with lice and bacteria that must be dealt with using vaccines and other medications and fed a diet filled with GMO-laden corn and soy.
Chicken is real, right? But is that enough? (For more information on finding the healthiest chicken make sure to read Rich Food, Poor Food Aisle Three: Meat)
- Does today’s chicken contain the same amount of health-enhancing micronutrients as the chicken your parents ate? No. When the USDA compared chickens from 1963 to those in 1997, they found that, on average, the chickens has lost 30% of its iron, 16% of its potassium and calcium, 30% of its thiamine and an incredible 70% of its vitamin A. This modern chicken cannot deliver the same vitamin and mineral punch.
- And what about the safety of today’s chicken? Many of today’s grocery store chickens are raised in an overcrowded confined space, fed arsenic to enhance its color and given a steady diet of GMO corn and soy? While this chicken is still real, would you consider it safe to eat?
And how about produce? An apple is real, right? But is that enough? (For more information on finding the healthiest apple make sure to read Rich Food, Poor FoodAisle Two: Produce)
- How does today’s apple fair when compared to its predecessor? Was it grown in soil bursting with essential vitamins and minerals, or was it grown in sad, over farmed, toxic fertilizer-laden, micronutrient-depleted soil? According to the USDA, an apple pick today has 96% less iron, 48% less calcium, 84% less phosphorous and 82% less magnesium than an apple grown only 80 years ago. To make matters worse, was it picked seconds before you are about to eat it at the peak of ripeness, or was it picked prematurely thousands of miles away and shipped to you, losing its vitamins and minerals every minute of every mile it has traveled and been exposed to heat, light and air? According to USDA the average apple travels more than 1726 micronutrient-depleting miles to reach you table. Eating that real apple everyday won’t likely contain enough micronutrients to keep the doctor away.
- And how about the safety of just eating a real apple? Is it a clean, health-promoting apple, or is it one spayed with a multitude of dangerous pesticides whose side effects range from cancer, hormone disruption and nerve and reproductive damage? According to the USDA pesticide data program, an apple is sprayed with 42 different pesticides.
The fact is, real food is a good first step, but it is not enough, in and of itself, to turn around the global health crisis we are all facing today. The problems in our food manufacturing have gone far beyond eating real food. In order to see any real change we must address the issue of food quality. We must first recognize that the real value of food is the vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids that it delivers. We must choose food that is rich in these micronutrients. Then we must take another important step, often overlooked if simply looking for ‘real food’. We must make it our goal to avoid the dangerous food manufacturing practices and ingredients that have become so prevalent in our food supply today. Ingredients like brominated vegetable oil (BVO), synthetic hormones, GMOs, azodicarbonomide, and BHA to name but a few that have already been banned from use in foods in numerous other countries due to their dangerous effects on health. We call the foods that achieve these criteria RICH FOODs. Not because they are expensive, but because they were grown and raised by men and women who have dedicated their lives to producing food rich in the essential micronutrients and who have made the decision to stop producing food whose ingredients cause poor health. These RICH FOODs are superior to real foods because they improve food safety, while supplying superior nutritional value.
It is time for a RICH FOOD REVOLUTION. Don’t wait for the government to swoop in and make our food safe, to label the GMOs, or mandate warning labels on foods containing ingredients known to be dangerous. Take it upon yourself to become educated where your food is concerned; learn how to read and decode an ingredient list, because that it the last bastion of hope for health conscious consumers. Make a personal commitment not to purchase food that will harm your health and the health of your family. In upcoming blogs we promise to help highlight many of these Poor Food Ingredients that we explain fully in Rich Food, Poor FoodPart 1: Know Before You Go.
Finally, send a message to food manufacturers that they cannot ignore. The bottom line is, money talks—make sure yours is saying what you want it to say when it comes to the issue of food quality. Only purchase those foods that you want your store to continue carrying. If manufacturers continue to sell the junk they are creating, then they have little desire to improve on the quality of their products. ReadRich Food, Poor Food to discover a world of food manufacturers that are doing it right, who work tirelessly each day, often without recognition, to supply us with high-quality Rich Foods. Request their products at your local grocer. Imagine the impact we can all have on the quality of the products stocked on store shelves. We can literally crowd out Poor Foods simply by requesting that Rich Food options are stocked and collectively boycotting products that blatantly disregard human health. In a world where ‘real’ simply won’t suffice any longer to protect us, we must take the next essential step to JUST EAT RICH FOOD. Join the RICH FOOD Revolution today!