Variety is Important
If someone has to eat the same food day in and day out, he will soon become tired of it. This appetite fatigue is a mechanism designed by God to ensure we eat a variety of foods. When we consume the same foods all the time, we are setting ourselves up for nutrient imbalances and deficiencies. Likewise, our farm animals must also have variety in their diet. This need for variety is another reason all animals meant for food need to have abundant access to actively growing, natural forages. A common trap is for a farmer to keep his animal on the same plot of land too long. It is hard work to constantly move animals to new pastures, so farmers tend to become lazy about their rotations. This added work and cost is what led modern industrial farming to go indoors with livestock operations. It is easy, convenient, and inexpensive. Since price is the only reward in the marketplace today, if a way can be found for food to be raised cheaper, it will be. These incentives are always present, so you must be vigilant to ensure your food animals have access to fresh pasture at all times. The key word here is “fresh”. They must be moved to new pastures frequently enough that they always have fresh food to eat.
Another aspect of food variety for animals is the types of forages available. Fields of one kind of grass are not optimal. Pastures should be comprised of many plant varieties; weeds included. The animals should be free to choose plants they need at the moment. The more variety for all of us, the better off we’ll be. There is health and safety in variety.
Supplementation is Important
Supplements have been the rage for the health conscious community for many years, vitamins being the first and most common of those supplements. Unfortunately, many supplements are either artificially made or extracted from other key nutrients in which they are found in nature. The result is often just expensive urine. There is no better way to obtain the nutrients you need than from food. However, when that food is lacking in those nutrients, then supplementation is prudent and useful. However, we must be wise regarding this supplementation. Marketers are all too eager to exploit the latest healing food discoveries with useless and expensive extracts. Even the most educated consumer is duped by expensive supplements that are mainly fillers.
In order to benefit from a supplement, you must first understand what your body needs. Just taking a multi-vitamin is usually of little use. By spending money on expensive supplements that you don’t need, you may not have the money to spend where it will more good. Wisdom and knowledge are needed.
You also need to take supplements in forms that your body can use. For example, most minerals in an inorganic form are poorly absorbed by people. Obtaining minerals in organic form usually requires them to be present in food. Often organic forms of supplements do not exist in the health food store. The term “health food store” itself demonstrates the wrong thinking that is prevalent today. Most “health food stores” don’t even carry foods. Even if they do, they are token items amoung the myriad of pills.
The second problem with most supplements is that they often don’t work without the various co-factors found in food. For example, even though orange juice has very little vitamin C, it is usually more effective than pure vitamin C tablets alone for what your body needs. When obtaining supplements, you must obtain not only the active compound, but also the co-factors that are usually present in food.
The third problem with many supplements is that they just don’t provide enough to do you much good. Cod liver oil is a good example. In order to get as much vitamin D (not to mention omega-3 fatty acids) as you need, you would have to take dozens of pills. We are a drug-obsessed culture. Popping supplement pills is just more of the same mindset as the drug pill popping culture in which we live.
The fourth problem with many supplements is they may just be so much filler. Garlic oil capsules are a prime example. There is more soybean oil than garlic oil in them. You are much better off, just squeezing a few garlic cloves in a press than taking an expensive and useless garlic supplement.
If you are beginning to think that supplements are rather worthless, and that instead you should look to nutrient-dense foods for your nutrition needs, then you are thinking correctly. There is a valuable place for supplements however. Once you have a good diet of nutrient-dense foods, and learn enough to know what supplements would still benefit you, then those are the supplements you should take. Unfortunately, often these supplements may not exist. We are in need of food-based supplements that have substance and not just hype.
Let Taste Be Your Judge
Nutrient-dense foods will have more flavor than deficient foods. Likewise, real foods will have more flavor than artificial ones. So many foods today have MSG added because the underlying food has so little flavor. Sometimes real food has such an intensity of flavor it takes a little getting used to. When I first had real salad-bar eggs, the taste was pretty strong to me. After a few days of eating them though, I could not stand factory eggs any more. They not only looked gray, but tasted “gray” too. The same is true with meat, dairy and produce. In fact, there is a simple field test for produce that measures the concentration of solids in the juice. The instrument is called a refractometer, and the quantity being measured is called “brix”. The higher the brix, the more nutrient-dense the food is. Surprisingly, it is not uncommon for conventionally grown produce to have a higher brix than organic produce. It takes good soils and excellent skills to grow high brix produce.
While refractometers are good instruments and can be bought rather cheaply, you can still use your sense of taste as a guide. For meats and other animal products, it may be the only test you can currently do.
Go for Quality not Price
As we have mentioned, farmers both organic and conventional are paid on the basis of price. Consumers today usually make their food selections on the same basis. Even though the same person may pay several times more for a particular garment or some other branded consumer item, they will choose food on the basis of price alone. Knowing what science is discovering daily, we can no longer do so. If we do, we will just defer the costs to the future – in money and in health. We must therefore change our mindset. We must choose our food based on nutrient quality and not price. We must also understand what factors alter a particular food’s nutrient value. Only then can we make an informed choice. The choices you make today regarding the foods you eat will affect you, your children and your grandchildren in the years to come.
Eating the Right Kinds of Foods
We must not simply follow the latest health food fads. We must educate ourselves on what foods we need for optimal health and what foods we should avoid. While extensive information on this topic is beyond the scope of this article, here are some basic recommendations:
Foods To Eat
- Pastured meats, dairy and eggs.
- Lard (from pastured pigs if possible), butter and coconut oil. Olive oil should be used for salads only.
- Fish and Cod Liver Oil – 1 to 2 tablespoons per day.
- Colorful vegetables and fruits. Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, etc) should be either cooked or fermented, e.g. sauerkraut.
Eat in Moderation
- Whole grains, preferably fermented or sprouted first
- Small amounts of honey and raw sugar; combine with fiber and fats
Foods to Avoid
- Processed foods – Snack foods, packaged breakfast cereals, just about anything that comes in a box.
- Pasteurized milk, especially ultra-pasteurized milk, e.g. most organic milk
- Vegetable oils
- Fried fast foods
- Soft drinks – both diet and regular
Please observe that this is just a partial list. You may notice that this list departs from various food fads. For example, Brassicas should not be eaten raw, which violates the raw food fad. Also, it has abundant meat and fat, going against vegan diets and mainstream low-fat regimes. Instead of these strange fads, you should choose for variety and nutrient density. Even using the recommended foods, if you eat too much of one thing, that normally good food could cause you harm. Always eat in moderation and the more variety the better.
In our modern world it is getting harder and harder to obtain nutrient-dense foods. You must therefore make compromises. God made our bodies very resilient, so these compromises need not compromise your health. The problem today is that our diet has gone beyond compromise into malnutrition. If you can buy organic produce that is also nutrient-dense, by all means do so. If however it is too costly, difficult or impossible to obtain, then get the nutrient dense produce that is not organic. There are many carcinogens that we are exposed to that are far worse than pesticides. Only by providing your body with the healing foods it needs can you combat these toxins. You must also avoid foods that provide the wrong kinds of fats, sugars and empty calories. It does no good to eat the same amalgamated white-flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, high fructose corn syrup concoctions that pass for food with a smattering of health food and supplements. You must eat real food and lots of it. You will be better for it, and your children will be better for it.