Here at Our Four Forks, we struggle with many of the same questions that plague and confuse the public every day. Mixed messages, conflicting studies, changing trends and popular diets have affected us as much as the next person. Should we eat meat? Should be eat grains? Buy organic? Limit carbohydrates? The questions are endless, but we try to learn more every day, piece by piece.
We both choose to eat differently and have done so for awhile; Ally is decidedly not vegetarian while Isabel is completely vegetarian and mostly vegan. Seemingly, we would disagree about a lot in terms of health and nutrition. But the truth is, there isn’t much of a disconnect in the two different ways we eat. We believe you can be very healthy as a vegetarian or as an omnivore and our basic eating philosophy applies to both.
Eat real food and eat food that has eaten real food.
What is real food? Real food is food that has been minimally processed and retains many of the nutrients it contained when alive in nature. As a general rule, the less altered by humans, the better it is for you.
Does this mean that we’re against things like yogurt, flours, or nut milks that have been “altered” by humans? No. If you grew almonds in your backyard, you could easily make almond milk. If you owned a cow, you could ferment its milk and make yogurt. If you grew a stevia plant, you could make extract from the leaf. This food is slightly processed, but its nutritional integrity is preserved (and sometimes even enhanced) by these processes.
Processed foods that we’re against are foods that you could not make without the help of scientists and lab equipment. If you grew corn, could you make high fructose corn syrup? Well, maybe, but you’d need a bunch of weird ingredients that we’re not convinced your body knows how to utilize properly. If you did make your own high fructose corn syrup, could you then make Coke? Probably not, unless you got your hands on some caramel color, phosphoric acid, isolated caffeine… you get the point.
So what about food that has eaten real food? For plants, this means they should grow in nutritionally dense soil without pesticides. You eat what your vegetable eats. For animals, this means they should eat foods they would eat in nature and move around in a way they would in nature (without hormones). You eat what your meat eats. In nature, a cow would graze on grass and other forage all day long; constantly moving and eating food its body was designed to process. A cow would not be locked in a concentrated feedlot, fattened with synthetic growth hormones and fed corn and soy (both pesticide sprayed).
As you can imagine, the nutrient density of plants and animals is directly affected by the foods those plants and animals eat. Organic plants and pastured meat are more expensive not just because they take more effort and care to grow and raise, but also because they have more nutrients. While most people only think about what is absent from organic or pastured food (hormones and pesticides), try to also think about what is present: nutrients. The extra cost may not seem as bad.
This entire blog is an exploration. We are learning as we go; changing our habits and opinions as we see fit. We’d love for you to jump into the conversation by commenting below.