Why I can't stand the diet wars
What annoys me most in the current food conversation? It's the so-called 'diet wars'.
In this ever more polarised world of ours, fists are flying for vegan vs paleo, low carb vs low fat, this vs that, and the list of punch for punch goes on and on. When, really, everyone should be on the same side, fighting against processed food domination.
The healthiest diets are provenly those that focus on fresh whole foods. Whether keto, vegan, paleo, low fat or low carb (or whatever else), as long as you stick to fresh, real food, prepared at home it's good for you. If you cooked it, it's healthy!
It's not so much the what you cook that matters (unless you have issues with specific foods, of course), but much more about how it got to your plate in the first place: where it's from, how was it produced and who profits from it.
Whether you prefer to eat beans or meat, potatoes or kale, tofu or eggs; covered in butter, olive oil, or nothing at all... if you care about ethical and sustainable eating you need to look at the food on your plate, not the label it comes under.
Just as it is possible to fall for unethical and unsustainable almond milk, you can choose to eat ethical and sustainably produced meat and eggs. The mass farming of plants is just as harmful, wasteful and environmentally destructive as the mass farming of animals, while regenerative farming practices involve the entire ecosystem (soil, plants, animals, water, light) by definition.
If you care about good honest food that is good for you and good for the planet you need to look past corporations and big business, and past vast supermarket aisles, shiny packaging and clever marketing.
You will have to take a stance against the corporate takeover of our food system, and take a closer look at where and how your food was produced, how it was processed, and who profits from its sale.
If you can grow or raise your own, that's amazing. If you can't, look for your nearest farm and farmers market. Look for your local greengrocer, butcher, deli and wholefood shop. Small and local is always better. Small farms, small producers, small shops, small business.
For me, this is the crucial question: Do I want to support someone out there making a honest living doing something with care and love, or do I want to support conveyor belt production and those men in grey suits making ever more profits?
For most of us the spontaneous answer might be obvious, yet, good food is far too often seen as something indulgent.
I find it sad that we all understand and appreciate the quality and value of, say, a handmade pair of leather shoes (even if we are not able to afford it) but when it comes to food, most of us raise our brows at the higher price tag of organic veggies, grass-fed meat, or artisan cheese.
To me, even the use of these very words seems absurd. Why is food grown with methods that are working with and not against nature labelled as 'alternative' whereas food pumped full of chemicals* is considered 'normal' and indeed 'traditional', even though none of this high-tech agriculture existed 100 years ago? Why is it that grass-fed cows are something special these days? And why is this not shocking to more people? How come that good food is indulgent, and a 6-foot TV screen or the annual 'upgrade' of your mobile phone is essential?
A lot of questions, I know. I don't have all the answers. And we all have to make our own choices.
But I do think these questions are far more vital to our well-being, as well as that of the planet, than the labels anyone chooses to attach to their preferred way of eating.
I would love to see more and more people consider and appreciate the quality of their food in ways that look further than the label and the end product on our plate.
What do you think?
* Just one example: Did you know that 'conventional' wheat is sprayed with glyphosate immediately before harvest? Because killing the plant with weedkiller first makes harvest 'easier' (= cheaper = more profits for someone, and it's not the guy on the tractor, nor your health).
Swallow This (Joanna Blythman)
Defending Beef (Nicolette Hahn Niman)
The Food Fix (Mark Hyman, MD)
Metabolical (Robert Lustig, MD)