When I announced last weekend that I was going to do a regular food column for AVfM, I promised two recipes in this installment. My 20/20 hindsight has informed me that I have some more basics to cover before getting my ass into the kitchen.
Approaching food in a healthy, cost-effective, and tasty way requires an ethos. It mandates a set of beliefs that guide what I write and why. My independent spirit, as well as my knowledge of food and nutrition, prevents me from resorting to sound-bite descriptors like paleo, low carb, low fat, or other labels that put a rigid boundary around what I am going to recommend.
Indeed, if I had to give an actual name to my approach to eating, it would be called “The Knowledge Diet.” I promise, that is the last time you will see those words in this column, but the fact remains that everything in this column hinges on actually knowing some stuff about food. If you are like most people, you probably don’t know near as much as you should.
Let’s start with some basic facts, and by facts I mean what I believe to be true. Some of you will know this stuff, some won’t, but saying it now will establish a loose but identifiable framework for the future.
You have been lied to by your government and the food industry about health and nutrition your entire life. And I don’t just mean little white lies. I mean great big, nasty, evil disease-causing lies designed to addict you to toxic foods, produced by toxic means, so that you stuff yourself with them until you croak.
One of these lies is actually a white lie. The Big White Lie. Sugar. Refined sugar is a toxic, disease-causing, and highly addictive substance that is added to thousands of food products not to make them sweet but to addict you to it and to keep you coming back for more, literally until it kills you.
The United States Sugar Corporation has killed more people than RJ Reynolds, Philip Morris, and street corner drug dealers have ever dreamed of.
Keep in mind that some degree of sugar does occur naturally in some foods. I am not suggesting the elimination of any particular food group, and I am not even saying that I will only be suggesting recipes that don’t contain any sugar or sugar substitutes.
Carbohydrates, fats, and protein are going to be parts of any way of eating that anyone will stick with. And while complete and total sugar elimination is impossible, it is important to know that sugar is not a food group. It contains no nutrients, healthy fats, enzymes, or protein. Unless you are fond of some avoidable diseases, you will want to cut sugar and sugar substitute consumption drastically.
Before your brain goes into panic mode, that does not mean you need to be deprived of delicious, satisfying food, even sweet foods. You just don’t have to get there with a hundred times more sugars than it requires.
Another component to consider here is that of refined, simple carbohydrates. In the metabolic picture, they are barely distinguishable from sugar. The bread products you eat made with enriched white flour (pasta too) don’t meaningfully differ from sitting down and eating a bowl of sugar by the spoonful. It will overstimulate insulin production and put weight on you and lead to the joys of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the very same way as a diet of candy.
The “whole grain” craze, spurred by all the bad press on processed grains, is not your ticket out. More on that in future columns.
Allow me to digress a moment to say that I am fully aware that for every idea I put forth in this column, you can find literally dozens of online articles from nutrition “experts” that will say I am full of it.
There are a lot of interests at stake here. For example, since soy-based protein powder became a big seller, there has been a ton of very harsh critiques on it, much of them funded or influenced by producers of whey-based protein powder. That does not mean I endorse soy-based protein powder. And it does not mean that there are not fair concerns about soy. It just means that the agendas running rampant in food journalism make #gamergate, by comparison, small potatoes.
In America, food scams being conducted by the USDA in concert with food producers have inspired an ongoing cultural war between differing camps of Food Nazi Clones. Some of their battles can make heated abortion debate seem like a friendly chat over tea and biscuits. Call that foil hat stuff if you want, but it is true.
I have little doubt that we will see some of that debate here before too long.
Moving on, another important thing to know is that most everything you have been told about fat is pure baloney, even saturated fats. I won’t go into a scientific analysis of this here. Google is available for those who want a range of conflicting views on the subject. I simply bring it up here because that is another critical component of understanding the columns you will see here in the future. Research at your leisure, but here, fat is an essential nutritional element that has been demonized far too long. Fat is your friend, and without it you will die.
And, very importantly, fat is flavor.
Finally (or as final as you can ever get when writing about food), calories matter. They matter whatever the source they come from. I don’t view them as something to obsess on every waking moment, but people on low-carb diets who think that they will lose weight consuming a quart of heavy cream every day will be in for a big fat surprise at the scales.
There now, you have a fairly good preview of the perspective you will see here in the future. More will come with each column, along with a recipe that I think you will very likely enjoy. Food production and storage will also be a key part of future writings. Put very simply, producing food is a hell of a lot cheaper than buying it, and comes with the benefit of you knowing exactly what you are eating. You cannot get that last part from the food industry anymore. They have the government’s backing to tell you deadly lies.
The whole point of this is to offer a way for you to eat well enough to make you smile because it tastes great and leaves more cash in your pocket—which you will hopefully not have to spend later on treatment for preventable diseases.
And to give you more self-reliance and independence. Nothing says Going Your Own Way like driving past the grocery store with a smile on your face.
Next week, “Some more fat facts, and spice—the variety of life.” I will show you how to make your own chili powder and use it to season braised ribs that fall apart under the touch of a fork. All on the cheap.