What exactly is Real Food? Doesn’t everyone eat real food?
When someone says they eat Real Food, they are talking about a way of selecting and preparing food that is quite different from the Standard American Diet. Most food in America is processed somehow–it comes in a can or package and is full of refined flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, high fructose corn syrup, GMOs, additives, preservatives, and artificial colors. Real Food people don’t consider those sorts of things to be either real or food.
Real Food can mean different things to different people, but it usually means that it is old–foods like meat, fish, and eggs which have been around for millions of years. It also usually means that it is traditional–like fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and in season, meat that was raised in a pasture, milk that is not homogenized, pasteurized, or skimmed, fats that are not refined, and grains that are prepared by soaking, sprouting, or allowed to rise with natural yeasts.
Real Food is also a journey. It might start with something as simple as switching from margarine to butter, and then from regular butter to butter from grass-fed cows… It will probably include shopping at Farmers’ Markets, and learning how to can and make your own bread. I have no idea where it ends… but am starting to suspect that it’s a farm somewhere.
To me, Real Food means choosing foods that my great-grandparents would have eaten, and cooking and preparing them in largely the same way.
What a pain in the neck, you’re thinking. Well, yes. It can be something of a challenge… But since so many modern diseases—from diabetes to ADHD, from heart disease to Alzheimer’s disease—are caused by, or exacerbated by, the Standard American Diet, I am absolutely sure that all the “pain in the neck” associated with Real Food is worth it.
So, what might someone who is on a Real Food Journey really like as a gift this year? I humbly suggest some things I wish someone had bought me.
1. Nourishing Traditions — Part textbook, part cookbook, with a cheery yellow cover that makes me smile every time I see it, every Real Food person needs this book… and it won’t be too long before it is dog eared, full of sticky notes, and has splatters and sticky stuff on it. It is invaluable when it comes to trying to figure out what you are supposed to be eating and why, how you are supposed to be eating it, and what to say to the people who keep insisting that you shouldn’t be eating it.
2. The Elliott Homestead: From Scratch — This amazing cookbook is more than just how to make easy, delicious Real Food, it’s like having your best friend in the kitchen with you!
3. Pyrex 14-Piece Set — Real Food people know that plastic food storage containers can leach harmful chemicals into their food. These are much safer!
4. Waterbath Canner — At some point all Real Food people will come to the conclusion that the best way to make sure they are eating the best food possible is to simply preserve it themselves. For me it started with a few batches of strawberry jam (because I couldn’t find any without high fructose corn syrup in it) … and now I have dozens of jars of applesauce, tomato sauce, tomatoes, peaches, prunes… and a kind of silly number of jars of jam!
5. Speaking of canning, one can never have enough jars! Plus they make very useful storage containers. I use the quart jars for storing bone broth and homemade yogurt, and these little ones, aside from being quite adorable, are the perfect size for yogurt or applesauce to send in the kids’ lunches. And you might want to grab some dissolvable labels (which really do come right off in water!) because everyone likes to have some idea of what they’re eating!
6. Wilton 24-Cavity Silicone Mold — One of the problems with eating Real Food is that all the other kids are eating gummy bears and goldfish crackers while your kids are being forced to eat things like fruit, vegetables, and cheese for snack. The solution? Make snacks (like these Jammy Gummy Bites) that look cooler and taste better than the snacks the other kids are getting! (For most fruit snack recipes, you will need this too.)
7. Coconut Oil — You can’t go wrong with this one. Most Real Food people use a ton of coconut oil. I put it in my coffee every morning, and use it to make deodorant. I put it in my hair, use it as lotion, and cook with it.
Plus, a dehydrator. This is on my Christmas wish list. Why do I want it? Well, dehydrating things, obviously. (Just think of all those lovely sun-dried tomatoes I might have had!) But, also, as a nice warm place to culture yogurt, and to let your bread rise. The possibilities are endless!
(Update: I did get my lovely dehydrator for Christmas last year… and I have a whole cupboard full of dehydrated fruits and vegetables to prove it. I LOVE it!)
And one more thing… patience, understanding, and an open mind.
It’s hard enough to be different without being belittled by friends and family for going to the trouble of making your own yogurt, rather than just buying the sugar-filled stuff from the store. Or for driving all over creation to find grass-fed beef, pastured chicken and eggs, and the best organic produce out there.
So, now if you’re just the teeniest bit curious as to why someone would go to all the trouble of eating Real Food, here’s something for your wishlist– Real Food: What to Eat and Why. For me, this was the book that started it all!
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This post has been shared at The Prairie Homestead’s Homestead Barn Hop, Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy, Mostly Homemade Mondays, Real Food Forager’s Fat Tuesday, and Tuned-in Tuesday at Healthy Roots, Happy Soul. And at Wellness Wednesday, Wildcrafting Wednesday‘s Christmas Edition, Holistic Squid’s Party Wave Wednesday, and Whimsy Wednesday.This post has also been shared at Thank Your Body Thursday, The HomeAcre Hop, Natural Family Friday, and Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday. And, also, at the Inspired Holiday Hop (via Raising the Barr’s Inspired Holiday Tradition.