Just about every blog, magazine or culinary-related ad you pick up these days has some reference to Super Foods. I contend it's as important to lean to eat "simple" and Super Foods are just a part of that. But don't you wonder why we're just now hearing about all these basic foods?
Eat Super or Eat Simple?
I think all the nutrionsits, bloggers and food writers out there are just trying to remind us that the foods derived natuarly are the best for us. The less we meddle with food the better. So if you want to really simply the process of eathing healthy you could just eat simple. By simple I mean make most of your food choices foods that come direct from the source. That means fresh vegetables, fresh dairy, fresh meats and seafood. Minimize your consumption of processed-packaged, canned, and frozen foods. By minimize I mean, have them be the exceptional foods in your diet and not the predominant foods. And, while you're at it, why not make sure to add in those foods that our scientists have found to have the most nutritonal, disease-fighting properties. Yes, those would be the Super Foods.
Aren't All Healthy Foods Super Foods? Super foods are foods that give you more bang for your nutritional buck. Specifically for the calories required to burn them, they provide more nutrients and antioxidents than other foods. Lets look at leaf lettuce as an example of "simple, nutritious, naturally good" food. It sounds healthy (and it is) but is it a Super Food?No, not by definition. Lettuce is mostly water, not high in fiber, but contains some healthful minerals and a few vitamins. Now take that basic salad green and substitute fresh spinach.. Now you are geting ____(contrast vitamins), __ fiber. This dosent mean you should stop eating lettuce it just means you should substitue some spinach now and agian to boost your nutrition. So to sum up, all super foods are healthful but not all healthful foods are super foods.
If All Those Packaged Foods Are Bad, Why Do They Exist?
This is a simple three word answer: preservation, and convenience, distribution. Preservation Since early man we have learned to preserve foods. We had to because we had to store our excess fresh foods so that we'd have them when the fresh choice was no longer avilable. An overage of milk became cheese. Too much meat became jerkey and excess grain became bread. The fresh products became storable and portable. Convenience Fast forward a few thousand years and we still need to find ways of storing our fresh foods for later use but now it's all about saving people time. Convenience foods really came into their own in the 1950's with the invention of frozen TV Dinners and packed foods by the ton. People wanted to spend more time entertaining on the patio than slaving in the kitchen. By the 1970's more women started working outide the home balancing a career, home chores, family and meal prep. Even as it became common for men to take over some or all of the cooking, people still looked for ways to put flavorful foods on the table without having to spend hours in the process. Distribution
As regions expanded from rural areas to towns, and cities people move further away their food sources. Fresh foods are more expensive to transport, they can't be stored for very long periods or time without refrigeration and even so are more perishble with high risk for spoilage. Packged foods on the other hand can stored for a very long time. They can be stacked on pallets, stored in warehouses, shipped on trucks, boats, planes or trains with far less spoilage that fresh food.
Capitolism Meets The Food Chain
Ok so maybe there is a forth reason for all those packaged foods. Capitolism. Let me say, I'm a fan of the capitolistic way of life. I've been self-employed for the last many years and our capotilist system puts the bread on my table.. But sometimes capitolism comes in direct conflict with what's healthful for consumers. Lets look at a product like bread. The ingredients are basic, flour, water, salt, sugar, leavening. A bread producer can only charge so much for a loaf of bread and still get anyone to buy it. So, the producer can use top-notch ingredients (expensive) or make a higher profit and use lower quality, cheaper ingredients. They can buy high-fructose corn syrup that the corn lobyist make sure is real cheap rather than a little-less-processed granulated sugar. They can add preservatives so that bread can sit on a shelf for a week instead of a day. The problem is when our manufactures start making food-quality decisons based on an economical "bottom line" rather than whats nutritionally best for the population, we have conflict.
That's the short version of how we got there from here, now how to change.
Read author Russ Klettke blog A Guy's Gotta Eat where he keeps us up to date good nutrition and simple meals for a guy on the move.