Fresh, Local, Traditional: My Food Philosophy

I want to welcome all the recent readers from CNN’s  story: An Inconvenient Challenge as well as the Globe & Mail’s story: Ditching Processed Foods which covered Nourished Kitchen and the recent 28-day Real Food Challenge.  If you’re new why not subscribe or get involved?  You can also learn more about me and how to use Nourished Kitchen here.  At the same time, I’d like to encourage established readers of Nourished Kitchen to take a look at their own food philosophies, and share them here.  How do you eat?  What do you value, and why?

  • Stay Natural & Unrefined. Eat only natural, whole foods in their unrefined state.
  • Avoid Modern, Processed Foods. Avoid processed, packaged, refined foods even those sold as “natural” foods.  If you’re great-great-great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it, don’t eat it.
  • Eat your veggies. Eat your veggies, loads of fresh greens, fresh fruit, root vegetables, brassicas.  Enjoy them all – they offer vital nutrients and antioxidants (check out some recipes).
  • Sour, sprout or soak. If you eat grain, beans, legumes, nuts or seeds, make sure that you properly prepare them to maximize your body’s ability to assimilate their nutrients (read about sprouted grain).
  • Love healthy fats. Enjoy wholesome, healthy, unrefined natural fats liberally – and especially on your vegetables. (Read about fats to eat cooked and fats to eat raw.)
  • Brew mineral-rich stock. Make homemade, mineral-rich broth and stock weekly, and consume it daily (Read about the benefits of broth and a recipe for broth.)
  • Eat grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught. Eat meat, including offal, and make sure it’s from a trusted source that relies on traditional methods of raising their animals: on fresh pasture.
  • Keep dairy raw and fresh. If you eat dairy, keep it raw or, at the very least, make sure it comes from grass-fed animals and is not subject to ultra-high-temperature pasteurization. (Read about my love of fresh cream and how to choose a raw milk dairy).
  • Get Your Good Bacteria. Consume naturally fermented, probiotic foods and beverages daily (see recipes for fermented foods and benefits of lactic acid fermentation).
  • Get involved. Grow your foodshed and give back to the community.  Fight for farmers and consumers rights and against the industrialization of our food supply.
  • Maximize nutrient density of your foods by preparing and consuming them with time-honored tradition.

Sustainable.

Sustainable agriculture is my passion.  I believe that farmers should be fairly compensated for their work.  When I spend my money locally, and purchase farm-direct, I ensure that my the agricultural roots of my community are well-fed and that the farmers, themselves, not giants of the agricultural industry or middlemen, profit from their hard work – tilling the fields, harvesting crops and raising animals properly.  By connecting directly with food producers, I can ensure that the food with which I nourish my family is not only safe, but grown and raised under as close to optimal standards as possible.  Sustainably produced food – grass-finished and pasture-raised meats nourish the earth by sequestering carbon in the soil and improving the variety of native flora.  Moreover, foods grown locally, sustainably and picked fresh offer their peak nutrition to the consumer. Better nutrient density, better for the environment and better for the farmers.  Read more about what sustainable farming terms mean: Real Food Glossary.

Balanced.

I believe in balance, and while, for me, that excludes the use of processed foods – doing so does not equate to denial.  Real foods, traditionally prepared offer myriad flavors, textures and nuances.  Wholesome, pasture-raised meats offer concentrated sources of vitamins, minerals and wholesome, healthy fats.  Vegetables, fruits and plant foods offer antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.  Grains, while not well-suited to every person, can offer micronutrients when properly prepared to mitigate the effects of phytic acid and other antinutrients.  Whole, raw, fresh milk provides conjugated linoleic acid, vitamins and minerals – all nutrients that have a powerful, positive effect in supporting health and wellness.  Eat your meat – just make sure it’s pasture-raised or grass-fed.  Eat your grain – just make sure it’s soured, sprouted or soaked.  Enjoy plenty of vegetables for all their nuances of flavor and subtle, unique beauty.  Eat raw food, eat cooked food, eat fermented food – just eat whole foods.

Unprocessed.

I believe in unprocessed, unrefined, whole foods.  The industrial processing strips foods of their inherent, natural nutrients and value, and by consuming foods in an unprocessed state.  By consuming whole, unrefined foods, you consume their naturally present nutrients – reducing reliance on fortification, white flours, white sugars and refined vegetable oils.  Check out nourishing, wholesome recipes featuring natural, unrefined foods like sprouted grain flours, unrefined olive oil, grass-finished and pasture-raised meats as well as plenty of fruits and vegetables.  Even those on a budget can enjoy natural, whole foods on a budget (see nutritional powerhouses that won’t break the bank or 10 Healthy Meals under $10.)

Traditionally Prepared.

I believe in raising, growing and preparing our foods through traditional methods – as they would have been raised, grown and prepared prior to the industrialization of agriculture.  By following the methods that nourished our evolution, we optimize the nutrients they contain.  Souring grain, as in the case of traditional sourdough, increases the availability of minerals.  The habit of fermenting vegetables, as in sauerkraut and kimchi, was born of practicality – a way to preserve the harvest well into winter but serves the dual purpose of increasing beneficial bacteria, food enzymes and B vitamins.  By preparing foods traditionally, we maximize their nutrient density.  Learn more about traditional foods in a nutshell.

Community Involvement.

I believe in community involvement.  The only way to improve the state of our own health and that of our community is to take an active role in advocating for sustainable agriculture and real food.  Plant a community garden.  Volunteer at your farmers market.  Organize a CSA.  Hold a community supper featuring wholesome, local foods.  Celebrate the beauty of your foodshed, and support local farmers practicing sustainable agriculture.  Support nutritional advocacy groups like the Weston A Price Foundation as well as the work of farmer and consumer rights organizations like the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund.

Nurture Your Children.

Give your children the right start, and teach them to value nutrient-dense, unrefined whole foods from the very beginning.  Nourish yourself well both pre-conception and during pregnancy.  If you’re having trouble getting pregnant, read more about the role of nutrition in unexplained infertility.  Nourish yourself well and breastfeed your babies until they reach at least two years of age, or give them the right start by practicing baby-led weaning.  Don’t stress about food, but encourage  your children to enjoy fruits and vegetables and give up the kid’s menus!  Or read about how I nourished my child.

Photo by Dusty Demerson.

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What people are saying

  1. TheDancingBearBlog! says

    …Thank You, Jenny… from my post from earlier today…

    – and yet they have another reference that got logged into their brain – another reference to “real food!” …And THEY PROCESSED THE IMPLICATION – that some of what they call “food” is NOT actually REAL! …This is a Good Thing. [And]

    In Summary: Yaaaaay, Jennifer McGruther, for thinking and saying that some “food” …is “Real!”

    And Jenny, since we’re on the “same team” …you may be interested in my post “Teachers: Help Is Coming!” Blessings To You! Dancing Bear♥

  2. TheDancingBearBlog! says

    Thank You – Thank You – Thank You! …for inspiring my post today and for doing some of the “work” for me… Our message is so important to the survival and thriving of Humanity… and a generation who is – in mass – committing “nutritional-suicide.” We CAN Turn The Tide! Let’s Keep Going, Jenny!

  3. says

    Hi, Jenny!

    I knew you were playing with these ideas, but had no clue you’d put together such a gorgeous site with so much information! I’ve already subscribed and can’t wait to read more as I figure out your challenge in more depth!

    Best of luck and congrats on your article on CNN!

    See you around town – I hope! :)

    Andi

  4. Alex says

    Sweets!!! GREAT article on CNN! i was so excited to see it!!!! I was laughing at the comments though and then thought–when the students are ready the teacher will appear…or in this case–the teacher will be here–making home made sourdough bread with pastured butter slathered on and her students will come when they smell the fresh baked goodness!!! You wicked rock!!! keep up the GREAT work!!!!

    Alex

  5. says

    Congrats on the CNN article. Those comments are real eye openers. Who knew that only eating real foods in their most natural and easily recognized form could be so controversial? I guess I should be used to this kind of thing, but the average American’s idea about foods is pretty scary. My kids and I are allergic to corn so we only eat whole foods cooked at home. I heard my Dad tell someone that we were on a “weird” diet so I asked him how it is “weird” to only eat foods that you recognize and can pronounce?

    The scariest part about food in America is that even on a traditional foods/whole foods diet it is almost impossible to avoid all GMOs. In order to truly avoid GMO contamination of your food, you must know the farmer who grows it. We eat locally and in season out of necessity since fruits and vegetables from the produce section of the grocery store are notoriously tainted with GMO corn (even some organic ones) and frozen fruits and vegetables can be as well. Living in a state that doesn’t allow the sale of raw milk, we must go without because all Vitamin D milk contains GMO corn (even organic). We finally found a source of completely GMO-free meat only an hour and a half from here so we are looking forward to filling the freezer. Woohoo! I thought I was going to have to drive the 7 hour round trip to our old source because my freezer is almost bare. I get really upset thinking about how many people are trying to feed their families healthy food, but are still unknowingly feeding them GMOs because they don’t know the secrets that we had to learn. Who would think that organic chicken thighs, organic bananas, organic whole milk, organic eggs, organic produce including cucumbers, melon, mushrooms and potatoes would be unhealthy? All of those things are commonly treated with GMOs before they make it to the local grocery store. There is very little real, pure food even in an upscale grocery store and it takes a lot of research to find it.

    No one seems to understand how dire our food situation is in this country. When I wrote the blog post about GMOs being used on pastured meat, I naively thought that real foodies would be outraged to find that a “safe” traditional food was somehow being tainted with GMOs. I am still shocked at the reactions that mostly amounted to, “Oh well, it isn’t as if we can avoid ALL GMOs.” Isn’t that exactly the point?! Why do we stand for it? Where is the outrage? Why didn’t all real foodies band together and demand that GMOs are kept away from our traditional foods? Maybe if enough real foodies had contacted USWM to voice disapproval, they would have felt compelled to search for a non-GMO solution. That will never happen now since their use of GMOs has been legitimized and accepted by the real food community. So sad.

    By the way, Kettle chips are no longer GMO-free, ditto for Cascadian Farms and Imagine Foods. You also still have USWM on your GMO-free food list, although they admitted they are not. You can add Kerrygold, Tropical Traditions, Naturally Preferred (Kroger store brand organics), Bionaturae, and Bubbies to your list, though. (The Cascadian Farms and Imagine Foods haven’t changed their labels but are causing reactions in the corn allergic community lately. We aren’t sure why yet.)

  6. says

    Just read the article on CNN and found your blog. I keep a mostly organic kitchen and the only really processed food we eat is all-purpose flour (haven’t been able to give it up thus far). I love that over 900 people signed up for this-that’s awesome. Glad to find a blog about real food and health.

  7. says

    Good for you and the CNN article. You’re looking might hawt on that photo! :)

    As KC has experienced, people always ask me “well, what do you eat?” As if eating whole foods is some alien concept. We spent the 4th of July weekend @ my sister in law’s house. She told me “I’m going to cook, but I know you won’t eat any of it, so you’re on your own”. Why would she think I wouldn’t eat bbq meats or salads? Yes, I passed on the potato salad (carbs) and store bought desserts, but sheesh, you’d think I live on dung beetles and mountain side dew.

  8. says

    Hi Jenny,

    This is my first time to your website. It is beautiful and someone is a wonderful photographer.

    I am the Weston A Price Leader in Kamloops, BC, Canada and I can understand the difficulty for new people to move away for processed foods and towards whole foods. I did a posting a few months ago on this topic which may help some of your readers make the transition. Doing one step every two weeks will bring a family to nourishing traditional foods in a under a year. This can take the stress out of the process and make family life more pleasant. Some steps are very easy and cheap and other more difficult and expensive. I would suggest starting with with easy and cheap changes!
    http://eatkamloops.org/archives/1689

  9. says

    What a great post summarizing how we want to eat! If we think about it, eating real, whole, unprocessed foods isn’t as complex as we have made it out to be, but really eating in its simplest form.

    Thank-you for your example and providing me inspiration to me to keep blogging about real food and Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions recipes. I am bookmarking this post because it has so many links and a wealth of information…

    Kim @ http://theNourishingCook.com

  10. says

    Hi, Jenny, and congrats on the CNN piece!

    You and I, as you know, share similar food philosophies _ namely that food should be food and not foodless. I wrote a post last week about how I’ve been able to keep off the 40 pounds I lost nearly 9 years ago by eating real food. And, of course, my restaurant guide focuses on restaurants that serve real food, raised right.

    I find your blog gorgeous, your ideas sound and your recipes delectable. Here’s to more success!

    ~ Holly

  11. says

    Thank you for writing so eloquently and truthfully about a subject that get little respect. I have felt this way for a long time but could never get heard because I did not know how to say it. I’d love to link to this article if that is fine with you. GREG

  12. says

    Do you have a sample menu of completely real foods???

    I eat MOSTLY real foods, but I always considered dried pasta, canned beans, and skim milk to be real…. I would love to make my diet MORE real!

  13. Geoff says

    I have a degree in human nutrition. I’m not seeing how introducing more lard into my diet is healthier than other alternatives…Would anyone care to enlighten me? I’m a pretty open minded person.

    • Jenny in CG says

      I can’t give a very convincing explanation to a “degree in human nutrition” person but let me say this:
      The only dietary change I made was to remove all hydrogenated products and eat the same amount (actually, a bit more) of fats as butter, lard, coconut oil, tallow and chicken fat (schmaltz).
      My dandruff and dry skin cleared up, my elimination became more predictable and my CHOLESTEROL *DROPPED* 150 POINTS.

  14. says

    Jenny,
    Congrats on a wonderful article. And as Motherhen68 said that photo is hawt!
    I can in some ways relate to people thinking that changing from eating processed foods to real/whole/traditional foods sounds overwhelming. A few years ago my family existed on take out, dine out and frozen ready-to-cook food delivered by the schwan man. If I would have heard about the concept of real food then I would have thought NO WAY. Plus we are taught from early on that the concept of eating for good health involves looking on a little pyramid and eating the way it dictates. My first step was learning how to prepare foods at home (not traditional foods, any foods) and it has progressed from there. We still have a lot of changes to make before we are eating 100% traditionally prepared foods. We have noticed some huge changes in the way we feel with the way we eat now. I too get the ‘what kind of weird diet’ are you on questions and comments when people discover how we eat. In today’s hurry up world the idea of spending a little extra time preparing meals from scratch and eating to nourish our bodies is an unusual concept. And with the information we have been given the ideas of eating healthy fats, red meat and raw milk sounds foreign and wrong to many. I am excited to see an article like this hitting a news outlet like CNN. Well done Jenny!

  15. says

    Thank you, Jenny, for making your life (and blog) about so many important things. As a cookbook author and culinary instructor, I’m always telling people, if you want to eat well and BE well, you HAVE to cook. If not, you don’t. But if so, there’s no way around it. What we choose to eat has become a political statement, just as important as who we vote for – maybe more so! I’m preaching to the choir, so just – thank you.

    Thanks, too, for CNN for writing the article that helped me discover you, and to Food News Journal for featuring the CNN article. I’ve become a subscriber, and look forward to your future adventures.

  16. says

    Congrats on the publicity Jenny! For those that are new to eating real food, please look up Jenny’s “Food Stamp Challenge.” We live on a really strict food budget and this challenge helped me plunge further into eating real food. After this last challenge, I still struggle with eating 100% real food on our budget, but it is possible. For those who argue with eating real food, I have just said good bye to 2 great grandmothers in the past week. They lived to be 97 and 103 completely on their own until just recently. Tell me this isn’t the way to eat when I witnessed the lives they have lived eating this way. I am thankful for Jenny and the encouragement she gives through this wonderful blog to those of us still learning. Keep up the great writing!

  17. says

    I loved the 28 day challenge! I found your blog right before you started. I’m not quite there yet but I was inspired to make several more changes in the right direction. Thanks for the constant encouragement to make small changes. I used to think that I ate real food….now I know that I do. ( And I usually end up feeling really yucky when I eat something processed.) I’m still working on giving up white flour but I do make my own bread so no preservatives, soy or artificial anything.

  18. says

    Okay I <3 you!!!

    What a wonderful article! I eat mostly real food but allow a few what I call "sane meals" a week. I'm not going to entirely give up pizza from my favorite local little pizzeria even though their crust is made with white flower. ;-)

    I also don't eat pork or scavengers due to the toxins and nasty nature of those creatures. Ick!!! But I'm sure lard is better than my occasional pizza. ;-)

    I love the cookbook Nourishing Traditions and your site seems to follow the same principles. I am off to subscribe right now.!

    Thanks for the work you are doing for the real food movement!!

  19. Heather says

    The CNN article was great to bring more people to question what is real food and check out your blog. The other experts who brought more conventional advice sounded way out of place. Why would anyone be attracted to denatured food like low fat cooked milk from sick cows force fed pesticide laced grain? The cost increase is a factor, especially if you don’t have much time, due to a demanding job, long commute and family obligations. Finding your local Weston A Price chapter and getting to know some farmers in your area is the most important step to finding real food that you don’t have to mail order.

    Geoff – The answer to your question about Lard depends on which other fats you’d prefer. The reasons I use a lot of Lard are:
    1. it drains off my bacon and pork chops and I don’t want to throw it away
    2. I use it to cook with instead of vegetable oil which is not traditional, not food. Check out the history of Canola oil beyond the typical research claims. It’s an industrial byproduct and must be highly refined to make it “safe” and palatable. If you really look into the health benefits of traditional foods, you will have to look at the money trail behind the “medical” research that you were taught was trustworthy.
    I also use the highest quality butter, coconut oil and olive oil, but primarily not for cooking. Why wouldn’t you use Lard? If it’s for religious reasons, use Chicken Fat or Tallow instead :-)

  20. says

    I was just craving a big bowl of healthy canned veggies with a side of chemically enhanced packaged apple slices. Mmmm.

    p.s. Do you know where I can get some BPA to sprinkle directly into my food instead of waiting for.ev.er to let it leach in over time?

    Thanks!

  21. Alex says

    One thing i have noticed, and this is just in my body–but when i eat traditionally–like we had a pastured chicken with roasted root veggies cooked in a blend of coconut oil, bacon grease, chicken fat, olive oil and butter because it all tasted so good….I DO NOT GET HEARTBURN even if i dont take any enzymes…course, before the meal i always have about a quarter cup of fermented veggies…

    now, if i eat any take out food–other than a traditional mexican family restaurant that does the tortillas fried in lard (yes!!!)…I get horrid heart burn-=even if i take enzymes ahead of time…my body is extremely sensitive to fake fats–and white flour and processed foods…

    Geoff–look back over time and see that what we “know” to be true in nutrition changes every few years–and a LOT of mistakes have been made–but the tried and true traditional diets of years past produced healthy people who had little if any cancer. Heart disease was unheard of…remember that saturated fats make up a majority of your cell membranes in your body and your hormones among other things…so, why would you starve your body of the building blocks it needs to create itself???? you dont hold back on the protien to build your muscles do you>?????

  22. says

    Geoff- Pasture raised, non-hydrogenated Lard is a very nutritious fat compared with factory lard or rancid oils.

    Good lard is only 40% SATURATED fat, with 48% MONOUNSATURATED and 12% POLYUNSATURATED fat. That is so very similar to the butterfat content of human breast milk.
    Human breastmilk has slightly more saturated fat and less monounsaturated. Pasture raised lard also contains cancer fighting CLA and other essential fats we need.

    Here is more detailed info on lard with references you might want to check out: http://footstepsfarm.com/footstepsfarmblog/2009/11/lard-facts-again.html

  23. says

    This is great! To get real information about real food into the mainstream media is a wonderful accomplishment. Most people do not have a clue about what real, nourishing food actually is – and this website contains so much that would be of great help to them. Thank you for spreading the truth about Real Food!

  24. Jenny says

    Stanley -

    Thank you so much for your comment.  I really appreciate.  It’s a pleasure to see that real food is finally getting some of the recognition it so deserves.  I’m so thankful for organizations like the Weston A Price Foundation and the Price Pottenger Nutritional Foundation that helped me to find my own way to real and traditional foods.

    Blessings -

    Jenny

  25. Thomas Cappiello says

    “Blogger Jennifer McGruther, creator of NourishedKitchen.com, recommends tossing out all processed and refined foods in the kitchen. ”

    What a waste, you know some people out there would like to just not be hungry. Why not at the very least give to a food bank? The stuff won’t kill you, and in fact may save lives. Hunger is for real, don’t waste food, please.

    I laud the attempts to reduce or eliminate processed food, but this is a bit on the fanatical side for me. I eat mostly whole foods, but why give up things like pasta?, I’m not going to sit there and waste precious hours of my time grinding whole wheat berries into flour, and I am definitely not giving up my parmesiano reggiano cheese and Sriracha chili sauce!!

    It is great that this philosophy is seeing a revival but this is nothing new and revelatious, hasn’t anyone ever read “The Good Life” by the Nearings?? Us old hippy types have been against ADM types, chemicals, and GMOs for years, and we were labeled “communists” anti-American thrown out of relevance as the drug-induced radical counter-culture. We were even robbed of our “Organics” now owned by the federal government. Can’t even grow a vegetable now and sell it without the government telling you whether its organic or not. More power to you getting people back to the garden and eating how we were meant to!

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