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What is the Traditional Foods Movement?

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Choosing what to eat nowadays has become complicated. Worried consumers and tired adults are faced everyday with the challenge of picking between the new miracle diet pill, focusing on low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie, the amazing diet that helped Jenny lose 50 pounds in 2 months, starving, juicing, eating everything, eating nothing…

There is so much confusing information out there. We are bombarded with nutritional claims and data on a daily basis, if not on an hourly basis if you browse facebook, watch TV or socialize.

Her boyfriend broke up with her because she was too fat, what she did next will surprise you.

What did she do next?! What is the secret that has got him begging on his knees to get her back?!! And what about that skinny friend that shared “Top 5 reasons not to eat eggs”? I mean, she’s really skinny so there must be some truth there… What about the thousands of claims we see at super markets? Mr. Quaker says “oatmeal helps remove cholesterol.” Should I eat Quaker oatmeal everyday? Twice a day? Should I only eat oatmeal?

Eating didn’t use to be a science. Before the beginning of last century people didn’t know there were different types of fat and most people didn’t know what carbohydrates were, and they got by just fine. Vitamin C wasn’t discovered til the 1930s, yet a common remedy to treat Scurvy (a disease due to vitamin C deficiency) since antiquity was eating citrus fruits (which are now known to be an excellent source of vitamin C).

People in a society learned how to cook from each other or from their mothers, who in turn learned to cook from their mothers, and their mothers from their mothers, traced back to generations of trial-and-error and of using what ingredients were available in the most nourishing method possible.

I was lucky to meet my great-grandmother. She lived for 102 years and she never fussed about how much animal fat she was eating or whether she should be cutting down on the “carbs.”

Our ancestors never had as much food as easy to access as we do now. Malnutrition due to scarcity was common – a foreign concept to our modern first world countries. Yet we’ve never been so unsure with what to do with so much food.

The traditional foods movement is a fad-free approach to cooking and eating, based on recipes, techniques and ingredients that have nourished societies through millennia.

In the words of Jennifer McGruther, author of The Nourished Kitchen:

Traditional foods are the foods of our great-great grandmothers—the foods of gardens and of farms. They represent a system of balance, emphasizing the value of meat and milk, grain and bean, vegetables and fruits.

There is a movement afoot to restore this way of eating. The movement honors the connection between the foods that we eat, how we prepare these foods, and where they come from. In this way, the traditional foods movement celebrates the connection between the farm that produces the food, the cook who prepares it, and the individuals who eat it. Traditional foods is a system of connection, emphasizing support for time-honored ways in farming, cooking, and eating, and finding a place for fat and lean, animal and vegetable, raw and cooked.

Where other diets and philosophies of eating emphasize good and bad, black and white, a message of balance exists within the traditional foods movement. Unlike vegan and vegetarian diets, which restrict animal foods, the traditional foods movement emphasizes their importance while encouraging the purchase of locally produced meats, milks, cheeses, and fats from grass-fed and pasture-raised animals. Where the Paleo diet restricts grain, pulses, and dairy, the traditional foods movement embraces them, focusing not only on how the food is produced, but also on how it is prepared to maximize the nutrients it contains. While the raw foods movement restricts cooked foods, the traditional foods movement embraces them, honoring the place of cooking as one of balance in partnership with raw foods, and fermented foods, too.

Emphasizing whole and minimally processed foods, the traditional foods movement calls you back to the kitchen, to real home cooking, and offers you an opportunity to weave the connections between the food on your table, the time you take to prepare it, and the farms that produce it.

Hi! Thanks for reading! I’m a certified nutritionist with a business degree. I write about the local + sustainable foods scenes in The Woodlands and share recipes made from scratch! Keep in touch and follow me!

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