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A Look Into My Notes

February 1, 2012

So many people ask me how school is going and how I’m liking the curriculum. I always answer with a definitive “I LOVE IT!”. Many of my teachers and chefs have been involved in food and health for several decades and I feel privileged to be able to learn from them. For instance, Chef Jill taught our sea vegetable class and told us that not only has she spent many years eating a Macrobiotic diet (which encourages regular consumption of sea veg), but she wrote a book on the subject and also spent time hand-harvesting wild plant foods from the ocean floor. How amazing is that? Our class on fats and oils was taught by the actual president of our school and I will learn all about macrobiotic living from none other than AnneMarie Colbin, the founder of our school and expert in her field. Pinch me, I must be dreaming!

All of these classes have given me a wealth of information, some is new to me, some has reinforced what I already know, but all of it is instrumental in eating a healthy diet and making wise choices. I was looking through my notes the other day and realized that some of these facts that are burned into my brain and come second nature to me may be completely foreign to my readers. I thought I’d compile a short list of some things everyone should know. Please post questions below!

Did you know?

    1. Today, a mere four crops account for 2/3 of the calories humans eat. Historically, humankind has consumed up to 80,000 edible species and 3,000 of them have been in widespread use. Don’t you think we should diversify and change it up a bit?
    2. Have you ever read the ingredients of your “healthy” power bar and wondered what “soy protein isolate” is? I bet you thought (like I used to) that it’s super healthy for you, since it’s soy (that’s what those healthy hippies eat, right??). In simple terms, it’s what you get when you put soybeans under intense pressure and high heat, removing the nutrients and naturally occurring fats to create a denatured protein. It’s basically the same thing as hydrolyzed soy protein and TVP (texturized vegetable protein) and what you’re eating at a Chinese restaurant when you order the “mock” duck or “mock” chicken. Why would you want to eat “mock” anything? It also usually contains MSG to make it taste better. Unfermented soy also contains endocrine disrupters and goitrogens which interfere with our hormones and thyroid. In short, avoid unfermented soy like the plague.
    3. Most of the food in the American food supply has been approved by the FDA to be irradiated. Don’t know what that is? Foods get treated with nuclear, industrial by-products (it’s gotta go somewhere!) to kill off any harmful bacteria. Some say this is a good idea because bad bacteria can make us sick, however irradiation only covers up serious problems with our industrial food system and allows manufacturers to continue dangerous & harmful production practices (like factory animal farming). It alters the molecular structure of the foods and kills naturally occurring enzymes and vitamins, replacing them instead with free radicals and radiolytic products like formaldehyde and other known carcinogens. Doesn’t sound very healthy, does it? To me, it makes more sense to put regulations on food producers so they operate more responsibly. The bad news is there’s no way to know how much of our food is irradiated because food producers do not have to label it. The good news is, irradiation is not allowed in organic food (not yet at least!)
    4. Grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as a skinless chicken breast. Yes, you read that correctly. The reason is because pastured cattle eat a healthy diet and get exercise. Meat from these animals can have 1/3 the amount of fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal, and therefore fewer calories. It also has four times the Vitamin E of feedlot cattle and interestingly twice more than feedlot cattle who get Vitamin E supplements! I can write all day about the differences in these animals but let’s keep things moving…
    5. A tablespoon of butter has less calories than a tablespoon of olive oil. (There are so many health benefits to eating butter that my next blog post will be dedicated to it, so stay posted!) The reason why is because butter is 80% butterfat and 20% milk solids (containing 100 calories) and oils are 100% fat (containing 120 calories). Just one more reason to eat (pastured organic) butter!
    6. Sea vegetables are a form of algae and are one of the oldest life forms on the planet! They grow larger and more abundantly in colder, darker waters and are unparalleled in their concentration of minerals. They are nutrient dense with some varieties providing up to 1400 mg of calcium per 100 gram portion! (compare that to 118 mg in a serving of cow’s milk). They are also high in Vitamin A, potassium, protein and fiber among other good stuff. A little goes a long way, but make sure to eat some seaweed frequently!
One Comment leave one →
  1. Jessica permalink
    December 3, 2012 10:02 pm

    Sea vegetables are super healthy. Or at least they were before our oceans became so polluted. Plus it’s totally unethical to harvest wild-growing sea plants…it only helps the ocean become worse off, espeically for the wild fish and organisms that depend on it. Good thing we don’t need them in our diet. Almost all leafy green vegetables have more calcium than milk along with vitamins and minerals. And who doesn’t love kale? 😉

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