By Sandra G. Malhotra, Ph.D.
Food (/fo–od/) Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.
The blog topic for the next couple of months is glorious, beautiful, real food — where to get it, why it’s important, and how to have a positive relationship with it. We hope by the end of it you are craving something delicious and nourishing.
However, as I write this, I think about how out of place such an article would have been a couple of generations ago. My Mom-mom Pasquarelli did not need instructions on how to prepare meals and nourish her family. I bet yours didn’t either.
So when did food and eating become so complicated? Isn’t it something we humans have been doing for millennia without an instruction manual? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
According to fabulous food journalist Michael Pollan, eating became complicated in the West when we surrendered our ancestral knowledge in exchange for said instruction manuals from the corporate food scientists and government.
Think about it. Everyone in the US has some type of ethnic heritage (Native people, European, Asian, African, etc), and along with that heritage came a way of eating. In the parts of the world where people still follow those ancestral diets, the people tend to be healthier. Consider the diet based on fish and rice of the Japanese, the Mediterranean diet of the Italians, and the curries from India. These foods are all minimally processed, fresh, full of vegetables and nourishing. There is also a stronger connection between the people and where their food comes from.
Now consider American staples – fast food, frozen dinners, meals from boxes, invented things (we’re looking at you, margarine) — all developed by corporate food scientists with proclamations on the boxes about being fortified with this or that nutrient and therefore healthy. Bollocks!
These food-like substances are made from the cheapest ingredients possible and preserved with ungodly chemicals so they can sit around for months or years and still be sold for a profit. They are enzymatically dead and devoid of significant nutrition. This is not food, which by definition provides nutrition. These items are nothing more than profitable junk.
And what has this reliance on food science and nutrients achieved? Over 60% of us are either overweight or obese, disconnected from where our food comes from, overfed, undernourished, and likely sick. It’s 2017, we’ve accomplished amazing technical feats, and yet our grocery stores are full of poison. Meanwhile Big Food corporations become rich and buy off craven onion-eyed horn-beast  politicians to ensure the status quo.
I find this state of affairs infuriating. But the good news is we can do something about this each and every day. If funds are tight, never spend your money on soda, artificial snack foods, cookies, or cheap baked goods. Farmer’s Markets in our area accept SNAP and one stand at my local market allows you to fill up a big plastic bag with anything on their table for $10. If funds are more plentiful, buy from your local regenerative farmer or CSA. Buy organic and seasonal whenever possible and eat how your grandparents, or great-grandparents, ate.
Our demands for whole nourishing foods are not falling on deaf ears, so we need to keep up the pressure. The companies that want to thrive are listening and adjusting. Those who won’t change are fighting for the status quo. But it’s only a matter of time before they either get with the program or go the way of VHS.
Join me and all of our contributors for a celebration of beautiful food. Then go forth and demand it.
As mom-mom would say, mangia!
 This insult courtesy of the Shakespearean Insult Kit I had the pleasure of seeing on Facebook. The person who posted it challenged all recipients to use it in their next piece of writing, and I am happy to oblige.