How Do We Eat? (Part 1)
In order to understand how we approach food at the Godwin house, you'll first have to take a look at the historic benchmarks we look to for guidance. We use the 10,000+ year history of accumulated human experience as primary reference point. Because this life-pattern has been dramatically interrupted by the industrialization of civilization over the last 200 years, we have to look back before the 1800s to observe the the eating practices that were normative for humanity for the majority of history.
There are several basic principles that ALL ancestral cultures held in common with regard to their dietary practices--no matter the geographic location or the time period. This clues us into the principles ought to guide our values as we select our food today! The following list outlines the things that all ancestral cultures had in common and we likewise eagerly embrace!
Ancestral cultures across time and geographic location held the following in common:
They eagerly embraced animal fats and organ meats from animals caught in the wild or pasture-raised on farms, rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, and K2. Both animal fats and organ meats were HIGHLY prized. They knew instinctively and observationally that these foods were critical to vibrant health and fertility.
Real Fat was the core and the foundation of nutrient-dense ancestral diets, making up 30% - 80% of their caloric intake. Real fat included plant fats like coconut oil, palm oil, and olive oil, but especially the real animal fats such as lard, tallow, schmaltz, cod liver oil, butter, and cream.
They used and consumed as many parts of the whole animal as they could for reasons both practical (waste not want not) and nutritional (they recognized that each part of the animal contributed different parts of a complete nutrient package)
Where available they embraced, full-fat, raw dairy and cheeses as very nutrient-dense superfood. Pastured dairy from traditional breeds of cattle, goat, camel, and sheep was a familiar and core part of many ancestral diets.
They fermented and cultured many kinds of food and drink - both for the preservational properties of the fermentation process. Cultured yogurt, kefir, kombucha, wine, beer, and lacto-fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles are just a few of the yummy things developed by our ancestors.
When consuming seeds and nuts, legumes, or grains ancestral cultures either soaked or fermented them in order to deactivate the enzyme inhibitors, tannins and phytic acid which are present in the raw form of these food and render them both indigestible and damaging to our guts due to their tendency to lacerate digestive membranes, and pull nutrients out of the body.
Salt was a component of all ancestral diets
No ancestral culture was intentionally vegetarian (with the exception of small sects of religious orders who abstained from meat for spiritual and contraceptive purposes) otherwise all consumed plants and animal foods together - and all ate fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables in season along with dried and fermented local fruits and plants out of season.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this post where we'll talk about how we apply these principles in our contemporary setting.
For more detailed information about ancestral eating practices visit the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation