Food Inequality

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Blood & Tongue
Creative Commons License photo credit: Venture Vancouver

All foods are not created equal. Meat has more amino acids than grains. Fruits have more sugars than vegetables. But even two “identical” foods aren’t necessarily any such thing. A chicken fed an omnivorous diet—meaning that it gets some meat in the form of food scraps, or ideally, insects—has more tryptophan in its flesh than a chicken fed only grains. Grass fed beef and wild game have as much as seven times more Omega-3 fatty acids as feedlot beef. Coconut oil is loaded with fatty acids the body needs that are not found in corn or canola oil. Then there’s the issue of freshness.

Vegetables and fruits, in particular, are full of enzymes when they are still growing. In fact, enzymatic activity is how plants grow (and how the human body does its cellular repair work). When you eat a salad from a supermarket, the freshest lettuce is usually at least three days old and the average head of lettuce has traveled at least 1500 miles. Contrast that to a salad that was growing in the ground half an hour before it was on your plate

At our house, raw milk, again loaded with enzymes, is almost never more than 48 hours old. We could drink it even sooner if we didn’t need to chill it and let the cream rise. Eggs—when the egg you eat for breakfast was under the hen half an hour before, it simply can’t be compared to a supermarket egg. Supermarket eggs can be stored from 30-45 days before you buy them. Want a clue as to the age of a supermarket egg? Hard-boiled fresh eggs are almost impossible to peel; it takes about two weeks of storage to make an easy-peel egg because that’s how long it takes for the egg to develop a decent-sized air cell under the shell. But you can peel most supermarket eggs without the slightest trouble, so what does that say about their age?

My rule of thumb is that the closer a food is to being alive when I eat it, the better it is for my own live body. In a perfect world, we’d be able to eat our fruits and veggies by going out and grazing in the garden or orchard—which is what I do when I’m harvesting. Maybe I can’t get food that fresh every day, but I will try to get it as often as I can.

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