This is a picture of my JERF shirt. I've worn it a few times, but I'm still too vain to post pictures of myself in a tank top. One of these days, maybe.
One of my favourite podcasters these days is Sean Croxton at Underground Wellness. He makes YouTube videos, has a podcast and a blog and a book and everything people need to have nowadays to make an impact. He's a reformed personal trainer who has gone from the "Eat Less, Move More" mantra of the low-fat paradigm to a holistic, paleo-type version of reality. He has hosted the Paleo Summit and the Real Food Summit, and the latter has become his latest passion. Since that is a passion I share, I'd love to talk about it some more.
When I was growing up in Israel, there were fast food restaurants, and I believe we may have patronised them from time to time. There were definitely real and good restaurants, and I have fond memories of going there, especially a Yemenite restaurant in Tel Aviv called Zion, which absolutely had the best hummus I have ever eaten anywhere, any time.
But most of the time, we ate at home. We shopped at the local grocery store and there was a "yarkan", a greengrocer, who came by once or twice a week to sell fresh produce from the surrounding farms. Later, when I was older, we went to the supermarket in the nearby town. Now the little local grocery store in the village is closed up and I don't know what happened to the "yarkan", but my family members who live in Israel still mostly buy and prepare real food. I should add that these are people who work full-time, so they are just as pressed for time as anybody else. They just care about what they put in their mouths. I remember my mother being creative with leftovers - Friday night's chicken usually ended up in chicken fried rice by Wednesday or so.
The same was true when I was a student in Amsterdam in the eighties. We ate out, but it was real food cooked in a restaurant kitchen. We mostly cooked at home and invited each other over for dinner. Real food was our life. If we had no money, we bought cheap food, but it was still food. Cooking for your friends was the ultimate expression of love for them.
I'm not sure when and how those concepts got lost in North America. Somehow it seems to be elitist to be interested in the provenance of your food, and you are expected to pay extra for the privilege of eating food that isn't drenched in Roundup. How did this happen, and why?
I know the story of the munitions factories that needed to be converted into fertiliser producers after the war, and of women who were sold the myth that they were much too busy to cook for their families. I remember TV dinners - we lived in the US for a few years in the sixties and seventies, and I think my mother bought a few out of curiosity. They certainly weren't a staple - ugh! I remember making my mother buy horrible cotton-like bread because I wanted the Bicentennial stickers (anybody remember those?). And yet that food was probably more nutritious than what we are feeding our children today - and there were no giant sodas.
I have busy children who sometimes have activities that keep them away from home at dinnertime. I hate those weeks - the dinner table is such an important place to reconnect at the end of the day. My wallet, their nutrition and our relationship all suffer when they are away from our dinner table too many nights a week. We are all sugar addicts but we are working diligently on taking better care of ourselves, and that means real food as much as possible. Fruit, nuts and cheese will make you feel so much better than granola bars or cookies.
Real food not only nourishes our bodies, it connects our souls and helps us feel rooted to our families and our land. What are you doing to feed yourself and those you love real food?