It’s the process. Not fats. Not carbs.
I’m on a keto diet, and you might think because of that I love the first two and hate the last one.
And you’d be wrong. I hate bad science, stubborn ignorance and fake foods.
Food is complex. It matters how it’s grown, how it’s cooked, how it’s eaten.
I absolutely love some fatty foods — sardines in EVOO, wild salmon with bones and skin, grass-fed butter from Ireland and New Zealand, Icelandic cod liver, farmer’s grade duck livers, Thai avocados, olives from Greece, Spain and Italy, 100% chocolate made from Criollo cacao beans… — I could go on and on. I’m a fatty foods connoisseur!
You know what I hate?
Industrial low-quality fats, that are marketed to us as “heart-healthy” food ingredients (nothing can be further from the truth) — yellow liquids in clear bottles, canola, peanut, sunflower, refined olive and other oils, fake butters — yuck! It makes me nauseous, when I remember those restaurant meals cooked in low-grade fats. I’d feel stuffed, low on energy, lethargic — it felt like I did something wrong to my body. Those meals would zap my energy and happiness. I’d wake up the next day feeling and looking older. And I never could figure out what was wrong with me, was it too much food? Too much fat? NO! It was bad food!
You go to any supermarket and you’ll find isles and isles of franken fats, that were invented for convenience, to increase shelf life of other foods, to make use of all the crops we grow to feed animals and for our other industrial needs. These fats are cheap to make, easy to store, to deal with, and our restaurant and foods industries, for the most part, are concerned about profits not about our global human health.
But how we process food makes a huge difference!
I grew up spending most summers at my grandma’s farm in the South of Russia — “u babushki”, as we say it in Russian. We had our own (they still have them) cows, pigs, sheep, our garden, our orchard.
I loved a cup of warm milk right from under the cow on a beautiful summer evening, or a glass of cooled milk on a hot sunny summer afternoon, after I was done chasing butterflies in the fields. My grandma, or other family members would milk the cow, and that was it, the milk was ready, with cream floating on top. I loved everything, that was made out of it — cream, butter, yogurt, cheese, tvorog, kefir — heck, I even made butter myself! It took me a day with a very rustic mechanic machine! An experience I’ll never forget!
As many people of Caucasian origin, I tolerate dairy really well.
But not supermarket dairy. That is a completely different animal.
Every time I consume supermarket dairy, I bloat up like a balloon, holding water, feeling sluggish and heavy. Organic or not. If it was pasteurized and homogenized — my body would reject it. So now I almost never consume any dairy. No milk, no yogurts, no butter, no kefir, no cheese. No supermarket dairy for me please!
When I coach my clients as a nutritionist, I recommend them to stay away from dairy. But I’m not against dairy. I am against supermarket dairy.
I understand, that it’s being pasteurized and homogenized to prevent people from getting sick of some infection, to make milk last longer, to make it all taste the same, to make milk pretty by making top layer of cream disappear. But in that process, something was forever changed, something, that turns that dairy into a foreign substance for our body, that does much more bad than good.
We can still make it better. But not by making it low fat or lactose free.
Most of our modern bread is a disaster!
And not because of carbs.
Most of our modern bread is a disaster, because of a few reasons, the most important ones: tons of ingredients, that don’t belong in a good loaf of high-quality bread, and the process we use today to make bread fast and efficient.
Most of the ingredients in modern bread are added to make it last longer, to make it look and taste decent. And the reason, why we added all these ingredients to make bread last longer, look and taste better — is we completely re-invented the process of bread making. And not for the better.
Where previously we would use a very particular type of yeast, most often a starter dough, and a fermentation process, that took at least 12–14 hours, a fermentation process, when microorganisms, Lactobacillus, and yeast, would eat up gluten and starches, digest many nutrients for us, releasing acid and alcohol, that would naturally kill off all the pathogens and harmful bacteria, fungus, making it last forever with just 4 basic ingredients: flour, yeast, salt and water.
My grandma would put her starter dough with the ingredients to rise one morning. And I knew, that the next morning (in like 24 hours) there would be a lot of baking — loafs of bread and “bulochki” (kind of a sweet bagel beautifully shaped into knots), which I was especially a fan of, and was famous in my family for eating hips of them, while everyone wondered how this tiny girl could eat so much!
And that bread, those bulochki would last forever! No mold! No preservatives!
Sourdough is the kind of bread, made using this ancient food “technology”. But not all sourdough is created equal, the ancient method my grandma used is preserved mostly in artisanal bakeries. It differs in the kind of yeast used, in time allowed for the dough to sit and microorganisms to do their work.
“There’s a sourdough library in Belgium which aims to collect and catalogue starter doughs from around the world. In Sweden, a sourdough hotel will maintain your starter for you, while you’re on holiday.”
In original sourdough microorganisms will digest gluten, meaning, that real sourdough should either be low in gluten or gluten-free. Modern sourdough is not given the time and the ingredients to make this process work — you can’t speed up life, at least we don’t know how yet.
Might that be the reason for all the gluten sensitivities on the rise now? We might never have eaten the kind and the amount of gluten we consume today!
So, am I pro fat? Pro dairy? Against bread? Because I choose a ketogenic diet as a lifestyle?
The kinds of fatty foods, how it’s all preserved (like Olive oil in clear bottles — madness!), how it’s cooked, how it’s eaten, what animals ate, what kind of “terra” cultivated the plants we eat, the microorganisms involved in food making — all of that matters.
I would never touch (knowingly) any industrial fat in a clear bottle, any fake butter, no matter how low carb or low calories, or whatever the next fad is! Nor would I touch supermarket dairy. But I’d go for my grandma’s milk and bulochki any day of the year!
We think we are so much smarter than our food traditions. Anything that has “innovation” in its story is considered to be a superfood food of some sort. Especially if it saves some snails, that nobody even knew existed before! But some things were better. Not everything, that can be changed should be changed.
Freezing technology got better, to a point, where frozen vegetables are better than “fresh” ones from somewhere across the globe. Canning of seafood got better. We are making fruit and vegetables last longer using nature’s technology. Many things got better!
But not fake oils, supermarket dairy or modern bread.