Food Is Medicine, But What’s Considered Food?

Reader Contribution by Mishelle Shepard

Allergies, Intolerances, IBS? The typical American diet is truly, well, let’s be totally frank here, it’s disgusting. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE the comfort foods: mac & cheese, burgers and dogs, pizza, BBQ, all of it. At one time in our recent past, these were good foods. Sometimes you can still find them that way, or better yet, create them at home yourself, from scratch, not from a box. Nowadays, the crap that passes for these “traditional” American foods should not be called food at all, they need another word entirely, one that means they have been processed so completely that only the form, some remote part of its original shape or appearance, make it something that once resembled something we should be calling food.

You may think the topics of food and modern day digestive disorders have nothing to do with homesteading, but you’d be dead wrong. Homesteading is a lifestyle founded on self-reliance, especially concerning our basic needs. Luckily when you live in the south, food can trump every other need, including shelter. We camped for two winters while building our cabin; we were cold, but even then we never ate convenience foods, except maybe once, when days of rain kept us from cooking so long we were forced to heat up canned soup on the propane burner inside the tent. Looking back now with the smell of roasted chicken and garlic wafting through the room while the temperature outside is already dipping down into the 20s, we laugh, “How did we do it?” We laugh some more when the pup whines at the door, because now he is also already spoiled by the warm fire. I really don’t know exactly how we did it, but there’s no doubt, we even liked doing it.

You can’t even begin to consider yourself self-sufficient if you open your freezer door to a stock pile of convenience foods rather than foods in their “natural” state. Controlling as much of the food chain as possible solves the primary homesteading issue, at least philosophically: If I need it, I want to be able to produce it, or at the very least, have the knowledge and skill to do so. It also solves a practical homesteading issue: For one thing the doctors are far away, but mostly I really hate doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, and every other place that is full of sick strangers and reeks of antiseptic. That is a fantastic motivator for staying healthy.

The closer our food is to its source, the more nutritious it is, period. There are digestive enzymes, delicate minerals and vitamins, probiotics, all kinds of good stuff that I will admit I have no real knowledge about, except that THEY WORK!

I am a case to prove it, and so are loads more folks. Being the lifetime cheese and bread lover any Francophile would be, when I had to give them both up it was, well honestly, at first it was just plain murder. But by “giving them up” I found that I really didn’t have to surrender them totally. I simply had to change their position on my menu. They could no longer be at the top, right after water and wine, they had to be way down there somewhere between rarely and only during PMS.

So, how did I, and so many others do it, and without the help of convenience foods or modern medicine? Check back next time, and I’ll reveal all my secrets.

  • Published on Dec 28, 2009
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