Nurse Susan Clinton explains the nutrients we need and how to find them in local sources.
We are all getting messages to make healthier food and lifestyle choices.
Print media and advertising messages are confusing and contradictory. Food and gas prices are skyrocketing. We are told we should support our local farmers and try to eat a diet of foods that are grown or made within 100 miles of where we live. Can we really do that? Is it really better for ourselves and our families if we try to do?
Well, within 100 miles of the Kingston area, you certainly can obtain everything you need to support your own and your family’s health!
Take a look at the centre of this paper to see the abundance of foods available right at our doorsteps. We have maple sugar bushes, apiaries (honey farms), cheese factories, fresh organic produce and organic pastured beef, pork, chicken, rabbit, bison, eggs, milk and dairy products - the list goes on.
So, what should we be eating? And what’s all the fuss about eating fresh, locally grown foods from farms that support sustainable agriculture?
Relocalisation is a relatively new term that speaks to the belief that a community should produce and distribute as much food as possible locally, rather than importing from another community or country.
What we need to be doing is supporting local farmers, the local economy and ultimately the health of all who live in the community, by shopping locally. Locally produced organic produce and pastured livestock and poultry are nutrient dense foods; foods that support our health and well-being.
Traditional cultures knew people needed nutrient-dense foods to be healthy.
Dr. Weston A. Price, DDS who once said “Life in all its fullness is Mother Nature obeyed” was a dentist raised in Newburgh, Ontario, a community not far from Kingston. Based on studies he conducted in the 1920s and 1930s on the diets of traditional cultures (those that resisted the incorporation of processed and refined foods into their diets), the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat are pasture-raised animals and their products. According to Healthy 4 Life, a booklet published by the Weston A. Price Foundation and available online, we need to be eating high quality whole foods every day from each of the four food groups to provide an abundance of nutrients. These include:
1. Pasture-raised meat and organ meats, poultry and eggs; fish and shellfish; whole raw cheese, milk and other dairy products from pastured animals and broth made from the bones of animals.
Animal foods supply important nutrients that we cannot get from other foods. These nutrients include:
Complete protein for building the body
- Vitamin B12 for healthy blood and brain
- Vitamin A for healthy eyes, skin and brain
- Vitamin D for protection against depression and disease
- Vitamin K2 for healthy blood, bones and brain
- Cholesterol for building the brain and intestinal tract in growing children
- Special types of fat for normal growth, learning and memory, and protection against disease
Animal foods are also better sources of many nutrients than plant foods including grains. These nutrients include:
- Calcium for healthy bones
- Copper for healthy blood
- Magnesium for healthy cells
- Iron for healthy blood and good energy
- Zinc for healthy brains and protection against infection
- Vitamin B6 for general good health
These are important nutrients for building a healthy body and keeping it strong!
2. Locally grown vegetables and fruit, either fresh or frozen (if not in season), raw or cooked, and also as lacto-fermented condiments (like sauerkraut) eaten every day for health.
Vegetables and fruit add interest and variety to the diet. Compared to animal foods, they are not as dense in most nutrients; however, they provide B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as a range of minerals and other compounds that protect us from disease.
Vegetables are most nutritious when served with a fat or oil, such as salad with homemade olive oil dressing, cooked vegetables with butter, or soup with cream. The nutrients in fruits and vegetables are easier for our bodies to absorb when they are eaten with good fats.
3. Fats and oils from natural sources are essential. Saturated and mono-unsaturated fats (including butter, lard, meat fats, poultry fat and other animal fats; palm and coconut oils, olive oil, and cod liver oil) need to be eaten for the vitamins A and D they contain. Only animals raised in sunlight produce vitamin D3, which is stored in their fat. We need to eat these natural fats to be healthy! Diseases of nutritional depletion are rampant in our society (like arthritis or type II diabetes).
4. Whole grains, legumes and nuts. These especially include ancient grains such as spelt, kamut and quinoa (to replace at least some of the wheat we eat every day), whole-grain baked goods, breakfast porridges, whole grain rice, beans and lentils, peanuts, cashews and other nuts – all properly prepared to improve digestibility.
Even organically grown grains are not as nutrient-dense as animal products, vegetables and fruits, and therefore should be eaten in smaller amounts. Most people are not aware that grains are one of the most difficult foods to digest if not prepared properly, and can be responsible for a variety of inflammatory responses that manifest in the body.
Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon is an excellent resource for preparing foods in the most nutritious way possible. If you purchase only one cookbook, this is the one I would recommend.
A society where nutritional deficiencies run rampant
Crowded teeth, cavities and chronic disease are all signs of nutritional deficiencies.
The young girl on the left (in the above photo) ate only traditional, non-processed, nutrient-dense foods. The girl on the right, however, had parents who had switched to the “foods of modern commerce.”
Dr. Weston Price traveled around the world studying different cultures to discover the cause of health and dental disorders. Wherever he found a culture eating locally grown and raised foods, he found many populations virtually immune to dental decay and deformities, and without degenerative diseases. Interestingly, he did not find any traditional cultures eating a strictly vegan diet.
We have lost our way since the time of Weston Price! Today most of our popular foods are processed and grain-based, made from wheat or corn, or soy. Many nutrients that are abundant in pasture-raised animals, including vitamins D and K2, are absent from grains.
Without sufficient vitamin K2:
- Growth, especially in the middle third of the face, is deficient. This also affects a child’s airway - we have an epidemic of children with asthma in our country.
- Phosphorus and calcium does not get deposited in the bones and teeth. Dental decay and osteoporosis are common diseases in our society.
- Calcification and inflammation of the arteries occurs. Incidence of heart disease and stroke are on the rise.
- Degeneration of the protective myelin sheath covering nerves takes place. This disease is known as Multiple Sclerosis.
- Reproductive health is diminished. Need I mention the number of fertility clinics that have appeared in the last 30 years?
Fortunately for us, rich local sources of vitamin K2 include goose liver, cheeses, egg yolk, butter, chicken liver, fatty meats, sauerkraut and Natto (fermented soy). Notice that there are no grains on this list.
After all of this, you may be asking yourself, “Where do I go from here? What should I do now?”
You have several options:
1. Find out where your local farmer’s markets are and plan to visit one. When speaking with sellers of local food, make sure that their understanding of what “local” means is the same as yours.
2. Get in touch with one of the farmers featured in the centre-fold of this paper. They are a wealth of information and resources, and many will host farm visits.
3. Participate as a share-holder in a CSA farm. It is an amazing way to ensure you bring local foods into your kitchen.
4. If and when you eat out, ask the restaurant owners / chefs if they include local food in their menus, and if what you are ordering comes from a local farm.
5. Grow some of your own!
Susan Clinton is a Registered Nurse, a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, and leader of the Kingston area chapter of the Weston A. Price Foundation.