Eating “As Low on the Food Chain as You Can”

Warning – this might be a rant.

Many moons ago, back when I still listened to AM radio, I heard a physician on a call-in show called “Ask the Doctor” make a pronouncement about food and healthy eating, and it stuck with me:

Eat as low on the food chain as you can.

Meaning:

  • know what you’re eating, where it came from, and what went into it
  • be a locavaore! eat fresh, locally grown foods as much as possible
  • limit processed foods with “fake” or altered ingredients (anybody seen the latest news about sugar substitutes lately?- it ain’t good)
  • make dishes from scratch when you can
  • avoid foods that are pre-cut, pre-marinated, pre-mixed, pre-packaged, pre-anything (don’t even get me started on the topic of meat with saline solution injected)

The radio doctor’s arguments were based on simple truths: the more hands that touch your food and the more processing it undergoes, the more likely you are to encounter bacteria, unhealthy and unnecessary additives or preservatives, or the loss or degradation of vital nutrients.

I really believe in this philosophy, and that’s why I loathe fast-food restaurants and love farmers’ markets and locally-owned, non-chain establishments. It doesn’t matter if they’re famous like Pike Place Market in Seattle or the shops on the Rue de Martyrs in Paris, or humble little mom and pop establishments, or small-town markets like our (surprisingly large and popular) Tomball Farmers Market.

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A produce vendor on the Rue de Martyrs in Paris (love that street!)

That’s why I make my own chicken, vegetable, beef and seafood stock with bones, shells or vegetable trimmings rather than buying canned stock and freeze it until the need arises. Right now, all I have is vegetable stock.

Vegetable Stock.JPG
“Spicy Veg Stock” in my freezer, waiting to be needed – maybe for tortilla soup

That’s why I use real butter and eschew margarine, and make my own marinades, and peel my own carrots rather than buying those bogus, whittled-down “baby” carrots.

carrots
There’s no such thing as a “baby” carrot

That’s why I have vegetable and herb gardens most years.

Peppers
A very late harvest of peppers last winter

That’s why I love it when the Grill-Meister makes his marvelous pizza dough from scratch and we throw on our own unique mix of ingredients rather than ordering from Domino’s or Papa John’s or one of those other cardboard and cheese vendors. The pizza below was a delicious Glover Gardens creation: the Grill-Meister’s smoked chicken with white onions, goat cheese and red pepper flakes popped into the pizza oven for about 8 minutes, and then topped with fresh grape tomato slivers and dabs of fig jam from Just Pure Flavors, one of my favorite vendors at our local farmers market.

That “eat low on the food chain” philosophy is why I will never, ever eat fast-food fried chicken again in my natural lifetime. But the other reasons are the PTSD from the last time I ate fast-food fried chicken – and the food poisoning, with its subsequent dehydration, fainting, and concussion from hitting a ceramic tile floor.  It was 24 years ago, but it’s still really too soon to talk about it…

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Photo from Popeye’s Facebook page

After all these declarations, I’m not as pure as I might sound, though; I have embraced a few notable exceptions to this philosophy, which I will share in other posts.  I think I can defend all of them, but you can be the judge. Also, I haven’t made the logical transition to vegetarian that you might expect after reading a rant like this, but I do really love vegetables and am always interested in the recipes posted in the vegetarian blogs I follow (you know who you are).

Resources:

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Photo from Buzzfeed article via blogger.com

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

2 thoughts on “Eating “As Low on the Food Chain as You Can”

  1. I so agree – I don’t follow all of this all the time either but a) I’m a vegetarian and b) we both almost always make everything from scratch. John is the pizza chef in our house. Need for speed sometimes dictates a pragmatic decision to buy something ready made though. I don’t know anything about saline injected meat, but American chlorine washed chicken is talked about here post Brexit. EU food standards are high and the worry is that once we leave ours will drop so that we can import food with lower standards.

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