Tonight our book club meets to discuss the book my wife and I sponsored for the month, and it is our obligation to feed them. It is June, the weather is nice, and hamburgers on the grill sounds good to me. As my wife boiled potatoes for the potato salad, I drove into town to the Farmers’ Market.
As you know, I am interested in self renewal, bouncing back from the stress of life. Baby Boomers need more bouncing back, because we are getting a bit worn down. One of the most surprising tools for bouncing back is changing our eating habits. The Mediterranean diet is the most widely supported self renewal eating plan. It helps heart health, reduces cancer risk, reduces blood pressure. And, surprisingly enough it improves your mental health.
There are several good studies on the Mediterranean diet reducing your risk of depression. I don’t mean a small reduction. I mean a huge reduction in depression risk. That diet does NOT support eating red meat. Protein is generally from fermented milk products (kefir, yogurt) and fish. The fish are rich in omega-3 PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids). Those are great, they are likely why people on the Mediterranean diet are much lower in depression.
But here I am at the Farmers Market buying beef. What’s up with that? After all, we all know eating red meat is a no-no when it comes to self renewal. How can we bounce back with our diets are loaded with saturated fat?
I have become convinced that the bad reputation that red meat has is mostly unfair. The evil saturated fat is not necessarily a part of red meat. It comes from feeding our animals grains. We fatten our cattle on corn and other grains, and that corn does turn into saturated fat. But Mother Nature didn’t make cows to eat corn. She made cows to eat grass. It turns out that if you buy beef that is fed only on grass, beef that has never eaten corn, the fat in that meat is VERY low in saturated fat. There is a very important group of fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acids (CLA) that help reduce cancer and improve our health. You can ONLY get CLA from grass fed animals. You can’t get it from fish.
But you also get a lot of omega-3 PUFAs from the grass-fed beef. In fact, they have the same ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 as Alaskan salmon. So the grass fed beef MIGHT be just as healthy for us as eating salmon and other fish. Frankly, I have mixed feelings about fish. I live a very long way from the ocean, so healthy ocean fish is not a sustainable diet for me. I love fish, I am grateful to the airline industry that allows me to eat fresh fish, but unless I live on the seashore, I don’t see it as truly sustainable.
But beef is. You can buy local eggs from chickens that are “pastured” or in other words chickens that actually roam pastures. Beware of “free range chicken” as a label, because those are words controlled by the federal government, and like all government labels, it doesn’t mean what you think it means. Pastured poultry will be found by searching the internet for “pastured poultry <your town>. Of course, don’t put “your town,” put in the name of your town. I found a family in my town that is raising poultry that way.
Grass fed beef, pastured poultry, locally grown produce may be MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE and if you want to rejuvenate yourself, if you want to be a Baby Boomer with a new healthy outlook, you will have to spend more money on your food. If you want to buy cheap food you will end up with a cheap body. Don’t whine to me when it breaks down at 68 and I am riding 100 mile bike rides at 90.
I am NOT in favor of “organic” as a label because, again, it is controlled by the federal government and it has a lot of silly bureaucrats torturing the farmers who want to qualify for that term. Instead, shop the local farmers markets, look for a farm coop program where you buy a certain percent of a local farmer’s weekly produce, support your local farmer and rancher. That is a sustainable model. Besides that, “organic”is NOT necessarily sustainable. If you live in Iowa and you are buying organically grown lettuce but it comes from California, does that really make sense? Of course not.
So now it is time to start making the patties (into which I mix a little garlic and onion and just a bit of oatmeal) and fire up the grill. My guests are coming, and I am thrilled to give them food that is both good and good for them.
ps: What have YOU tried when it comes to self renewal and eating? Comments?
pps: If you don’t have my book, Enjoy Life: Healing with Happiness, then go to http://enjoylifebook.com and get your very own copy.