Butter – Getting the best quality you can afford

Butter butter everywhere and not a drop that’s real! Ever feel that way staring at the refrigerated section at the supermarket? Diana at Eat More Butter definitely has. Foodie at Kitchen Drawer Online took a series of pictures showing that only about 10% of the butter-like food items in the refrigerated section is actually butter! The remainder is margarine.

Butter quality matters! Beyond the basics of simply avoiding margarine which contains hydrogenated fats, it’s important to find the most vitamin rich – least likely to be adulterated butter you can get your hands on. We’re going to talk about the determining different levels of quality in order to make the best possible quality decision each time we reach for butter.

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Healthy Fats First!

When you have a limited food budget deciding where to put your money first can be daunting. Do you make organic vegetables and fruits highest priority? or supplements? How about free-range, grassfed meat? What comes first? If I know that I can’t afford to buy all quality ingredients right now, which items are most important? Of all the foods to buy in the highest quality possible, it’s most important that fats be of the highest quality you can afford. Why? Much of the fat available in our modern food supply are toxic fats. Avoiding these toxic fats and providing wholesome fat is first priority in maintaining health.

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Raw Milk Goodness

Grandma most likely got her milk from the local dairyman, or milk man. A couple of days a week she would leave a note on the porch with any special instructions about extra cream, or more eggs. And magically milk, cream and eggs would appear on the porch. This milk most likely came from a small local dairy with about 20 or so cows at most. These cows grazed in between milking time. The milk wasn’t pasteurized … it wasn’t homogenized, it was just pure raw whole milk.

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Why Traditional Diets are Better for You

There is much talk these days about diet. What to eat, how to prepare it, how much to eat, so on and so forth. In fact there is so much nervous hand wringing talk about food these days that it begins to sound like the whole country is suffering from an eating disorder. No one seems very confident about their choices. Everyone seems defensive and a bit guilty about what they are eating. It’s not to hard to understand how we’ve ended up in such a fix. With a steady stream of conflicting information from the media on the subject it’s no wonder we’re confused. Scientific studies are published that conflict with prior published findings. We are awash in information. So much so that we can’t put it to use.

So what is a reliable guidepost for making decisions about food? I believe the most reliable guide for deciding all things dietary to be the observation of traditional foodways or food cultures. These traditional diets stand the test of time proving their ability to support and sustain many varied happy and healthy cultures. This is real proof in my book. We are disconnected from our traditional food cultures. This is the root of our anxious relationship with food. It is also the root of our worsening health.

Are people healthier on traditional diets?

If you are 40 or older, think back to your youth. Remember the old-timers you knew as a kid. Grandma and Grandpa were generally in pretty good health for their age. Sure, not everyone was but I bet the number of active, happy elderly people from your childhood outnumber the ones battling chronic ailments. They had large gardens and active social lives, usually at church. They went dancing, square dancing in particular was popular here in Texas. In my memory there are many who were more physically active than most young people are now. Let’s think about now. Do you know very many over the age of 55 or so that are so very active as the elderly people from your childhood? Not from tv, but from your daily life. You probably know quite a few people over 55 now and most are on multiple medications for chronic ailments. Not many would consider the labor of gardening, yet this was a common pastime for old folks in years past. Dancing is now something done for a few brief minutes at your daughter’s wedding, not like the large numbers of square dancing clubs that used to be filled with elderly folks that held contests and frequent exhibitions, with all kinds of fancy homemade Roy Rogers and Dale Evans costuming.

Now think about how they grew up, what they ate. Many grew up on farms, or in small towns close to farms. They ate the produce from local farms or their own family gardens. They had raw milk and cream. They ate eggs and bacon on a daily basis. Now think of how we grew up, what we eat. We grew up on pop-tarts and pasteurized milk. On canned vegetables and twinkies. As both generations grew older their diets have come to include even more processed food but the older generation who ate traditionally as children have proved to be more resilient. I don’t know about you but these people at age 65 ran rings around me at age 16. So who ate the healthier diet?

Cancer, heart disease and allergies were rare ailments prior to 1900. Today, one of every two Americans will suffer from some form of heart disease, one of every three Americans will die of cancer, and 90 million people suffer from allergies. This of course is not iron-clad proof that the diets of 100 years ago were better, but I’d say it’s extremely compelling circumstantial evidence, especially when you consider that all these illnesses are considered to be diet related.

What is a traditional diet?

You can think of a traditional diet as what a typical person from a particular culture ate around 100 or so years ago. This oversimplifies a bit, since some processed food was available even then. But I think it helps to visualize what a traditional diet might look like for you personally.

When we think of a cultures food we typically think about flavors. The spicy cuisines of India and Mexico, for instance. But food culture isn’t just about flavor, culture informed people of what was healthy to eat, and in what proportions. It was about preparing food together, eating it together, about eating at a sane pace in rhythm with the rest of life. It was about the way foods were prepared, what is eaten with what and the seasonality of eating. All of this makes up a foodway or traditional diet.

So to help simplify creating a traditional diet for yourself and your family, think of the diet of your grandparents. What would a typical meal look like? What did they eat in Winter or Summer? How were foods combined? Was there any particular foods that they regarded as vital for health? To help the Weston Price Foundation has provided the following points that all traditional diets have in common. You can use it as a yardstick to see if your idea of a traditional diet measures up.

What all traditional diets have in common *

* Excerpted from Nourished Magazine.

Traditional diets are better for all of us

The best and most reliable predictor of the future is the past. This is what historians mean by “history repeats itself”. Looking at diet from a historical point of view provides the most reliable way to predict the outcome of a given diet. History, within the memory of each of us can inform us of the outcome of our grandparent’s generations diet. With this in mind I choose my ancestors diet as best for me.

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The Pantry Principle – How to maintain your pantry – Part 5

Now that your pantry is building momentum it’s important to keep it rolling in the right direction. Mainly I’m thinking of problems with:

So let’s consider each problem individually.

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The Pantry Principle – How to get the ball rolling within your budget – Part 4

To get started with The Pantry Principle Project I’d suggest picking something from the list that you currently buy that is stored at room temperature. For instance, you could start with dried beans. You already buy a cup or two from the bulk bins at the food store. Try buying a couple of pounds and storing it in an airtight container. To expand on this, buy a few more containers and repeat with a different kind of bean. Next you could add rice to the mix. And a few extra cans of tomato in the cart. This should help you save some out of the weekly grocery budget. During this time cook out of your pantry. You probably already have a number of things in there that are not on your raw ingredient list, maybe not on your real food list, but your family is familiar with them. You can help get them used to the change by serving the old standbys mixed with new items made from your new pantry.

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The Pantry Principle – What you’ll need as raw ingredients for real food recipes – Part 3

Shopping to replenish a real food pantry is different and really a whole lot simpler than recipe shopping. Begin by making a list of the raw food items you will need to make the recipes you make very regularly. The idea is that it only contains the most basic ingredients … not anything that you would make and then stock as an ingredient. Guaranteed it’ll be a short one! It should resemble your Great-Grandma’s shopping list at the general store. Below I’ve got mine. I think it will cover our Mrs Dull’s “Southern Cooking” recipe experiments too. [Read more…]

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The Pantry Principle – What you’ll need to get started – Part 2

Last week we talked about how to save lots of time cooking for your family by starting and maintaining a pantry. If you haven’t ever approached shopping in this way before you’ll certainly be wondering where to start. A few things are obviously missing from your household setup, most likely.

Getting Started

Let’s say you are starting completely from scratch as I did many, many years ago. I had just a tiny apartment kitchen, a few pans scavenged from my Mom’s rejects, and some old tupperware. I had little to no extra money. My kitchen lacked pantry space, storage containers and freezer space. What to do, what to do? Start small with baby steps. Begin by adding inexpensive additions in small steps. For instance, storage containers. It’s pretty cheap to buy glass canning jars for kitchen storage. Walmart, hardware stores, and often your local grocery store has them at about $7 a case for quart jars. [Read more…]

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A Good Enough Cook

Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
G. K. Chesterton

I wasn’t always a cook. Heck, many would argue that I’m not a cook now ;-). Still I cook pretty much everyday and have for about a decade now. So am I good candidate for the next cooking reality show? Hardly. Instead I find that I have become a “Good Enough Cook”. Like my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her. [Read more…]

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