Counting calories, it’s the basis for so many diets. If we cut calories, surely we’ll lose weight. Nutrition guidelines are based on how many calories we should eat per day. We focus so much on calories that we forget that there’s more to food than just calories.
The price of basic food items has risen only 3-5x in the last 60 years. However, the price of processed food has increased 10-15x. A small bag of potato chips costs you over $8.00 a pound. Meanwhile, potatoes run about $1-$2 a pound. A 20oz soda also costs about $8.00 a gallon. Suddenly, raw milk at $7.00 a gallon doesn’t sound so bad.
The calories per serving in modern processed food has gone up as well. But simply measuring how many calories a meal contains is not a good way to gauge how healthy it is. That’s like buying a car based only on how many horsepower it has. Is 350 horsepower enough? How about 600? At some point it becomes ridiculous when all you need is to get the kids to soccer practice.
Mythbusters did an episode on the myth that “There’s as much nutrients in the cardboard box cereal comes in than the cereal itself.” How did they test this? By counting calories. Not vitamins. Not minerals. Only calories. I’ll agree that there’s probably more nutrients in the cereal than the box. As long as you’re okay with synthetic vitamins.
There’s More to Healthy Food than Calories
Processed food contains more calories per dollar than ever before. Yet it makes us fatter than ever before. Is that healthy? Calories are cheaper now than they have ever been in history. These cheap calories are empty calories. This emptiness stems from the raw materials used to make them.
When you grow crops in soil that is deficient in nutrients, those crops are going to be deficient in nutrients. Chemical fertilizer contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. What they don’t contain is the hundreds or thousands of trace minerals and nutrients present in healthy living soil. Healthy soil contains millions of microorganisms that take organic material, rock, and other minerals and transform them into nutrients that a plant can use to grow. These are the same microorganisms that make compost work.
Eating nutrient free food is like building a house using rotted wood. You may have gotten a good deal on it. But it’ll cost you later.
Every time your child eats, their body uses that food as building material. Is that building material quality? Or is it the cheap rotted wood that cost half as much? Look at the pizza rolls in your freezer or the sugary cereal in your pantry. Do you seriously believe that this food is healthy? Are you confident that it is providing quality building materials for you child’s growing body? Are you satisfied with the synthetic vitamins listed on the nutritional guidelines label?
Build Your Body with Quality Materials
Local pasture raised meat and eggs are an excellent example of nutrient dense food. Grass finished beef has up to six times the Omega 3 fatty acids as feedlot beef. Grass finished beef has over four times the Vitamin E as feedlot beef. The list goes on and on. But it boils down to one thing. You get more nutrients for your money with local pasture raised food.
I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial for Total cereal. You’d have to eat six bowls of one cereal or ten bowls of another cereal to get the same amount of vitamins as one bowl of Total. The same goes for pasture raised meats and compost grown vegetables. Properly raised local food is two or three times as nutrient dense as their supermarket counterparts. But that’s okay, you can just eat more, right? It’s cheap.
Overeating has become an epidemic. Eating disorders are now considered a mental disorder. It’s true than many people overeat or undereat due to negative feelings and thought patterns. But not everyone overeats due to an eating disorder. Sometimes we eat too much because we’re just plain hungry. Too hungry.
When you eat food lacking in nutrients, your body continues to crave more in the hopes that eventually you’ll eat enough food to satisfy the minimum amount of nutrients. If your body needs more calcium, you might crave ice cream or chocolate. If you need more salt, you’ll crave potato chips or some other salty food.
I think we can all agree that potato chips are not healthy. Sure they have more calories than raw potatoes. But most of those calories comes from the refined vegetable oil the chips are cooked in, not the potatoes. If theses oils are partially hydrogenated, they contain trans fat. Consumption of trans fats is associated with increased rates of cancer. Trans fats can also interfere with insulin receptors, thus triggering Type II diabetes. So much for merely being an empty calorie.
“But my chips are trans fat free.” That may be true, but in order to do that, industry had to replace partially hydrogenated oil with regular vegetable oil. When heated to frying temperature, the linoleic acid in vegetable oil breaks down into toxic substances such as hydroxynonenals. These include aldehydes, which interfere with DNA. Fnd formaldehyde, you know, the stuff morticians use to embalm dead people.[2, 3] It’s very toxic. That’s why they only use it on dead people
Sugar is another favorite food to crave. Sugar is highly addictive. Why is that? Because, for thousands of years, when a human encountered a fruit or berry with fructose in it, that meant that the food was healthy. Berries and fruit that taste bitter are poisonous, sweet ones are not. Fructose in small amounts is healthy. Unfortunately, most Americans eat way more fructose than what’s healthy.
In the 1900s, the average person consumed about 15 grams of fructose a day. Today, people are consuming as much as 150 grams of fructose every day. Usually in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Altogether, the average person is consuming 22 teaspoons of sweeteners every day. These sugars are even more likely to make you fat than, well, fat. Tootsie Rolls may be 100% fat free, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get fat if you eat a bag a day.
Eating nutrient dense food from local farms will leave you more satisfied. You may find yourself eating smaller portions or eating less often. This is because your body has received the nutrients it needs. All while consuming less calories. That’s the beauty of nutrient dense food. There’s more nutrients per calorie.
- The Big Fat Surprise, Nina Teicholz, 2014
- 1.85oz bag for $1.00 = $8.64 for 16oz
- 20oz bottle for 1.29 = $8.25 for 128oz