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Modern Refrigeration Book
Secret 14: Despite Educating Myself I Still Don’t Eat Properly
Over the years I have done a lot of reading about food and the results of eating the wrong kinds of foods. I have read books that tell me being fat isn’t my fault, books that tell me to eat this or that and I will be thinner and healthier, books with fad diets that propose eating one kind of food, or books with food regimens based on a region (Mediterranean, South Beach, French, etc). The worst are the diets based on silly food mythology, like there is really a difference in the kinds of foods that should be eaten by different blood types (I had this one “friend” who was a f**ing proselytizer for that damn diet and would not stop talking about it at every meal we shared- I no longer see her!). I have been called (and called myself) a food addict, a carb addict, etc., and I think I really know the proper way to eat.
After all of my reading the one eating regimen that I feel makes the most sense is the so-called “Paleo” diet (or “Caveman Diet”), based on the knowledge that we were genetically evolved to eat a very different diet than the one that most people in the developed countries eat: Here’s the theory in a nutshell, copied from an introduction by Dr. Ben Balzer: “For millions of years, humans and their relatives have eaten meat, fish, fowl and the leaves, roots and fruits of many plants. One big obstacle to getting more calories from the environment is the fact that many plants are inedible. Grains, beans and potatoes are full of energy but all are inedible in the raw state as they contain many toxins. There is no doubt about that- please don’t try to eat them raw, they can make you very sick.
“Around 10,000 years ago, an enormous breakthrough was made- a breakthrough that was to change the course of history, and our diet, forever. This breakthrough was the discovery that cooking these foods made them edible- the heat destroyed enough toxins to render them edible. Grains include wheat, corn, barley, rice, sorghum, millet and oats. Grain based foods also include products such as flour, bread, noodles and pasta. These foods entered the menu of New Stone Age (Neolithic) man, and Paleolithic diet buffs often refer to them as Neolithic foods.
“The cooking of grains, beans and potatoes had an enormous effect on our food intake- perhaps doubling the number of calories that we could obtain from the plant foods in our environment. Other advantages were soon obvious with these foods:
? they could store for long periods (refrigeration of course being unavailable in those days)
? they were dense in calories- i.e., a small weight contains a lot of calories, enabling easy transport
? the food was also the seed of the plant- later allowing ready farming of the species
“These advantages made it much easier to store and transport food. We could more easily store food for winter, and for nomads and travelers to carry supplies. Food storage also enabled surpluses to be stored, and this in turn made it possible to free some people from food gathering to become specialists in other activities, such as builders, warriors and rulers. This in turn set us on the course to modern day civilization. Despite these advantages, our genes were never developed with grains, beans and potatoes and were not in tune with them, and still are not. Man soon improved further on these advances- by farming plants and animals...The reason why grains, beans and potatoes store so well is simply because of the toxins that they contain. The enzyme blockers put them into a deep freeze, stopping them from sprouting. The lectins and other toxins are natural pesticides and can attack bacteria, insects, worms, rodents and other pests (and humans, too, of course).”
I’m not proselytizing myself here, really, I’m not (well, maybe a little), but I added all of that to explain the theory of it all, which makes a lot of sense to me.
After being on that diet (more or less) for three years and losing about 80 pounds, when my partner left me in August of 2005 I went into a tail spin, quitting what I knew in rage and depression, eating meal after meal at the 10 or so fast food joints within a quarter mile of my house, or running to 7-11 for sugary comfort foods late at night to eat in front of a TV, watching a movie alone, and essentially saying “screw you” to my nutritionist, my therapist, and my ex, all of whom had been supporting me in the strle to lose weight and get off sugar, grain and other refined carbohydrates. You know the story, it isn’t uncommon, especially for women (and gay men). Whereas others drink or take drugs to numb the pain, sugar was/is my “medicine”. I might have felt bad after a heavy dose of these bad foods, with cramps and heartburn and the growing difficulty in walking or breathing, but nothing has overcome (still) the short-term gratification of sugar, and fast food. And I am still dealing with the issue of “why bother?” because I don’t really feel I like myself enough
"During the 1700s in Britain’s North American colonies, chickens thrived everywhere. They appeared on plantations and middle-class farms, around slave quarters, in cages aboard ships at sea, and in the streets of cities and towns.
“Poultry was really, really common in the eighteenth century. If you were poor and you had any livestock, you had chickens. They were easy to raise. They reproduced in large numbers and reached sexual maturity early,” said Elaine Shirley, manager of Colonial Williamsburg’s rare breeds program.
Twenty-first-century Americans may assume that eighteenth-century chickens had the same place in the human diet as they do today, that chicken meat was cheap, plentiful, and available year round. It was not. For the most part, because of the animal’s reproductive cycle, chicken was a seasonal treat.
Hens lay eggs year round. They are, however, most productive during the spring and summer, when increased daylight signals the best time for making chicks. Hatching during warm weather lets chicks grow strong and prepare for winter’s rigors.
Modern breeders know well the impact that light has on egg output. Carefully controlled artificial illumination in modern henhouses fools the birds. It causes hens to lay hundreds of eggs throughout the year. Two hundred years ago, though, things happened according to nature’s shifts. Hens typically laid dozens of eggs annually.
Science now also has sped up the maturation process. “There’s been lots of genetic work done with chickens. So, today, they grow fast. It takes maybe six weeks from hatching to arriving at your table. In the 1700s, that trip took more like six months,” Shirley said.
There is, as well, a difference in diet. Today, carefully controlled feedings boost growth. In the 1700s, chickens ate table scraps or scavenged.
“Chickens consumed a lot of garden waste. For example, if you’d finished picking all the peas, then you pulled up the vines and fed them to the chickens. When you had a biscuit that didn’t rise properly or bread with mold, you threw it into the farmyard. Chickens love bugs and are omnivorous, so they eat meat and, sometimes, eat each other. They also love mice,” Shirley said.
Farmers and the poor let chickens roam. Referred to as “dung hill” chickens, these birds often could be found on a manure pile, pecking for insects. The rich, however, liked to keep their birds in a building, especially if they had a manicured garden.
At night, people tried to get the chickens into a safe place. Chickens are vulnerable to begin with, and poor night vision makes them easy game for predators, like weasels.
“Tending the poultry generally was a woman’s job,” Shirley said. “Many books written during the period confirm this and offer advice on raising and taking care of chickens.”
Raising chickens also was an important aspect of a slave’s life. Masters often allowed slaves to have the birds, though prohibiting them from owning other animals. Slaves not only raised chickens for their own diets but sometimes ran businesses selling birds and eggs.
The chief use of chickens was as dinner fare. Hundreds of eighteenth-century recipes sest that with this meat cooks could offer a dish to suit almost every palate. Not only were breast, thighs, and legs devoured but livers, hearts, and gizzards. Of course, eggs also were popular, whether fried, scrambled, or made into omelets.
Without refrigeration, poultry dishes tended to be fresh. A cook would select a bird early in the morning, clean it, and serve it for lunch. Diners ate leftovers during the next several meals until everything was consumed.
Gardeners used chicken manure on plants. The feathers had almost no value. Goose down was preferred for bedding. Goose and turkey feathers made much better writing instruments.
According to Shirley, many modern guests find the chickens the most captivating of all the domesticated creatures in the Historic Area."
“When people learn how many different types of chickens exist,” she said, “their reactions are similar: ‘Wow! I’ve never seen a chicken like that. I thought all chickens were white. Cool! Chickens can be pretty.’”
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