• Erin R. Liggett

Would we need to "diet" if we were eating real food?

Nowadays, there always seems to be so much confusion about the best "diet" to adopt.

Visualize for a moment, back when there were no cars, no formal cooking methods and animals roamed freely. How do you imagine people nourished themselves? Of course, a person’s diet back in those days was mostly dictated by whatever food sources were living or growing nearby. Certainly, life was more labor-intensive back then having to forage for wild edibles, come up with creative ways to prepare meals and ration food for the community, but people likely ate a good variety of plants and possibly fish and other animals depending on where in the world they lived. Surprisingly, David Kowalewski (2015), author of “Why Save Wilderness? – Fruits and Veggies!,” points out that there are more than 10,000 wild edible plants growing around the world that survive year after year without human intervention, but that number could be as high as 120,000!

Sadly, most people today do not recognize many of these wild plants for the highly nutritious foods they are, rather they are discredited as weeds. The variety of plant foods our ancient ancestors likely consumed have dwindled down to a select few when thinking about most modern diets. Nowadays, our focus on calories (quantity) over nutrients (quality) seems to have pushed us toward animal protein and ultra-processed junk foods.

Not only do we raise animals in captivity such as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but we have chosen to selectively hybridize and to a somewhat lesser degree genetically modify plants which are isolated within large monocultures. Naturally, these select few crops and their by-products, including but not limited to wheat, corn, soy, canola and sugar end up in a majority of our processed food products. Consequently, our grocery store shelves are fully stocked with a variety of packaged "goods", yet some might say the pickings are slim.

While the efficiency of some of these operations have freed up time and allowed us to advance in other ways as a civilization, the side effects of our modern-day food system seem to be mounting. As a nation, we seem to be trading our health for convenience while big agricultural operations and corporations take all the profits. Americans are plagued by chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, a variety of cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, etc. and many researchers are now concluding that our standard American diet (SAD) and lifestyle factors have a much larger role to play in our health outcomes than our genes.

Do you realize what this means? If eating and lifestyle habits typically have a greater impact on health than our DNA, why wouldn’t we use our power and do what we can? Sure, we all have our reasons why we continue our bad habits or fail to incorporate good ones. Either we’re too tired, too busy or perhaps it’s difficult to know where to begin with all the conflicting nutrition information spiraling around…

I get it! One minute you hear a ketogenic diet is the way to go and the next someone is promoting a plant-based diet. Of course, there are studies backing up both claims which doesn’t help, rather it just leads to more confusion. It seems that we’ve altered our natural world so much and thrown it so far off balance that we tend to cling to one diet plan or another to try and reconcile.

Nowadays, the challenge seems to be in finding real food! Food that isn’t overly processed, or hasn’t been heavily sprayed with synthetic chemicals which leave residues that are unable to be washed off, or meat that isn’t contaminated with pathogenic bacteria due to the horrific conditions the animals were raised and slaughtered in.

It’s no wonder our society is faced with high levels of chronic illness when we consider these myriad factors, yet many of us bounce back and forth on unsustainable yo-yo diet plans and argue why one fad diet is better or worse than another when we should be fighting for the integrity of our food supply in order to take back the health of our nation.

What thoughts do you have about our modern-day food system? Do you believe the quality of your food matters? One way to find out is to commit to a sustainable eating plan for a period of time and see how you feel. A good way to start is by supporting your small, local farms, especially those using organic and/or biodynamic growing practices.

*This blog is for entertainment and education purposes only. The content included is my opinion and is not intended to diagnose, prevent, treat, or cure disease.

Kowalewski, D. (2015). Why save wilderness? – fruits and veggies! Australian Journal of

Outdoor Education. 18(1), 50-54. Retrieved from


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