Revisiting My Food Roots


For every person you are able to “convince” about the value and validity of the role “real” food plays in health, there are 10 who will discount what you say—whether it’s due to stubbornness, fear, or misinformation, they just refuse to accept how real food can heal so many ills.

That is why when you have success with a person who is near and dear to your heart, it makes it that much sweeter!

This summer I visited my 81-year-old grandmother in Southern California.  This woman is the REASON I am a foodie. I am most grateful for her delicious home cooked meals, commitment to “from-scratch” cooking, and lessons in frugality. She raised six healthy kids, all of whom have beautiful teeth and bone structure, and she did it with real food on a lean single-parent budget!  She ate organic before it became a label, drank raw milk when that was the ONLY milk, ate bone broth soups all day long, served salsas that (in the Texas/Mexico heat) were probably fermented before the meal was through, and ate pastured meats because that’s what was in the backyard.

Sadly, moving to an urban California city in the 70s led to packaged, nutrient-poor foods working their way into my family’s kitchen. The 80s was also a poor time to attempt the virtues of a traditional diet filled with “dangerous” egg yolks, lard, real butter, and (gasp!) organ meats. This was a time when vegetable oil, margarine, and all things low-fat were what the doctors recommended in the name of “heart health.”

My grandmother is a stroke survivor, has high blood pressure, and suffers from bouts of depression. While I’m new to the traditional food movement, what I’ve researched on the subject of health and nutrition, these are classic symptoms of depleted nutrient stores. At 81, I can no longer afford to be diplomatic. Her presence is much more important than her pride. Being one of the youngest members in my family, I was apprehensive about bringing up nutrition and real food. Throw into the mix that I’m having to discuss this in Spanish (how the heck do you say arterial calcification again??) and I was VERY nervous about getting my point across…

So what happened?

My grandmother listened. She REALLY listened. And she ACCEPTED it. Canola oil? Thrown away! I bought her unrefined organic coconut oil. Iodized table salt? Replaced with Himalayan salt. Refined table sugar? Coconut palm sugar, baby! (Next time I’ll up the ante with rapadura. And guess who’s getting some pastured liver and kidneys in my next meat order (sorry veggie friends, she grew up on a ranch–this is food HER body thanks her for)? She absolutely LIT up when I brought up the health benefits of pastured organ meat!

So why did this woman (a brilliant, wonderful, but STUBBORN woman) listen to her little granddaughter? Because I was echoing her own mom!!! Learning begins at the womb, continues at the knee, and is cemented at the kitchen table with delicious food and loved ones.

Oldest and youngest in the family!

Oldest and youngest in the family!

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