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Eating During the Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Debra Redalia

 

First Post

 

I wanted to start this blog in October 2017 when I moved to Sonoma County, California and the way I started eating radically changed. I have many unpublished posts I’ve written, but life intervened in various ways.

About a month ago I was finally ready and then the Covid-19 shut-downs began.

And now I see the real need for this blog.

If your food situation is anything like mine you’ve had major disruptions in the way you eat. Here all our restaurants are closed, and even those who advertise take-out are not answering their phones. Last week it was Larry’s birthday. Usually, we go out to lunch on our birthdays, but we couldn’t even get take-out beyond a deli sandwich from a supermarket.

The week shelter-in-place started I couldn’t buy the particular organic brown rice that we prefer, and it hasn’t been on the shelf since. Other organic brown rices which we were buying for $2.50 a pound is now $10 a pound!

And last Sunday when we walked in to our local supermarket to buy organic rainbow carrots, half of the produce section was empty.

A major meat production plant was closed down this week with 800 cases of covid-19. And farmers are now being told to stop farming.

I’m not panicking because I know what to do.

The End of Industrial Food and the Rise of Wholefood Cuisine

This is actually my third food blog. About fifteen years ago I published a food blog called Sweet Savvy, in which I explored all the natural sweeteners that were coming on the market, but nobody knew how to use. There was nothing different about the food philosophy, I just took regular recipes and worked out how to substitute refined white sugar with honey, agave, stevia, and other natural sweeteners.

Then I did a food blog called Toxic-Free Kitchen, with the idea that all the food and cookware needed to be toxic-free.

But then in June 2015, my left eye suddenly went blind. I had been diagnosed diabetic since 2000, and had been unable to control my blood sugar, though I had done everything doctors had told me to do. I had been on the standard low carb paleo diet for years and my blood sugar was going up and up. I was forced to go on insulin. Even all the natural remedies didn’t work.

And then my left eye went blind. Blood vessels had burst and the retina had detached. Though I had a year of treatment, including three surgeries and many laser treatments, I lost my left eye. It is now permanently blind.

When I announced this in my newsletter, one of my readers, a retired ophthalmologist, wrote to me and said, “You must try this diet. It will save your life.’

But all he sent me was a journal article that had no instructions. I then had to go research this diet and piece together the information from obsolete sources. But from the very first day my blood sugar started going down and my body began to lose weight, something that wasn’t happening on the paleo diet.

It was a specific version of a high carbohydrate diet. But a strange one. I thought I would update it, so I went to my natural food store and bought a whole cart full of food products made from whole grains and whole beans. Things like brown rice crackers and black bean pasta. But every one of them I tried made both my blood sugar and weight go UP. What was going on?

Since eating brown rice in its whole grain form made my blood sugar and weight go DOWN, but eating brown rice crackers, tortillas and pasta made my blood sugar and weight go UP, there had to be some change happening in the processing of the food. It was then that I noticed that all these products were made from the whole grains ground into flour. For the first time I saw that there is a major difference in the way processed food acts in our bodies, simply from the processing.

Here we now have stores filled with organic food products that seem to be good for us because they are made from organic ingredients and don’t have additives, but most of them are made from processed ingredients.

When I discovered this, I immediately started eating only foods in their whole, unprocessed natural state. I prepared all my meals from scratch using whole organic ingredients. And in thirty days my blood sugar went down 100 points and my body lost twenty pounds.

Since then various life interruptions made it difficult to stay on this diet 100 percent. However, I found that every time I went off the diet, my blood sugar and body weight went up and every time I went back on it my blood sugar and body weight went down. Larry had the same results.

From this experience I developed the idea of “wholefood cuisine”—the creation of a cuisine made up of only whole foods. I love to eat. It just doesn’t satisfy me to eat an apple and a bowl of plain brown rice for lunch. The food needed to please my joy of eating as well.

I had this whole plan of what food needed to evolve into—a shift from processed industrial food to organic whole food—and then our world changed. Overnight, covid-19 ripped our food routine out from under us.

While this may seem like a crisis, I see it as an opportunity. I no longer need to convince you to give up industrial food. The industrial food system is falling apart on its own.

The New Way to Eat, Now and in the Future

For the past 100 years or so, there has been a steady increase of separation between the growing and preparation of food and the eater. What started out as canning food for preservation became cake mixes and lunch meat and TV dinners. Now many people don’t learn to cook at all, but instead simply eat take-out food where they have no control whatsoever over what they put in their bodies, or knowledge of what it has been made from. It has even been suggested that it is not “economical” for people to prepare their own food because they can make more money working long hours and have someone else do the cooking.

But now, the covid-19 pandemic is forcing us to restructure how we eat. To me, this is a blessing, albeit, perhaps, in disguise.

Our bodies are not designed to eat processed industrial food. We humans are a species of the Earth, which has been largely forgotten in our industrial world. Our bodies are designed to walk through our local ecosystems, find the foods that grow there, and prepare them into tasty nourishment. That is the healthiest way to eat.

And that can be done today. Larry and I have been eating this way for more than two years now and we are happy with the food and getting healthier every day.

To eat this way requires some knowledge and skill but it can be learned.

Now it’s not an option to learn it, it’s imperative if we are to eat at all.

What we need to learn now is;

  • Where to source organically-grown whole foods
  • How to clean and store them
  • How to prepare them into dishes we want to eat
  • How to plan a continuous supply of food that is available each day
  • How to make time to cook (and how to prepare foods in a way that doesn’t take a lot of time)

All of this is known. It doesn’t have to be figured out. It just needs to be learned and practiced.

We can feed ourselves. We have been feeding ourselves since the beginning of our species. Until two hundred years ago, all families prepared their own food.

We can do this too.

At the moment, it looks like we have to do this if we are going to eat at all.