Once upon a time in a suburb not so far away, lived two young boys with their loving parents. All year long the boys patiently waited for June to roll around because that meant school was out, and hours of enjoying the warm summer sun and playing with friends could begin.
Every morning, the boys would awake from a restful night and saunter downstairs, wiping the sleep from their eyes. Sometimes they would find their dad sitting at the kitchen table finishing up his morning routine of sipping coffee or working outside, tending to the family tomato plants. He worked a 40-hour week, heading to his job around 9:00 am.
On some mornings, Dad would make breakfast for the family. He would often make his favorite—buckwheat pancakes—carefully preparing the freshly ground flour into batter the night before.
“You’ve gotta let it sit overnight so the pancake fairies can do their work,” Dad would say. “It ain’t delicious unless the pancake fairies get a chance to stir the batter.”
They boys knew it wasn’t really fairies that made the batter so delicious and healthy. It was actually something called fermenting and soaking in order to break down the phytic acid, a coating around grains that makes it difficult for the body to digest. The bacteria in the fermentation process were the real fairies. You had to let it sit overnight to ‘make it get the vitamins,’ as Dad would put it.
The boys didn’t really care about the details, they just knew they were delicious and gave them plenty of energy for a day full of play.
The boys and their parents always ate breakfast together, and because Dad forgot to make pancake batter the night before, Mom was making breakfast today. It was steel cut oatmeal with fresh ripe sweet cherries that Old Man Roberts, the neighbor across the street, brought over. His cherries were ripening and he was happy to share them, knowing full well that the boys’ dad would be returning the favor later with juicy ripe tomatoes a bit later in the growing season.
The boys greedily gobbled up the oatmeal and cherries. Mom also fried up some bacon, which she bought from the local butcher down the road. His bacon was the best—uncured and delicious.
Many times the family would have eggs for breakfast, but they just ran out yesterday and one of Dad’s after-work duties was to pick up a couple dozen from a nearby farm on the way home.
The boys loved visiting this farm. It was like a petting zoo for them. They would pet the pigs and the farmer would show them where the cows grazed. They also enjoyed watching the goats and chickens prance around their pastures. The family purchased all their eggs and milk from this farm. Once a week, the farmer would make deliveries to their neighborhood—bringing the organic eggs from pasture-raised chickens and unpasteurized, whole milk with the creamy fat on top, from happy, grass-fed cows.
After breakfast, the boys ran outside to play.
Mom yelled after them, “You know the rules, stay within the boundaries we set, and lunch is at noon. Love you!”
They ran, jumped, played cops and robbers, marbles, basketball, went hiking and fishing… Summer was the best!
By lunchtime, the boys would be famished and would make their way back to the house.
“Wash your hands,” mom told them, “and there’s a bowl of cherries before we eat.” Mom always served ‘dessert’ first, the boys would brag to their friends. Mom would smile whenever she overheard this. She innately knew, however, that eating fresh fruits 20 minutes before dinner was a good way to get enzymes and the digestive juices flowing.
Lunch was served, liverwurst on fresh baked sourdough bread that Mom baked. Just like the pancakes that Dad makes, she soaked and fermented the dough overnight to release the nutrients in the flour. The kids had cucumbers and radishes from the garden and mineral water to drink with a lemon wedge.
The kids thanked mom, and ran out to play some more.
At suppertime, Dad brought home a pound of ground grass-fed beef from the butcher shop, along with the two dozen fresh free-range eggs. He BBQ’d up some burgers, served with sautéed swiss chard and kale from the garden.
For dessert they had yoghurt made with the farmer’s milk, with honey from a neighbor a block over who kept hives.
The kids went to bed, exhausted from playing all day, well fed, and happy.
Sound like a distant fairy tale, or like an episode from an old black-and-white TV show? Sadly, in America today, this story does sound like a time of years passed.
The point of this story is not to invoke some sort of idyllic image of ‘the way things should be,’ but to point out the details in the food this family ate.
The boys’ parents aren’t harried, rushing off to work, grabbing sugary, processed meals out of convienience. They took time to properly prepare real, whole foods they either grew themselves or purchased locally from neighbors or local farmers.
The family ate together. No one was staring at their phones or running off to play video games. The parents instilled a subconscious message to the boys—to appreciate their food and time spent with their family. The health implications of this run deep. They were sending the message of a ‘normal’ life of health, stability, strength and unconditional love—the ultimate state of being for whole body health.
This is important, for digestion and the digestive juices can’t function properly when you’re stressed or hurried.
They took time to prepare ‘normal’ meals of fresh baked bread with fermented dough, tending to the garden and harvesting fresh vegetables and fruits or whatever they happened to grow. Their connection with their environment improved their health in many, nearly unexplainable ways.
Last, but not least, the cost of their food, since they revolved their whole life around it, was in line with their household income, highly affordable and nutrient-dense.
A diet like this does not need to be a nostalgic fairy tale. It can be done today, with a conscious shift back toward valuing wholesome food.