People are beginning to take stock of what food choices really mean for health — planetary as well as human health. This planet we share can support an immense variety of foods that shift from season to season.
Yet in our diets it’s not difficult to fall into a rut of eating similar things, day after day. Collectively, we’re eating vast quantities of commodities that have been mass-produced through chemically-intensive agriculture.
This modern method of growing plants was developed to feed a rapidly-expanding world population, and on that count it has been fairly successful. Mass agriculture is designed to produce many tons of grains — and of the meat that originates in animals fed on those same grains.
Commodities like these are transported and traded all over the planet, and eaten each day by billions of people. It’s great to feed the world, yet people and planet alike fare better when our diets have a more diverse food base that reflects the seasonal changes in our surroundings and allows the land to regenerate its native fertility between growing periods.
A better food future
For this reason, attention is turning more towards heirloom varieties of familiar foods and of re-emerging ancient crops. Most of us realize that we should be eating more veggies and fruit, but seeds, legumes, and nuts are also missing from many diets.
Enjoying more foods like these benefits human bodies by giving them more of the plant nutrients that stimulate health at all levels — from cell and organ health all the way through better heart and brain function. Along with higher levels of essential nutrients and unique plant nutrients, these ancient foods treat us to healthy fats, fiber, and lower-impact carbs that sustain feelings of energy and vitality.
This takes us back to grains. In their whole state and consumed in moderation, grains don’t have to be a bad guy. It’s just that the most common food forms of grains in many diets tend to be the ultra-processed kind that have lost most of their ability to truly nourish human bodies. What they do retain after processing is what many people tend to get too much of — calories and highly-refined carbs.
Commodity grains are used for creating starches and sugars that make processed foods “hyper-palatable” compared to natural, whole foods. Refined grains are found in snacks, crackers, sweets, chips, and bread, as well as in hidden ingredients like sweeteners and thickeners. It’s not difficult at all to eat grains from sunup to sundown in these forms, yet we’ve also learned (the hard way!) that eating lots of simple carbs like these can contribute to serious health problems like heart disease, dementia, and diabetes.
Don’t forget seeds
Emphasizing commodity grain-free foods is a vote for recapturing better balance in our diets. It’s a vote for our own health, but also for planetary health, because mass agricultural practices aren’t typically developed with sustainable soil health in mind.
Grain-free is, additionally, a means of excluding foods that contain gluten. Increasing numbers of individuals are discovering that gluten from grains negatively impacts their mental or physical performance, and grain-free eating frees them from the effect of gluten and of its closest chemical relatives.
Seeds are an ancient and trustworthy alternative for healthier eating. Seeds present an incredible array of culinary choices, from sesame and pumpkin seeds to versatile plants like buckwheat, quinoa, and amaranth. While grains generally come from a single plant family (called the Poaceae), these seeds come from diverse plant families, each having their own unique palettes of flavor and nutrition.
Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat for the win
Buckwheat happens to be a superlative example, especially the ancient Asian version called Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat. If you’ve never enjoyed buckwheat crêpes, pancakes, or bread, Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat is a perfect opportunity to experience how well this tasty seed satisfies appetite and sustains energy.
How does Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat accomplish this? It is particularly generous when it comes to dietary fiber and the complex carbs that give up more of their calorie energy to humans’ friendly gut flora (which we need for good immune function) than to humans.
Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat also lavishes us with minerals, B vitamins, and valuable phytonutrients like quercetin and Hobamine that enable our cells to do a better job of housekeeping, healing, and renewal. It’s also a hardy mountainous version of buckwheat (an admirably robust plant!), and its cultivation can actually help regenerate soil that’s been depleted by adverse conditions of weather or agricultural usage.
Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat — all-around goodness for humans and planet alike!