When I was a child there was a little shop in most villages, or at the very least a daily mobile shop van. Along with a milk van (although we got our milk straight from the farm opposite our house) and a butcher’s van. Oh, and a pop van that came round on a Friday night – it was the only pop we ever drank.
My Mum bought everything in our village shop, going every day or every other day for bread and perishables, and we grew much of our own fruit and veg (potatoes, onions, carrots, sprouts, berries in the winter; peas, beans, cauliflower, radishes, tomatoes, rhubarb, apples, pears, gooseberries in the summer). OK, so there wasn’t a huge amount of choice but we ate fresh, seasonal produce as nature intended.
That was less than 40 years ago, yet in that short space of time the way we produce, purchase, prepare and eat food has become almost unrecognisable. 80% of village shops are now closed and everyone buys their groceries weekly at the supermarket with the majority of food items lasting several days. Only about 30% of the food I eat is even grown in the UK, let alone in the area where I live. And while I do still grow some of my own produce and would grow more if my health allowed and I had a proper garden, I realize I’m in a dwindling minority.
The biggest shock about going low histamine is that I’ve been forced to look at labels and really think about what I’m eating. What we put in our bodies horrifies me. I don’t even know what half the ingredients are, but they’re not food. How can a chicken be 60% meat for goodness sake?! And why are vitamins and minerals being added to our bread and cereals?
One of the biggest shocks was how much yeast and vinegar is added to food. I could barely find one label that didn’t contain some version of vinegar or have added yeast. And whilst I’m sure each particular food has been safety tested, has anyone joined the dots and realized that nearly ALL our food contains these ingredients and looked at the cumulative effects on our bodies? How acidic must our stomachs be, and I’m not surprised we get yeast infections like Candida. Our solution is to then take probiotics to repair the damage, instead of just not eating all the crap that’s destroying our gut flora in the first place! My Nan managed to live to 86, with barely a days illness in her entire life, without drinking Yakult. What she did do was grow some of her own fruit and veg, right up to her seventies, and spend hours cooking and baking everything from scratch with a handful of simple ingredients (she made the best damson jam and apple pie in the known universe 😉 ).
I have a blackberry bush in my garden. I pick the fruit when it’s ripe, it lasts about 4 days in the fridge before it starts to go mushy and after a week it’s inedible. How, then, can berries be picked in Cyprus, transported on a ship to England, put onto lorries, delivered to supermarkets, stacked on shelves, bought by consumers, taken home, kept in the fridge for a few days……….and still be in perfect mint condition? I make all my own sauces, and I know if I make some Tzatziki it will last about 5 days in the fridge before I need to throw it away. How, then, can a store bought sauce have a sell by date two years into the future? And if I make a cake, by day 3 it’s as dry as a piece of cardboard yet cakes sit on supermarket shelves for months and are still as moist as the day they’re made. What on earth is being done to our food to make it last so long?
For 30 years our obesity epidemic has been blamed on saturated fat. Only now we know that saturated fat, in moderation, is fine. And now sugar is the enemy, when IMHO sugar in moderation will also turn out to be fine. All the additives, pesticides, chemicals, irradiation, genetic modification and preservatives in our food, on the other hand, are not fine and I’m much more convinced are altering our digestive processes, metabolism and health in profound ways.
I always thought I had a healthy diet. I ate organically wherever possible, didn’t drink alcohol, was pesco-vegetarian, rarely ate puddings or so-called junk food (although I loved chocolate!), never drank fizzy pop and juiced my own fruit and veg. But when I went low histamine I was staggered at all the items I could no longer buy because they contained vinegar, yeast, preservatives, additives and other forbidden ingredients. I absolutely dread to think what the average British or American diet, which is no-where near as healthy as the one I used to follow, consists of and it doesn’t shock me in any way that our children are on track to be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.
The whole food industry topic is huge and is something I’m going to come back to in future blog posts. It’s so important. Luckily here in the UK we have people like the Chef Jamie Oliver flying the flag for ‘proper’ food and home cooking (and just look at the flack he’s received over the years for simply pointing out the crap that goes into our children’s meals, including school dinners, when he should have been given a bloody medal!), but we all need to be more aware of what we’re putting in our bodies.