“The cure for what ails us both in our bodies and in our nation can be found in the kitchen. It is a place to rebuild community and connection, strengthen bonds with family and friends, teach life-giving skills to our children, enrich and nourish our bodies and our souls. Yet, in the twenty-first century, our kitchens (and our taste buds) have been hijacked by the food industry. In 1900 only 2 percent of meals were eaten outside of the home; today that number is over 50 percent.”
That quote comes from a brand new book, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook, by Mark Hyman, MD. Dr. Hyman is a family physician, a four time New York Times bestselling author, and is a recognized leader in the field of Functional Medicine: a way to empower people to stop managing symptoms and instead treat the underlying causes of illness. He is responsible for coining the phrase “diabesity,” to describe an American population beset by weight gain, diabetes or pre-diabetes.
The right diet is not the same for everyone; for instance, I feel best when I follow a sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free diet, as espoused by Dr. Hyman in his new cookbook. Although the regimen you follow may differ, what is clear is that we must give up on dependence on fat, sugar and salt pumped into factory-made foods. Dr. Hyman encourages us to take back our kitchens, and our food, and start cooking real meals, made from real ingredients. His cookbook, just released, offers wonderful recipes to help us do just that.
He tells us: “We are brainwashed into thinking that cooking real food costs too much, is too hard, and takes too long. Hence, we rely on inexpensive convenience foods. But these aren’t so convenient when we become dependent on hundreds of dollars of medication a month, when we can’t work because we are sick and fat and sluggish, or when we feel so bad we can’t enjoy life anymore.”
Preparing a meal from scratch, by contrast, can be a chance to reconnect with our spouse, children or aged parents. Sharing that meal can be a ceremony, a ritual, a mindful observance of what matters most in the midst of a hectic life. That is what a kitchen is designed for, and is its ultimate and most meaningful purpose.
Another book I have found useful on my way to more healthful eating is Forks Over Knives, edited by Gene Stone, which proposes that most, if not all, degenerative diseases can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health is a book, a cookbook, and a film available on DVD or Blu-ray. You can learn more from the website and blog found at www.forksoverknives.com.
There are other books, other cookbooks and other ways to preserve health, but there has been an overwhelming concensus from the nutrition and diet industry that fruits and vegetables are woefully lacking in our diets, and that increasing the amount we eat is the optimal path back to health. Choosing organically-grown foods makes sense, as does eating animal protein as a condiment, not an entree, if you choose to retain meat in your diet.
An excellent source of organically-grown vegetables, if you live on Nantucket, is Pumpkin Pond Farm. This 9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road owned by Marty McGowan is Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens.
My passion is helping my clients create beautiful and healthy homes, so I am often called upon to design extraordinary kitchens. This is the place where nutritious, organic meals are prepared and enjoyed by family and friends, and so it is, truly, the very heart of the home.
As Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma said, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” That’s good advice. I intend to follow it. I hope you do, too.