What Is Healthy Eating?
I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor. I’m a cook who works in a specific environment – the galley of our boat, MV Poseidon. Living and cooking on a boat forces us to think about sustainability, the health of the oceans and, by extension, our own health.
When we eat a fish that’s gone direct from rod to grill, we learn something profound about taste and ‘fresh’ takes on a whole new meaning. The fish we catch have had to fight to survive. They swim, they jump, they dive. They don’t simply lurk on the surface waiting for the fish farmer to throw them a scientifically concocted food that looks and smells about as natural as kibble.
Wild fish have muscle, texture – and, above all, taste.
It’s taste that drives us to farmers’ markets and to buying locally whenever we can. The sellers are usually deeply interested and invested in their produce. Alongside the purchasing, there’s an exchange of information and a human connection that’s informative and fun. It’s a more ‘natural’ procedure than buying from a large organization that does not have the same personal touch and has an altogether larger and heavier footprint.
So, driven first and foremost by taste and freshness, we find ourselves eating more naturally. Eating more naturally, we eat more healthily, by default. Quickly, it becomes difficult to contemplate processed or industrial foods.
Natural is more expensive and we understand how lucky we are to be able to make these choices but at the risk of annoying a lot of people I wonder what the real cost, the health costs and other implications are of eating food that’s raised or preserved with a whole range of chemicals more appropriate to a science lab than a digestive system.
Intuitively, most people know that eating chemicals is bad for them and there’s so much food anxiety out there that an awful lot of people are spending an awful lot of money to persuade us to worship this or that food religion, and follow this or that diet book, but this week’s food fad is next week’s anathema. One day low fat is the Holy Grail, the next day it’s the cause of arthritis and degenerating joints. At twelve o’ clock, it’s all aboard the carbohydrate train but by early evening high protein is the way to go.
And don’t even mention salt, which, for some, has become a culinary terrorist. Why? What kind of salt are they talking about? Obviously, if your diet largely comprises processed, fast- and junk foods, you’re already awash in monumental amounts salts which have been boiled, bleached, and bemused. You’re taking in more chemicals than a third world fertilizer factory and if you now add a good pinch of the regular stuff to your cooking or your plate you’re simply supporting your doctor’s 401K. But if you’re eating clean and healthy, you actually need salt. There is a huge amount of disinterested data out there, which confirms that natural, unprocessed salt benefits you. It’s too much information to summarize here so I’ll come back to it later – but don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself.
I think health is a holistic thing that involves balance, moderation and peace of mind. Sure, if you eat a lot of sodium and ‘bad fat’ saturated processed foods, you’re going to meet your EMS neighbors sooner than you’d like. But, equally, if you’re obsessed with the details of your food intake, the balance of your life suffers and perhaps that occasional fast food breakfast sausage product is as good for your state of mind as it may be bad for your gut.
On Poseidon, our motto is ‘Simply for the love it.’ For us, food is all about sheer taste, sheer fun. That drives us to fresh and natural which by all accounts is healthier for us and the planet.