Macro Monday: The Superfoods Trap
For the past while, it seems that there is a new superfood that makes appearances in the stores and in internet-land each and every week. We've been through goji berries, to acai berries, to spirulina, lucuma powder, coconut oil, chlorella, maca etc. Whatever ~~~berry has "just been discovered." And you just "must try it."
Now, before you put your guard up - I'm not trying to knock healthy foods. And not the ones I mentioned above, either (some of them are dang delicious and wonderful, and things I do use from time to time). If you know me, you'll know that I'm all about healthy eating. But I do feel there is a giant "superfood" trap out there that we need to be aware of. And I also think we should be calling many more foods "superfoods" -> because any foods that are truly health supporting, in my mind, are indeed SUPER.
But I think it's a shame that a lot of our focus has shifted away from fresh, whole food, and moved towards these so-called "superfood" powders, extracts, tonics and elixirs. We've really adopted the faster and more is better mentality with these foods. The real superfoods, in my mind, are the ones that you might mix in with those powders: a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole-grains and healthy fats.
Straight up local and organic veggies in their whole form are truly SUPER in all ways. They probably don't come in a fancy package, they aren't advertised (usually), and they generally don't run at $15 - $100 per item. In other words, these kinds of foods probably seem boring, dirty (literally, covered in dirt sometimes), and not so miraculous in comparison to their shiny new "superfood" friends.
But I want to tell you something, friends, and I'm speaking from my heart and my experience. Whenever I have been tempted and lured into purchasing these amazingly packaged powders, tonics & superfoods, I usually regret it later on. Not because they don't have some healthful properties, or they taste bad (they can often taste delicious). But because nothing alone, no one single powder, ethically sourced and straight from the jungle healer's hands, is the key to health. And when you invest your hard-earned dollars on something that is advertised as being so essential and so amazing, it's likely that you will begin to believe it (hi cognitive dissonance), and you might then, feel that you MUST have these things to be healthy, feel stressed if you can't afford them, and you may begin to overlook the regular boring FOOD that has sustained humans, healthily, for a long long time.
Something new & exciting that has the price tag to match it's "amazing healing properties" is, in the long run, probably not so sustainable - for your bank account, but also for our beautiful Earth. So many of these miracle foods that become "superfoods" have a high ecological toll because the demand for them skyrockets out of the blue. Those foods, I'm sure, have likely earned at least some of their SUPER status - but maybe we should consider the small communities that have been eating them traditionally for thousands of years and often rely on these foods, and perhaps adjust our over-consumption, slow it down a little, so that we can give our Earth time to adjust for the increased demand.
For myself, when I forget about this and that superfood, and focus on eating local and organic food in its whole form, I feel SUPER. I feel healthy. Eating more vegetables + whole grains always make me feel good. These are also foods that we have been eating as humans, for a long time, and they are also the foods that natural healing systems such as Macrobiotics and Ayurveda promote. We've been growing these kinds of foods all around the world for a long time, and we for the most part, seem to have the hang of it. Another bonus when I eat this way: my bank account loves me for it. I never regret buying vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains - when I fill my cart with these things, I never cringe at the grocery bill. If my eyebrows ever raise at the checkout, it is always because I've on a whim thrown in something in a pretty package that most likely includes the word SUPER on it.
Of course, if your budget allows, and health is your passion, then play away, responsibly! I'm not trying to halt you on your quest for health, or discourage you for trying things out for yourself. Experiment with some of these new things if you so desire. I am certain that I will end up trying at least a few more - it seems really hard not to. And they will either be a repeat buy because they truly add something to my life (this doesn't happen so often), or end up in my "superfood" graveyard - the pile of random bulk baggies and jars of interesting things at the back of my cupboard. But here's what I've been trying to do: when I see something new and fancy and SUPERbly exciting, I won't buy it the first few times I see it. I'll read the labels, do some research, and avoid buying it for as long as possible, until I feel like I actually have a good reason to use it, and that is is indeed something that will enhance my everyday cooking and eating. I also try to look for the original, whole form of these superfoods, rather than the fancy powders, tonics and concentrated elixirs. For example, actual goji berries and cacao nibs in their "whole" form > goji berry cacao superfood smoothie powder mix, in my mind.
I guess, all I'm asking is that you don't forget the old-school once famous stars of the show: carrots, broccoli, oats and other grains, a variety of greens, traditional herbal teas, nuts & seeds, pumpkins and other veggies, apples, berries, etc. These guys are easy to find, have been considered healthy for a LONG time across all countries, and they won't cost you an arm and a leg.
Thoughts, dear friends? If you have tried a lot of superfoods, which ones have been worth it and are now something you use regularly?