To start, let me say that this post is simply an explanation of why I've made the choices I have. Everyone makes decisions about their diet and nutrition based on what's best for them and their families. I respect whatever your choice may be. I've been asked about mine, so here's the explanation. To get to this point, I've read works by various food scientists and food historians (if you haven't read Michael Pollan, I highly recommend him). I've watched and read about the adventures of Andrew Zimmern, Adam Richman and Anthony Bourdain. I've got a Master's Degree in environmental science. I've used all of that information, along with my heart and instincts to come up with the system that works for me.
Since I've begun this project, I've had lots of people ask me what diet I'm following-Weston A. Price, GAPs, gluten-free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian...The list goes on and on. And the answer is none of the above. I'm using the great-grandma test. Would my great-grandmother, who was born in the 19th century and grew up in the rural Ozarks (and lived to be very nearly 100), recognize it as food or an edible ingredient? If the answer is yes, it's on my "diet". I recognize that what we eat is vitally important to our health and well-being, but most people only think about their physical well-being when they think about food. Food is just as important to your emotional and mental health. It's also important for cultural health. When civilizations lose their food culture, they lose themselves. That's when mental and physical disease starts creeping in. It's all related. In addition, any of those above diets can be unhealthy to body, soul and environment if they are done incorrectly. Plenty of vegetarians and vegans eat a lot of processed, conventionally produced food. That's no better for them or the environment than eating the same diet with conventionally raised meat added to it. I also see recipes for things like "paleo almond joy". The point of a paleo diet is that you're eating similarly to the earliest humans ("cavemen"). I'm pretty sure that there was never anything remotely like an almond joy in their diet.
In addition, many people use their adherence to a diet as a reason why they can't eat out, travel, or visit friends at meal time. I don't think any diet is so important (unless it's for a real medical reason-celiac disease, for example) that it should come between people and their interactions. So many people complain that we are becoming an increasingly isolated society, why add to that unnecessarily. Eating the traditional foods of another culture is one of the fastest ways to learn about them. Eating at a local diner is the best way to learn about a town. Sharing a meal with friends and family is the fastest way to create memories and intimacy.
So, I eat real, unprocessed food that I prepare in my kitchen. Sometimes, I eat food that I wouldn't normally because it was prepared with love by someone I care about. Sometimes, I eat at a restaurant I wouldn't normally choose because the people I'm with are more important to me than some "rule" about what I'm going to eat. And, when I go on vacation, I always, always, always go find the local places that prepare food that has been made and eaten in that region for generations.
For me, eating is not about a sterile, boring chore that has to be gotten through. For me, eating is about the bonds I've formed, the places I've been and the people I love.