When I first became interested in health, I made changes like switching to skim milk and cutting out all meat. My dad would often ask me, if animal products are so harmful, how did your great-grandparents live well into their 90's on their farm eating butter, raw milk and meat?
With time, and through my holistic nutrition education, I realized dad (and grandma and great-grandma) were right. So many of the health "truths" I learned were things my grandma was already doing.
This is a great general rule of thumb... when you wonder if something is healthy, ask: would my grandma (or great-grandma) have eaten this? Or had access to this?
Here are 7 trendy foodie things that my grandma was doing before they were cool (and most likely yours was too):
1. Bone broth
There are so many nutrients and amino acids found in bone broth, and the collagen has healing compounds to restore the gut and reduce inflammation. My grandma always cooked whole chickens and nothing went to waste. Using leftover bones to make broth makes the most delicious soups, so that was a natural next meal.
2. Fermenting vegetables
Now we know that sauerkraut or other fermented foods are a great source of prebiotics for our gut, and these foods are expensive! They used to be very cheap- you simply added water and salt to cabbage and let it sit in a crock until it became sauerkraut. It was a useful way to preserve extra vegetables before they went bad or to save them for winter when fresh vegetables were not available.
3. Using the whole egg
With the egg and cholesterol scare of the 80's and into the 90's, many people stopped eating eggs or switched to egg whites only. Now research has confirmed that dietary cholesterol does not raise cholesterol in your body. The whole egg is the better, more nutrient dense option, as of course, grandmas know.
4. Sourdough bread
Sourdough bread is easier to digest as the fermentation process destroys most of the gluten and creates a more nutritious food than what water and flour could be on their own. Now, sourdough is making a comeback. (My husband got a started a few years ago and makes it regularly). But some starters have been passed down for hundreds of years, and sourdough is an ancient practice.
5. Grow your own
We know that growing our own vegetables means they are naturally organic (no labels needed), fresher, more nutrient dense, last longer and taste better than getting them from the grocery store. I was lucky to grow up with parents and grandparents that had large gardens and passed down a love for gardening, even if my plot is one tenth the size of theirs! Community gardens are a fantastic option for urban or town living.
6. Raw, full fat milk
Milk is very controversial these days. Most of the conventional milk now available is lacking in the nutrients that raw, full fat milk contains yet because of risk of contamination, fewer and fewer states are allowed to sell raw milk.
Regardless of where you fall on the dairy issue, we should remember that people were drinking raw milk for thousands of years without the gut issues and dairy intolerances that we see today. My grandma only had raw milk in her house, straight from the barn.
7. Dandelion greens
Using greens and other plants for medicinal properties is making a comeback too. I remember learning that dandelion greens are one of the most nutritious greens and I had a flashback to my dad telling my grandma would make dandelion tea when he grew up. Whether she understood exactly what it did is unclear, but she knew it was beneficial.
There is so much wisdom in the generations before us, before factory food and convenience meals were a thing. What small steps can you take to include more of grandma's foods?