Some estimates show that a full 60% of our calories come from four plants: wheat, soy, rice, and corn. Mostly these are not in their natural state, however, but in highly processed forms such as high-fructose corn syrup (a super sweetener) and soy lecithin (a filler). Eat natural foods and you will not be overdosed on these four.
In Asia, far more foods are included in their diets than we use in America. We all know that we can eat radishes, but did you know that we can also eat the radish tops? They are an excellent leafy green vegetable, as are dandelion greens, mustard greens, and turnip greens. Koreans make a jelly out of acorns; and the stems of a sweet potato can be marinated and taste delicious. Also don't forget about sea vegetables, such as seaweed and kelp, which are incredibly nutritious. There are many more available foods that we neglect when we confine our diets to the most tasty or easiest-to-prepare. Remember, we are not only feeding our tongues, so we need to diversify the portfolio and get more tastes and textures into the rotation.
Next time you are at the market, please take note of how many things they carry in the produce section that we never use. (There are still many items that I don't even know how to use.) Slowly try to expand your palette and every month, add one or two new foods. There are hundreds of recipe sites on the Internet that can give you suggestions on how to use these new foods. If you are feeling adventurous, check out the produce at the Asian markets and experiment with things like lotus root, Chinese cabbage, persimmon, and more.
Asian cooking tends to incorporate many different vegetables, and a typical Chinese stir-fry might contain over a dozen veggies. Koreans serve 5-30 pahnchaans (little side dishes of different prepared vegetables and other foods) at most meals and eating a little of many foods makes sure you do not have too much of any one.
There is a new trend in the health-conscious crowd called the locovores. Carnivores eat meat, herbivores eat plants, omnivores eat everything, and locovores only eat local food. I don't think you need to go overboard with this, but there is some sense to it. We have evolved in different parts of the world with different foods for good reason. It is not by coincidence that the parts of the world where a lot of spicy food is eaten tend to be by the equator. In equatorial regions, that spicy energy is needed to open the pores, causing sweating, and cooling the body down. Jalapenos do not grow in Canada as people don't need that energy there.
This is not to say that spicy peppers should never be eaten, but it is not good to eat a very tropical diet when not living in a tropical region. My practice is in New York and I notice that many Indian immigrants have trouble because they want to keep eating the spicy curries and coriander of their native land. This spice suits the climate of South India, but it does not suit the midwestern climate. As a result, they can overheat themselves.
Another benefit of locally grown food is that it will be much fresher, and therefore more alive, when you eat it. We get our life-force from the life of the food we consume. Foods that are grown on the other side of the world can take weeks to be delivered; and they use carbon dioxide, wax, and food coloring to make it look fresh. No matter how it is preserved, the closer to freshly picked produce, the better it is. So be sure to check out your local farmer's market.
Our diets should consist mostly of local foods, slightly cooked. When changing to a new type of diet, people always need direction and ask many questions. In answer to questions such as whether it is better to eat more root vegetables or leafy ones, the answer is "Yes." And in response as to whether it is better to eat broccoli or asparagus, again I say "Yes." You should eat most foods-greens, reds, yellow, purples, roots, flowers, stems, leaves, and seeds, etc. If you do that, you have no choice but to eat moderately.
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