When I was a little kid, we were poor country people. We didn’t have a lot, but we had a little land where we could grow fruit, veggies, and livestock. We’d get a calf, and name him Hamburger. Bottle feed him until he was big enough to graze. And send him off to the butcher when the time came. We had a big freezer out in the barn. Hamburger would come back in many, many packages, and we’d eat well for a long time.
We did the same with pigs. And rabbits. I recall the beheading of chickens, but more often they were kept for egg production because plucking all those feathers was not fun (so it appeared — I was too young to be much involved when the big chicken slaughter went down).
My family also hunted for, and ate, squirrels. On multiple occasions. *Squirrels!*
One of the great comforting luxuries as a child was to come home on a crisp fall evening after school, to a house that was warm and glowing and saturated with the scent of a roast baking in the oven. Tender roast beef, carrots, celery, onions, garlic.
In the years when we didn’t have central heat (lots of years), cooking a roast for a few hours would help heat up the house.
Then, I grew up.
Beef became taboo, because people — THEY/the establishment — said it was unhealthy. Among all the things I could eat, this was something that clearly must be the cause of my intermittent weight problems, because — saturated fat! Too much meat! Meat = bad! I should be a vegetarian and eat a tofu-roast, or whole wheat pasta with marinara sauce. Peanut butter and jelly on whole wheat bread.
And so for years I have had weight issues, trying to eat what seemed “healthy”, reading articles to understand what was in fact “healthy”, but really wanting to cook a nice beef roast. Any time I had beef, or steak, I felt lots of guilt. Not for killing the cow (as you can see, that food-chain reality has always been part of my life). Rather, I felt as though I was being naughty or evil or unhealthy, and actively damaging my health because I selfishly wanted a comfort-food fix. And I’d feel bad because I’d failed yet again, and while I kept working out at the gym, I secretly worried I’d always have a weight problem. After all, I deserved it.
Then, I discovered this new way to think about food and eating. The grocery store became both mystifying (why is so much of the food in this giant warehouse of food filled with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, sugar, and wheat?) and simple (all I need to worry about is the fresh seasonal produce, protein, healthy fats, and nuts).
Tonight, I cooked the roast. Roasts were on sale at the store, so I grabbed one, and a bag of organic carrots, and celery, and a few onions. I rubbed the meat with a pepper, sea salt, and thyme, and browned it in a dutch oven with a little extra virgin olive oil. I removed the seared cut, and cooked the onions, added some garlic powder and some old white wine from the fridge. Added the beef back, and cooked it for an hour at 350, then added the celery and carrots and cooked it for another hour.
And I fully enjoyed a delicious dinner, just like my mom taught me to make. I left out the potatoes.
Thanks to paleo-ish living, I am down 35lbs. My muscle mass, energy, concentration, and enjoyment of life all increased. I just ate pot roast with veggies, and I didn’t feel like it would be the ruination of me. No food guilt. In the two prior years of calorie deprivation and daily gym visits, I never experienced such success, satisfaction, or wellness.
Food is a huge part of our lives. We have to eat to live, we have to work to earn money to buy the food, or grow the food, or hunt for the food. I had lived for years with daily eating being mixed up with bad feelings, long-term calorie deprivation alternating with gluttonous overeating, comfort-eating, guilt, excess weight, and ill health.
Tonight, I just cooked a simple roast, had some dinner, thoroughly enjoyed it, and went on with my life. Actually, I went online to share that news via WordPress. This little story may sound really stupid, I don’t know? For me, and my one little life, it’s monumental. 🙂