Traditional Foods: Why Bother?

lacto-fermented salsa. kombucha. kimchi. kefir. coconut oil. raw milk. sourdough bread.

oh and cultured butter. lots and lots of it.

my hubbies translation: “hippy food that makes our kitchen look like a science experiment”

my translation: “REAL food, that is packed full of vitamins, enzymes and cultures that aid in digestion and can heal your gut, fill you up, and give you more energy as it cleans out your system.  and yes… it’s very ‘hippy’ and it does kinda look like a highschool science lab on my kitchen counters”

In the coming weeks here at Vintage Kids | Modern World, we will be exploring more “hippy recipes”, but before we get that far…why on earth would you want to bother?

Especially if your grocery cart is packed full of “the normal stuff” – you know:

…lunch meat and sliced cheese, some apples and maybe some carrot sticks even, hot dogs, frozen pizza, some boxed (or maybe frozen) dinners (for that night when the kids have sports and you’ll be rushed to get something on the table), maybe some chips and soda, some skim milk, maybe a few yogurt cups for the kids’ lunch.  Oh and that pint of Starbucks ice cream that will be quietly stuck in the very back of the freezer, lest little ones find it, and -horror- they delve into that caffeine laden dessert.  It all seems normal, so then why bother? after all, those “normal” foods don’t contain anything scary like “lactobacilli” or things that you once grew in a petri dish, right?

I had never heard of these things growing up.  it kind of even freaked me out that yogurt had “live cultures” in it. I never would have guessed that I would be fermenting my own kombucha in large jars above my stove! (And if you don’t know what kombucha is, please don’t feel bad – you’re not alone!)

but let me back up…this all started over 6 years ago when we realized that our oldest daughter had, what we thought, was baby acne.  Through a long string of events, and misdiagnosis, we realized that because I had received massive amounts of penicillin during my labor with her, that she was born with compromised gut flora.  The antibiotics that I had received had attacked all of the good bacteria in her gut, so her intestines weren’t able to process many enzymes, and she had an especially hard time with the lactose in milk, producing a funny rash every time she came in contact with dairy.  After some research and recommendations, we started her on a high-grade probiotic and we switched to local, grass-fed raw milk.  I know it sounds scary and hippy-ish, but hang with me.

Her dairy allergy is gone.   We were able to help cure her gut, thus strengthening her immune system.

And most importantly to me, as a mother, I watched my daughter’s body heal itself through simple, traditional nutritional practices.  

So what is traditional food?

In the most basic sense, traditional foods are those things that are un-processed, un-refined and were not created in a factory or laboratory.  Things that our ancestors ate back in the day that completely nourished and sustained them; things that were eaten raw, fermented, cultured and sometimes soaked and sprouted. (Don’t worry; we’ll cover these things in following articles!)

Traditional cultures, pre-19th and 20th century industrialization, consumed non-processed foods…quite obviously.  And funny thing is, before our “convenience foods” diabetes, heart disease, obesity, cholesterol problems, many forms of cancers,  auto-immune diseases, dental problems, and even depression (just to name a few!) were a rarity and most definitely not the norm.  We underestimate how much our nutrition plays a part in our total health, not to mention our energy levels!  For some great resources on traditional foods, check out these articles:

Traditional Foods in a Nutshell

Two Paradigms of Healthy Eating

After we realized the impact that diet had on my daughter’s health, I realized that I wanted to make some big changes.  The problem was, I was still working part time and raising a little one and so I didn’t have hours to spend in the kitchen preparing “homemade foods” – which in my mind meant that I would be kneading bread and plucking my own chickens.  Plus, (and this was a BIG one in our house) there was no way we could afford to buy all of our groceries at the health food store, so if I couldn’t do it all, why bother?


After a lot of trial and error and many late nights researching, here’s what I discovered:

1. We saw huge improvements in our health with just a few small – very inexpensive – changes; both in adding certain things and omitting others.

2. With a little pre-planning, I am able to prepare traditional foods with very little extra effort and can even do “meals on the go” or last minute options!

3. Eating traditionally can actually be cheaper.  Seriously.  Yeah, there are some ingredients that cost a little more because you’re paying for the quality of the ingredients.  Funny thing is though, the higher the quality of the food, the more vitamins and nutrients it has and so you feel fuller.  You’ll start to find yourself eating less because your body is TRULY satiated and satisfied – not just full.

4. Even on those days when I find myself in the kitchen longer than I planned…I realize that, beyond a shadow of a doubt…it’s worth it.  

Please take a look at some of these links from fellow Traditional Food Bloggers to see why they “bothered going the natural route”.  They have done an amazing amount of research and put together some great information, so see for yourself…

Reading Food Labels

Soaking Whole Grains: why do it?

Can we be well fed but malnourished? the teeth will tell

Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease

Cholesterol and Heart Disease, a phony issue

Fats and Oils and Their Impact on Health

All of these blogs have a WEALTH of information that will really make you think about the value of nutrition – so look around at their recipes, tips and research!

what kind of questions do you have about traditional foods? Do you already incorporate these in your diet? 

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This post is featured on Fight Back Fridays, and Fresh Bites Friday, Sunday School Blog Carnival at Butter Believer, Seasonal Celebration at Natural Mother’s Network and the Homestead Barn Hop

top photo amended by me, but originally from this great photog

originally posted January 2012

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