“Everyone Agrees: Fresh Food Better.” Uh, Not Everyone.

In a brief Atlantic article about the paleo diet, Alesh Houdek writes:

There is no question that we should eat more fresh and unprocessed foods. . . . The Paleo diet’s dictum to eat as fresh as possible is shared universally with all modern sane eating guidelines.

As regular readers of this blog know, I disagree that “fresh is better”. Fermented is not just better but necessary. To work best, I think our bodies need substantial daily doses of fermented food or their microbial equivalent. Evolution has shaped us to like sour, umami-flavored, and complex-flavored food so that we will eat more microbe-laden food. More about this in these posts. Pass the umeboshi.



8 Replies to ““Everyone Agrees: Fresh Food Better.” Uh, Not Everyone.”

  1. beer, bread-and-butter, cheese, pickles: we call that a ploughman’s lunch – favourite pub fare. Eat healthy, eat English!

  2. Well, before refridgeration, food was fresh for a little bit, then it was fermented/covered in microbes, whether you wanted it to be or not.
    Meat, fuit, veggies, everything.

    My family leaves (cooked) animal products out overnight without even thinking about it. People from families who don’t do this are afraid of eating a hard boiled egg that’s been out of the fridge for a day. Somthing about stomach pain and vomiting?

    Anyways, where are the calls to be less of a baby about food spoilage?

  3. Seth,
    Some of these comments raise an interesting question that you might clarify : does the microbial content need to be alive? As one writer points out, bread is made with yeast, but the yeast would be killed in baking. Also, what about pickles: alive or dead (salt or vinegar)? Finally, what about beer? I’m fond (in moderation, mind you) of Belgian traditional brews, which I believe retain active yeast cultures. On the side of the angels? I will say that when ever I down some sour kraut or yogurt–and I am fond of both–I have you to thank for the feeling having made a good health choice while I enjoy the flavor.

    1. To improve digestion they need to be alive. To improve immune function, probably not. It’s hard to measure effectiveness. So I play it safe with several kinds of fermented foods every day.

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