Gray Sky Farm

The Diet Pendulum

Last Thursday, when I was buying my dozen farm-fresh eggs from Gray Sky Farm, another customer was bemoaning the fact that she couldn't eat as many eggs as she liked "because of the cholesterol." Remember that dietary advice? That, if you had to have eggs, better make it egg whites because of the cholesterol.

Gray Sky chickens gathering for some Chaco Canyon Cafe leftovers

I tried to give her the ten-second argument for why eggs are back on the menu, based on "the latest studies" and what I'd read in The Big Fat Surprise, but I don't blame her if she tuned me out. With the diet pendulum always swinging back and forth--fat/no fat, carbs/no carbs, etc./no etc.--who can keep up? Or, if they keep up, who can rein in their skepticism?

It may interest you to know, however, that the eating-cholesterol-raises-cholesterol theory was laid to rest in 1952(!) and has stayed dead in further studies. One telling quote from Nina Teicholz's book:

...When Uffe Ravnskov, a Swedish doctor, upped his consumption of eggs from one to eight per day (about 1600 mg of cholesterol) for nearly a week, he made the remarkable discovery that his total cholesterol level went down...in fact, eating two to three eggs a day over a long period of time has never been shown to have more than a minimal impact on serum cholesterol for the vast majority of people.

Never mind that, as Teicholz goes on to discuss, cholesterol levels don't even correlate with heart disease and the suite of Western diseases, unless you're talking small-particle LDL.

What does this mean for us?

Buy that dozen eggs. Heck--buy two dozen!

Teicholz goes on to laud the wonders of animal fats in a convincing way, full of plenty of studies, facts, figures, and so on, and I gleefully went back to frying in bacon fat and butter. She isn't the only one calling for the return of meat and whole dairy and animal fat in general. Remember how I said I'd take a look at Wheat Belly?

Well, I did. (You can read the full review on Goodreads.) Dr. Davis begins his beef with the hybrid wheats grown in America. (They aren't GMO, since they've developed these wheats the old-fashioned way, crossing different breeds to get the traits they want.) You name it, wheat causes it: obesity, diabetes, heart disease, GI issues, Celiac--acne, for crying out loud! Why does it seem like every new book blames everything wrong with the world on one thing, be it wheat, sugar, transfats, what-have-you?

The doctor's orders? Cut the wheat. But not only the wheat. Cut carbs, basically. Not only breads and pastas and cookies, but also "most fruit," black beans and pinto beans--I would name more forbidden items except that he lost me at black beans. Are you kidding me? Who could keep to such a diet, unless they were deathly allergic or at death's door?

Here's the problem #1 with most diet advice: it's unsustainable. Yes, you can do protein shakes for two weeks, but you sure can't do it for life. Yes, you can cut most carbs for weeks, but you sure can't do it for life.

Here's problem #2: you become a pain in the hindquarters when people want to feed you. I'm a firm believer in food bringing families and communities together. Barring food allergies, asking your hosts to accommodate your latest dietary endeavors is not fun. I had this problem when I read The Year of No Sugar. Man, was that family a nuisance! They weren't giving up sugar for any reason, as far as I could see, except to get a book contract, but everyone around them had to jump through hoops.

Here's problem #3: most diets are crazy expensive. Whether you have to buy the signature foods or whether you're going Paleo on your own. I don't see how going mostly-meat is even possible for the average wallet or for the planet. Dr. Davis claims you eat less on proteins and fats, and I believe he's probably right, but you still have to eat something, and that something is pretty pricey, when not supplemented by carbs.

[Climbing down off soapbox.]

Dr. Davis argues that abstinence is easier than allowing yourself tiny amounts because the carbs have an addictive element, and the man has a point. Every year when we do Sugar-Free January, I find going cold turkey way easier than having one dessert a week, but does this have to apply to fruit and black beans???

All that said, my family will continue to eat sandwiches, fruit, black beans, and the occasional sweet treat, along with our Market eggs and meat and cheese. If I have to give up something food-related, I think first in line would be the chemicals and additives found in processed food, but even that rule is flexible. If someone lovingly prepares me Hamburger Helper, salad from a bag, and brownies from a mix, I will say thank-you and enjoy...

Shopping List for Opening Day

At long last, Opening Day of the Thursday Bellevue Farmers Market is upon us!

The nitty-gritty:

WHEN: Thursday, May 15, 3-7 p.m.

WHERE: Parking lot of Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Follow the sounds of laughter and music and the delicious smells!

In case you haven't looked out the window, spring has sprung, and our farmers and vendors have loads of fresh, local, beautiful food for us. Consider the following for your shopping list!

1. Fresh asparagus. Yes, you can buy it in the store, but have you actually ever tasted super fresh farm asparagus? A little olive oil and throw it in the oven or on the grill. We had some last year that we actually groaned over, it was that good. Nutty and flavorful. Look for it at Alvarez, Growing Washington, and Crawford Farm.

2. Dark, leafy greens. Recently I've been hooked on kale and chard. I've discovered slivered chard makes a great substitute for shredded lettuce in tacos, or for the greens in your salad. Since I've disavowed bagged salad, I've gotten more creative with the kinds of salads that grace our table. May I suggest this one?

Kale-Lentil-Scallion-Almond Salad with Luscious Dressing 
Not exactly what your salad will look like because Gina of soletshangout.com used some different ingredients

1 bunch dinosaur kale, slivered, with the stems stripped out
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup cooked lentils (leftover from my fridge. Canned beans would also work.)
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Luscious Dressing (which I found at Soletshangout.com):
3 Tbsp almond butter
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
smidge of ginger powder
two cloves garlic
1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon juice

Blend dressing ingredients in food processor or blender and toss with salad ingredients.

3. Canned Tuna!!!! Can I tell you how excited I am that Fishing Vessel St. Jude will be at the Market on Thursday? If you like tuna salad or Salade Nicoise, you will taste them on a whole new level if you grab this tuna. Talk to Joyce Malley about how she catches her tuna and what makes it way awesomer than garden-variety grocery store kinds.

4. Eggs. The Market is here, and I am so over eggs with pale yolks and runny whites. Bring on those happy eggs from happy chickens on the loose! Bring on those richer yolks and firmer egg whites, which must come of eating bugs or other things chickens find on the loose. If you can't bring yourself to eat bugs, eat things that eat bugs. Gray Sky Farms joins our other egg vendors this year, so this should mean plenty of eggs for all.

5. Meat. Got my yearly bloodwork done, and I'm still anemic, dang it. Rather than take iron pills, I'm trying to up my consumption of red meat, so let's hear it for our farmers and their steaks and roasts and hamburger patties and sausages. We've got Skagit River Ranch and Olsen Farms. Pure, pastured goodness. And it's not just beef. You'll also find pork and lamb and cured meats!

6. Honey and Jam? Peach or apricot or nectarine jam, to be precise. Not sure if we'll have honey or jam folks this Opening Day, but I can hope...I've been nursing one jar of Camp Robber Nectarine Jam all winter, and I'd like to use it with abandon, thank you very much.

7. Apples and some frozen fruit. Don't know if you've noticed, but we're reaching the bottom of the barrel at the grocery store. It'll be nice to ask our farmers, "What's the crunchiest variety you have?" And if anyone has frozen peaches or berries, those sure would be nice in a smoothie about now.

8. Potatoes. Ask your farmers to recommend specific varieties for potato salad (boiling), baking, or frying. And just ignore the part in recipes where it tells you to peel them!

Sneak peek of a Snohomish Bakery danish. You want the full pic? You can't handle the full pic!

9. Baked goods. The problem will be choosing. Will it be the pretzel from Tall Grass Bakery? The three-berry pie from Adrienne's Cakes and Pies? Close-Your-Eyes-and-Pick-Anything--You-Can't-Go-Wrong from Snohomish Bakery? I might have to bring more than one kid along, so I'm forced to buy more than one goodie and to "tax" them all.

10. Dinner. Say, just for argument's sake, you get so hungry just walking around the Market, buying items off your grocery list, that you decide just to pick up dinner there. Will it be gourmet mac & cheese from the new vendor Melt? Hard to resist varieties with names like "Cozy Pajamas" (three cheese) and "Game Night" (Buffalo chicken mac). Or maybe you should just pick up some soup or the tried-and-true favorite, pizza. Best yet, perhaps, would be just to meet your family or friends at the Market, that way everyone can choose his own adventure.

Lots and lots of good stuff ahead! Meanwhile, I'll see you all Thursday. I'll be the lady with the camera and the begging children hanging off her.