Growing up I wasn't taught a lot about what food was good for me. We often ate fastfood, McDonald's nuggets doused in corn syrup, diabetes laden soda, magical foods ready to eat packed away into a cardboard sarcophagus....and how could we know better? Was the market at large encourage good choices===> NOPE.
G-d bless my parents- they did what they knew. We regularly ate apples, carrots, grapes...some other real foods in the mix, yet we weren't aware of the harm our overall diet was doing.
When I was a teen I had bad acne- so bad that I decided to see a dermatologist. He slightly talked about diet and it's affect on my skin, but only in a mild fashion... So I ended up take Accutane to help with clearing up my acne. This ended up doing horrible damage to my stomach (which side-effects were not heavily emphasized by the dermatologist).
In the wreckage of this medication, resulting in scarred tissue in my stomach, came the harm of another: Prevacid. This is a proton-pump inhibitor. So...what the heck does that mean? Medication like this is intended to help with GERD/acid-reflux by reducing stomach acid.
It's common for people to think that when they have digestive issues like this, that there's too much stomach acid....but in reality about 90 PER CENT of people don't produce ENOUGH stomach acid. This is something I learned from Jonathan Wright M.D.'s book Why Stomach Acid is Good for You. (if you are interested in reading this book https://www.amazon.com/Why-Stomach-Acid-Good-You/dp/0871319314 )
There's a lot to go into about stomach acid- but the short story on this is that often the Standard American Diet (SAD) and some medications can decrease stomach acid- as well as damage the stomach lining. Some of the functions of stomach acid are to break down foods/proteins for absorption, to kill off pathogens, to allow minerals to be absorbed (iron for example requires an acid pH to be absorbed) as well as properly trigger all the other steps of digestions.
This lack of stomach acid combined with other medications potentially threw everything off for me. Thankfully their presence in my life did not last a long time, however I still believe I have some lingering scarred tissue.
Just like many teenagers, as I grew older I started to question the world around me. I knew I wanted to be an adult, but I didn't want to be like the ones I knew in my life. Through my peers I decided to become vegetarian- lasting about 6 years. This helped me in reassessing how I interacted with food. I had to reconsider whatever was offered to me, and I had to learn to cook for myself, frequently failing often on dishes....kids- learn from your parents before you move out (wink).
Near the end of this time as a vegetarian I was living in Indianapolis volunteering with Big City Farms. Through Matthew Jose and Tyler Henderson I learned about all sorts of new vegetables, kale, swiss chard, arrugula, legions of lettuces, bourgeouning bok choy, paddocks of potatoes and so on. A agricultural/culinary pathway was expanded. New realms of exploration of foods and a local food system were accessible to me.
In this same season I found out that there was a food co-operative hiring. I got my butt over there ASAP handing in my resume to Greg Monzel, the original General Manager of Pogue's Run Grocer on the east side of Indianapolis. Two weeks before the opening of the store in 2010 I was offered a job. Shortly after starting I was promoted to Produce Buyer.
I loved the mornings- waking up the vegetables from their slumber in the cooler, baptizing them in the sink before an artful arrangement for the passer-byes. Local farmers I met through Big City Farms now stocked the shelves of this lovely store. I learned the joys and struggles of the food system, the conundrum of food access - living wages for farmers - quality foods for people - andthe enormity of the food system that provides the majority of our goods.
I continued to grow in knowledge of nutrition as well as culinary skill with the help of my coworkers Nate Roberts, Greg Monzel, and Luke Caenapeel. Because the relationship with local farmers I decided to try eating meat as well. The first time I cooked a steak at home my friends were skeptical- "How can a soonly retired vegetarian make steak right??" They shut up once the food was in their mouths- impressed with the flavors and textures.
Leading up to this point I still had some stomach issues- about every month I would have a day that I'd get sick and vomit. I could give reasons I THINK it was happening, but the only thing that changed this in my life was the introduction of meat and other animal products. Once I started to incorporate these, my overall health changed for the better.
My worldview was shifted when I learned about the studies of Weston A. Price DDS, a man who around the 1920s decided to travel the world and study the diets of isolated populations- untouched by modernized foods, while comparing people in similar areas on trade routes exposed to "the food of commerce." Price thought he'd fine some noble group of people living healthily as vegetarians or vegans- unlocking the secret of health and ethics.
Price found something contradictory. Animals were essential to the health and development peoples- everyone living outside of the commercialized food system knew they could not sustain generations without some sort of animal products. More so the raising and handling of these animals was much different than the confined feeding operations that PETA has exposed (and rightly so). Through the mineral and vitamin analysis of these foods (produce and animals) Price found high amounts of nutrients- farming techniques combined with the proper culinary techniques produced what we call "nutrient-dense" foods. Looking first at their teeth- Price witnessed that the rates of cavities and facial deformities all displayed the quality of life these people had spanning all parts of the globe there were people living healthily with out hospitals or dentists. I could go on, but I'll leave that for another post. For more info check out http://www.westonaprice.org/
As I continued to work at Pogue's Run Grocer, people would be coming into the store trying to find what diet was best for them- Paleo? Gluten-Free? Whole 30? Vegan? Raw? etc... I realized there needed to be someone who could provide help that was a professional in understanding nutrition.
In that same time I went to a Weston A. Price conference here in Indianapolis- at which there was a booth for a school called Nutritional Therapy Association. I knew immediately this is what I wanted to do- and after talking to some alumni I was sold. Through this school I was able to learn an incredible amount about the nutrients in foods as well as how our bodies interact with the foods (aka the study of nutrition). For the first few months my wonder and brain exploded. When our class met in person in Ann Arbor, MI I learned from some amazing professionals like Caroline Barringer- who had been working in the field for years. In this class we learned some hands-on techniques for checking reflex points on a client's body to chart how different systems are doing (like liver/gallbladder or small intestine, etc.). The real magic happens when we go back and lingual neural test foods/supplements against these points and see a reduction in soreness. We call this the innate intelligence.
After graduating in October of 2015, I eventually opened my own Nutritional Therapy Practice here in Indianapolis. Now I help teach classes, produce info videos for Pogue's Run Grocer, and help individual clients find the right foods for them.