Providence of Provenance
I mentioned ‘provenance’ in my very first blog entry, but I’ve not discussed it since, yet it is so important. Why now? What does it mean?
Firstly what it means – according to Wikipedia, the definition is:
Provenance, from the French provenir, “to come from”, means the origin, or the source, of something, or the history of the ownership or location of an object. The term was originally mostly used of works of art, but is now used in similar senses in a wide range of fields, including science and computing. The primary purpose of provenance is to confirm or gather evidence as to the time, place, and if appropriate the person responsible, for the creation, production or discovery of the object, but this will typically be accomplished by tracing the whole history of the object up to the present.
I’m now extending this definition to include the origin of our food. How was it reared, grown or produced? From start to finish…
Why is this important again now? My last blog was all about the right fats and although this is very important, the question of the origin of each of these fats is just as important. So even though monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil) are good for you, it’s better not to heat them too much so cold pressed oils are best and organic cold pressed oils are even better! Here the ‘provenance’ of the product starts with the organic farm that grew the olives, through the process of cold pressing to bottling in recyclable containers. You can even add the location of the farm and the pressing plant if you wish to consider the ‘carbon footprint’ of the product.
This leads us to animal fats and that old saying ‘you are what you eat’. It’s difficult to know where to start on this topic… I’m sure you’ve heard all the talk that we need to eat more omega-3 oils because our balance of omega-6 to omega-3 is out of equilibrium. I’ll elaborate on the health issues associated with this imbalance in my next blog.
But do you know why we have this imbalance? We’re led to believe it’s because we’re not eating enough fish but it’s really because we’re eating too much omega-6! To understand this we need to look at the meat, milk, cheese and eggs we’re eating and see what these animals have been eating – we’re back to the importance of ‘provenance’ of food again.
Healthy ratios of omega-6:omega-3 range from 1:1 to 4:1. Studies suggest that the evolutionary human diet, rich in game animals, seafood and other sources of omega-3, may have provided such a ratio. Typical modern Western diets provide ratios of between 10:1 and 30:1 – i.e., dramatically skewed toward omega-6.
The reason for this is that corn, soybean and sunflower oils are all high in omega-6, so if the cows that produce our meat, milk and cheese, and the chickens that lay our eggs are fed corn and soy based feeds, then their products are also high in omega-6. Whereas if the cows were left to feed naturally on grass and the chickens to scratch around in the wild at insects and green plants, then their omega-6:omega-3 ratios are naturally correctly balanced…
I’ve added a summary of the nutritional benefits of grass fed animals for extra info:
Hence ‘we are what we eat’ and the importance of eating healthy extends from not just eating the right types of oils and fats but to ensuring that these come from the right origins –
– The Providence of Provenance…