Learning from Our Ancestors

The way our ancestors ate over the centuries allowed them to flourish, thrive, and survive (at times) from one generation to the next. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon states that “the culinary traditions of our ancestors, and the food choices and preparation techniques of healthy nonindustrialized peoples, should serve as the model for contemporary eating habits, even and especially during this modern technological age.” Indeed, we have drifted more and more away from these authentic cuisines, choosing convenience over the time-tested traditional methods of cooking. Going back to these ancient ways of preparing and consuming whole foods is a sure way to better our health and wellness. As Michael Pollan puts it, “Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

“Four Pillars of World Cuisine”

In her books Food Rules and Deep Nutrition, Dr. Catherine Shanahan explains that “all authentic world cuisines share the same four categories of food sources and preparative techniques:”

  • Fresh, raw food
  • Sprouted and fermented foods
  • Meat cooked on the bone
  • Organ meats

So along with using traditional cooking methods, we want to pick in-season local ingredients whenever possible, of course. 

Fresh, Raw Food

Fresh food implies in-season picks. Examples of fresh foods are:

Sprouted and Fermented Foods

If you sprout or ferment certain foods you increase the nutritional quality of these foods. With fermented foods, you get a variety of good bacteria for the gut. Examples of fermented and sprouted foods are:

  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Sprouted almonds

Meat Cooked on the Bone

The most common ways to cook meat on the bone are either by slow-simmering meats, like in stews, or roasting them. By cooking meat for a long time that way, gently, you to preserve the nutrients and collagen in your meal. A personal favorite of mine is bone broth.

Sidenote: Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body, found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system, and tendons. Consuming collagen can benefit your body in multiple ways.

Examples of meat on the bone are:

  • Roast turkey
  • Chicken soup
  • Barbequed spare ribs
  • Braised lamb shanks
  • Greens braised in chicken stock

Organ Meats

As mentioned in my previous post, organ meats are full of beneficial nutrients that can be easily absorbed by the body. Examples of organ meats are:

  • Pan fried lamb kidneys in butter
  • Beef tongue stew
  • Roasted bone marrow
  • Duck liver pate
  • Liverwurst (US wellness Meats offers this)

In Summary

Taking the time to prepare well-sourced whole foods by using traditional methods of cooking is an ideal way to nourish our body properly. Consuming fresh, raw food, sprouted and fermented foods, meats cooked on the bone, and organ meats should be part of our daily lives. Fueling our body with the right nutrient-dense foods is what can give us the strength and resilience needed to face whatever life may bring.


Dr. Axe. “What Is Collagen?” Dr. Axe, 5 Feb. 2019, draxe.com/nutrition/what-is-collagen/. Accessed 7 Apr. 2020.

Fallon, Sally, et al. Nourishing Traditions : The Cookbook That Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. Brandywine, Md, Newtrends Pub, 2001, p. xi.

Pollan, Michael. In Defense of Food : An Eater’s Manifesto. Turtleback Books, 2009, p. 148.

Shanahan, Catherine. Food Rules : A Doctor’s Guide to Healthy Eating. Bedford, Nh, Big Box Books, 2010, p. 54-56.

Shanahan, Catherine, and Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition : Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. New York, Flatiron Books, 2017, pp. 328–333.

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