Good-Food Hunting

I must admit I have become a bit obsessed with food these days.  With very little else to do to take control over my recovery, I have turned to my diet.  This is not to say that my diet was every unhealthy – but I am learning that what I thought was healthy may have just turned out to be one of the contributors to my cancer.   At least – this is a line that I am pursing.

My mother taught me to cook.  My brother and I were absolutely spoiled by her cooking.  I never realized that, of course, until I became an adult.  Everything my mother cooked was from scratch.  She was relentless.  When Kraft Dinner was introduced, I wanted nothing to do with Mom’s home-cooked macaroni and cheese.  There was no way, however, that any of that “garbage” (sorry Kraft!) would enter our home.  “Stacey, it is full of junk that is not good for you.  Why would you want that artificial stuff when mine is so much better?” she would ask.  I was part of that generation turned on by the “sexy” commercials that promised me more fun and happiness if I ate the product the companies were trying to sell.

When McDonald’s came to Barrie, again all I wanted to do was to try a Big Mac!  Who didn’t?  How cool was it that you could get a burger and fries in under 3 minutes!  My mother wanted no part of that.  “How can you get a healthy burger in that amount of time?  It is full of “garbage” (sorry McDonald’s!) and I will not support that.  Why would you not prefer a good home-cooked burger grilled over an open flame of maple wood your dad chopped in our very own bush?” she queried again.  But everyone ate at McDonald’s.  That was cool.  I went to school with the owners of the first McDonald’s in Barrie and they were cool.  The daughter even had a Big Mac clock.  Very cool.  And look at the clown – Ronald was cool.   And then – there was the line-up of cool characters: the Hamburgler, the big purple thing (can’t remember it’s name) the French Fry bushes (don’t remember their names either).  How could food that was so cool be bad?  After- all, it had to pass through Health Canada, right?

My mom was relentless in her cooking.  Guests raved over her meals of roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, home-made soups made with home-made broth, oven-roasted free range chicken from Brown’s farm, farm-fresh eggs from farmers in Craighurst.  “Why do you not just get your food from the grocery store, Mom?” I would often ask.

“Stacey, there is nothing like farm-fresh food.” she would explain simply and furtively.

It turns out – she was right.  Okay, so there is cancer in my family, but my Mom lived until she was 83 and my Dad lived until the ripe old age of 92.  They developed cancer well into their 80s and 90s – not until then.  So, why do I have such extensive cancer at the age of 51?  I thought I was healthy in that I exercised and ate well (or so I thought) and had fantastic support networks that helped me with any emotional trauma that came my way.  The difference between my Mom and I was that she relied on farm-fresh and I relied on “on sale and imported” foods.

Here is what I have learned.  This is not to say that the following is the Gospel truth, but it has given me “food for thought”.  I know it is going to be really astounding in its simplicity.  It is almost a “no brainer”.  You are what you eat – and furthermore, you are what your food eats.  What?  The extra lean ground beef I was eating was eating weird things that cows are not supposed to eat.  The chickens I was eating were not exercising in their cooped up darkened stalls – eating weird things that chickens are not supposed to eat.  Could the stress of their environments be passed through their bodies to “nourish” mine?  I have read studies that would offer a resounding yes!  The consequence of eating beef that is not grass-fed is a product that is not conducive to good health.  Modern methods of farming and raising animals have changed since World War II and the green revolution.  This change is not our friend – it seems critical to return to the food-growing methods of our parents or even grand-parents.  It seems our cows and chickens are eating junk-food and, consequently, so are we.  It also seems that this junk-food has altered the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  These two essential fats cannot be produced by our bodies and so, therefore, must be consumed.  Obviously it is our diet that sets the balance or alters the balance.

So? Dr. David Schreiber outlines in his book, Anti-cancer a new way of life, that “omega-3’s and omega- 6s compete to control our body functions.  Omega 6s help stock fats and promote rigidity in cells as well as coagulation and inflammation in response to outside aggression.  They stimulate the production of fatty cells from birth onward.  Omega-3s are involved in developing the nervous system, making cell membranes more flexible , and reducing inflammation.  The also limit the production of adipose cells.  This balance has changed the most in the last 50 years as a result of the foods that are available for us to eat. Again, so what?  Dr. Schreiber also outlines of studies that suggest cancer cells, that are created all the time, thrive in environments where there is inflammation.  There is a lot more detail about that – but that was enough for my little brain to comprehend at this time.  So – connect the dots and you will find that eating junk-food junkie cows and chickens (so then, milk, cheese, butter, and eggs) offer a diet higher in Omega-6s.. an inflammatory promoter.

I thought I was doing well by cooking from scratch for my family.  Now I can’t help but think about the diet of the animal – or plant for that matter.  Is it possible that eating free-range and grass-fed meat can help me to combat cancer?  I don’t know.  To me – it makes sense.  What have we done even to our farm-lands though pollutions and toxins that precipitate on these lands anyhow?  What can we do to avoid them?  I don’t know.  All I know is I am hunting for good food and it seems this is more of an awakening than anything.  Did you know that table salt contains other substances in it (including sugar???) than just salt?  Course salt is 100% salt.  Just thought you may want to know.

I thought I was a conscious consumer before – turns out I’m not.  I take my food for granted.  Garlic powder, curry powder… butter… you name it and I just assumed it was as advertised.

Mom’s home-cooking was best.  She knew best.  But even my Mom’s recipes are not good enough.  Not only do I need to cook from scratch, but I need to know about the “scratch” too.  It is almost like I’m waking up to food – becoming more aware.  I’m not sure I like having more information – but how can I bury my head and continue to consume the same way I consumed before now knowing more?

I am more obsessed with food these days as it makes sense that food can help me to help my recovery by creating conditions that are better for my immune system and worse for the rogue cancer cells.  It’s the very least I can do for myself and my family to go good-food hunting.

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About inmycorner

This blog began as an opportunity to tell my Dad's stories. I sat with him and the computer and together we told stories. It was a wonderful way to get to know Dad. He was 9. He and Mom had a wonderful life together and since she passed away a year and a half before him - Dad was ready to join her. I no longer tell his stories but have found stories of my own. The impetus to resume this blog was the discovery that I had stage 4 ovarian cancer. Since blogging had been so therapeutic for my dad and I to get through our grief, I felt maybe this would be a good outlet to process my situation. I also hoped it may serve as an outreach to anyone else who is facing this very ominous journey. So far, so good.
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25 Responses to Good-Food Hunting

  1. M Hefkey says:

    Okay, so maybe I won’t be dropping off “butter” cookies or lasagna made with “lean beef”, my turkey pot pie is …..well, very good; but now I am afraid to bring it by. L0L
    I will text you as I was thinking of dropping something off. Perhaps you would rather I come and clean for you????
    Text soon,

    Maryann

    • inmycorner says:

      Ha! Maryann – I will gladly accept whatever it is you have prepared! I have eaten your food before – and I’d be nuts to turn your delicious cooking away. Tanked a bit today after this post – maybe steroid withdrawal? So texting first would be a good idea. You are so thoguhtful – but what happened to the Chinese wine? grin. And thank-you for your care and concern!

  2. kiwiskan says:

    maybe your mum was right… You make some good points

  3. I’m hoping that with our “progress” we learn that not all progress is good and going back to the local raised and naturally raised foods are better. I am absolutely ‘guilty’ of all of the junk food bad habits. But even knowing what I know….I don’t make those big changes yet. 😦

    • inmycorner says:

      Me too. Geez – the one thing I miss the most is chips! I think it is easier now because I know that every bite counts – now it is real. But I think I have always had that superman complex thinking cancer will never happen to me. And now it is here – and now I have to get rid of it — I would advocate to everyone to start with “one” thing.

      • That is a great way to start. One thing. And though I haven’t yet tried “this” thing…. I’ve heard lots of people making their own “kale chips”. In the oven with olive oil and sea salt???? Surely there are good recipes for that…. and I hear they are good!

      • inmycorner says:

        Okay – I don’t know about you – but chips are Perfect. Why mess with perfection? There are some things that just have to remain decadent! They are not bad – an in all honesty – guess I have to keep an open mind.

      • I would suspect that home made chips are better for you than store bought. 🙂

  4. Leah says:

    Hey Aunt Stacey,
    After his bout with cancer, my dad went vegan. He has been doing it for almost three years. No meat, no dairy, no animal anything… I try to eat healthier after what he experienced, like more organic foods and I also try to avoid carcinogens in food like carageenan (a thickener), caramel colour, hormones in meat, arsenic in rice. Google arsenic in rice (arsenic causes bladder cancer). A good website to look at is Dr. Greger’s ‘nutritionfacts.org’. It has all kinds of great information, I love it. As much as I love Bigmacs, I never have them anymore, and I really do love them! I used to love eating crap too, but it really is just “junk food”. Oh, the big purple guy is named Grimace, not sure about the “fry bushes”. Wasn’t there a big yellow female bird with an aviator’s cap as well? *Memories*
    Be obsessed! Eating well can never be a bad thing!

    • inmycorner says:

      Yes, Leah, I had heard your Dad went vegan. And it is so good to hear that his change of diet has made him (maybe? or likely?) healthier. I will take a peek at that website as I am thirsting for knowledge right now – desparate to find what I CAN do to help my body fight the good fight. Thank-you for this — I am aware of the colours, carageen and hormones – but arsenic… makes sense according to the countries it comes from (likely natural in the water?) Just had basamati rice tonight.

      I don’t remember the big bird – sure that wasn’t Sesame Street? Weird and commercialized world that was then and how the images have changed to today “McCafe” eh?

  5. Rita says:

    Coincidentally you wrote about diet just when I read an article this morning on diet and ovarian cancer. It focused on diet pre-diagnosis but I know that the care you are taking with your food right now is helping you and it is important to focus on what YOU can do to help your body fight back. Keep it up … it is helping you and everyone in your family … and it is inspirational and makes us all think more about just what we are putting in our bodies.

    http://www.msn.com/en-ca/health/nutrition/diet-may-influence-ovarian-cancer-survival/ar-BB9ufvW

    • inmycorner says:

      Thanks, Rita, and I guess you tend to pay more attention to the things that immediately concern you – and now ovarian cancer is one of those things. Unfortunately – or fortunately. Do you think arugula is a cancer-fighting food? (grin) Thanks for the encouragement – I have had a lot of that which is such a departure from the nay-sayers of years ago. I guess that Leah is on the right track too! (And her dad!) Will check out the websites – thank you for them. I am desperate to help myself as I have a few more things I need to do before I depart!

  6. Gallivanta says:

    You and I are live in countries with relatively good health standards/regulations re food but there are still aspects of our food chain that make my hair stand on end; eg feeding cattle sweets and bakery products. http://beefmagazine.com/blog/candy-corn-isn-t-just-kids-anymore Cattle are eating food that I wouldn’t eat more than once in a blue moon and maybe not even then.

    • inmycorner says:

      I agree. And that we are in countries that have these standards that are still sub-standard is amazing. Makes me think how much of a power shift there really is from government to big industry. I wonder if it is even possible to truly nourish our populations these days with such high demand for food that is mass produced. I watched a program once called “To the Last Drop – the end of suburbia” and it spoke of everyone turning their front and back yards in the cities into gardens. I like that idea a lot – and now imagine chickens and cows! grin. I feel like I would be returning to my childhood.

      • Gallivanta says:

        We certainly can produce a lot on a small section or in community gardens. There are proposals for food forests in areas of our city that can no longer support housing. However city soil can be contaminated from previous market garden use or dumps or even run off from roads….so it’s hard to be 100% sure about our food even if we grow it at home. 😦

      • inmycorner says:

        I know! That is the frustrating part about it… sigh. Mom’s meals will never be the same – we just don’t have the same ability. Our focus is so wrong in terms of progress – time to stand up and “wake-up” the world.

      • Gallivanta says:

        And give support to the local farmers who provide the food boxes. 🙂

  7. Janine Baines says:

    Well Stacey. As I told you I am a bit of a freak and continue to be. Have been for years. Do not use dishes except north American made or European. Very difficult to find especially often in small print it is made in China for Canada. I use plastic containers only made in canada or US. Most of my meat comes from the local butcher or from the Hittarite colony when I go home. I also eat venison and meats that my mom’s husbands family grows.
    Can most of my own fruit, peaches and pears, freeze blueberries grown locally. Jam is home made and gotta love maple syrup and honey. I grew a garden and sad to say is almost done except my kale. I go everything from food to makeup. Will talk about this again very soon about some of my weird tendencies . Love you xoxo. PS you always knew I was different. Lol. My girls laugh when they shop with me.

    • inmycorner says:

      I do love you, Janine – and rejoice in your uniqueness. I think you are totally on the right track. – I find this track very tiring today – one has to have time and energy to fight the supermarkets and modern food industry!

  8. Rita says:

    Well, you asked the question and though I was going to throw back a saucy, “Of course!,” I instead decided to look it up and you know what? You should be eating LOTS of arugula!

    “◾Salad rocket has an ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of anti-oxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.
    ◾Rocket salad is one of rich source of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and iso­thiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus help protect against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by virtue of their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.
    ◾In addition, di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid soluble metabolite of indole has immune modulator, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.” From: http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/arugula.html

    And …

    “•Arugula is a rich source of certain phytochemicals that have been shown to combat cancer-causing elements in the body.” From: http://www.fullcircle.com/goodfoodlife/2012/05/21/why-you-should-be-eating-more-arugula/

    AND

    Full nutrition details: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/3025/2

    So, arugula salad for dinner?

    • inmycorner says:

      Ha – yup. And it tastes good too. I have to figure out how to grow it – as I know the organic lettuce is better. I can’t eat raw foods right now as I have no immunity to fight the bacteria that may accompany raw food – but when this is finished I will have a great excuse to eat it everyday! Funny how such a little leaf can create such a different environment for the body. Thanks, Rita, for this information and your care and your on-going care and concern. It does make a difference.

  9. You’re so right. We are not only what we eat, but what they eat too.
    How are you feeling these days?

    • inmycorner says:

      I feel great – seriously -I am so blessed with no nausea or other major side-effects. Mental health is the most difficult to balance – but I know that is drug – related at this point. Thanks for asking! Good to have you on board for this journey, Cynthia!

      • Keep blogging. It’s likely helping you in some way.
        I read on Brad’s Writing to Freedom blog today that people who write regularly seem to handle trauma and illness better. I know your illness is serious, but your posts make a lot of good sense and show how strong a person you are.

      • inmycorner says:

        Oh – how I appreciate that note of informed optimism. Blessings! And yes, the blog helps – as it did for me to recover from the loss of my Dad. Thank-you, Cynthia!

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