We’re very honored to have a guest post from Shannon of Nourishing Days today. She’s a definite real food inspiration, and I think you’ll love reading about her journey, and maybe even relate to it a little.

I have a theory about real food: people are either born into it or they find it out of illness and desperation. I fall into the latter category.

I grew up eating your typical standard American diet (SAD). There was a lot of sugar, skipped breakfasts, a ton of processed food, and did I mention a lot of sugar?

Not surprisingly, I was sick a lot. Every winter I came down with severe colds, bronchitis and pneumonia. I never knew what it was like to feel well.

I was overweight from the age of 6 or so. While I played sports and enjoyed being active, I was never at a healthy weight. My last year of high school I became so frustrated with my weight issues that I tried everything to shed pounds.

Some of my efforts were good – like exercising more and just being aware of what I was putting into my mouth. Others were much more harmful – like drinking diet soda, taking “diet” pills and not eating at all. I never went as far as anorexia or bulemia, but my unhealthy relationship with food continued. I no longer ate for comfort, but now I was terrified to eat anything. Food was the enemy, so I thought, and eating as little as possible was the goal.

When I went away to college that thought process continued. I gained and lost weight over the course of those four years. One of those years was spent in nearly constant pain as I struggled with a diet and stress-induced digestive disorder. I eventually lost some weight by keeping my calories below 1800 and playing competetive volleyball. There was a lot of aspartame, soy milk, and whole wheat bread, but not a lot of nourishment.

In the summer of 2005 I graduated from college, got married and moved all in 30 days time. It was wonderful, exciting and life-altering. I was working only part-time and spent the rest of my time learning to cook. We were eating whole grains, cutting out high fructose corn syrup, MSG and most packaged food. I only bought low-fat foods and made sure replace half of my butter with vegetable oil to avoid saturated fat. I was so misinformed.

Days after his birth I came down with an infection, which I had apparently been harboring due to underlying health issues. I then struggled to make enough milk for my son. Lactation consultants, non-stop feedings and pumpings, and countless herbs later I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism. I later found out that all of the soy I had previously eaten was a common cause of thyroid problems.

Photo by Dale Gillard

Why do we think we can approve upon His work?

The next time I bought yogurt for our smoothies it was plain and full-fat . That one item symbolized the start of a change in the way I thought about food. And over the past five years I have come to realize that the debacle of our current food system is just one piece in a very ungodly, unsustainable system.

Every dollar we spend, every store we visit, every day we choose a certain lifestyle we are voting. Who will we support? Should we live in a way that demands foreign oil? Is your lifestyle so important that you are willing to send a loved one to war to sustain it? Should we be more responsible for our own food production?

I believe that real food is common sense. It won’t make a CEO rich, but it will nourish our children. I may have come to real food out of illness and desperation, but I want our children to be nourished with raw milk, homegrown foods, and a knowledge of where their food comes from.

Stay tuned, as we give away a copy of Shannon’s wonderful new cookbook, Simple Food {for winter} on Friday!