Monday, August 06, 2012

what is wholefood anyway?

The word 'wholefood' conjures up a comical image for me, of a person attempting to put an apple or carrot or banana in their mouth - whole. Well, of course that is not what defines wholefood.

Wholefood is food that is unprocessed and unrefined, it is fully in tact or close to being fully in tact, as it is found in nature containing all of its naturally occurring goodness in the form of vitamins, minerals and fibre.

Wholefood does not necessarily mean organically grown. All fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, fish, meat, eggs and non-homogenised dairy foods, conventionally farmed or organically grown, are wholefoods. Pete and I choose to only have organically grown food, for us and our boys, because we do not want to ingest chemicals and prefer to eat foods that have been grown in organically rich soil. Friends say, "But it is so expensive to only buy organic" to that I say, it is a question of priorities and values. Organic food is what we spend our money on over expensive haircuts, latest model cars, up to the minute fashion and so on. Sure, there are material things that I like but I am really health conscious and through Pete's environmental work I have become even more environmentally conscious and believe organic farming is best for people and planet.

For us, eating wholefoods is about more than the just foods we eat. It is a way of life, a philosophy, an attitude. We grow some of our food, the fruit and vegetables that we buy are bought at a farmgate from people we know by name, we are part of our local food co-op where we buy our grains and legumes, we have a local goats farm and cheesery we buy their cheese, we enjoy chatting to the naturopaths at our local health food shop, we do not follow a particular religion but we say a blessing with our children each night before we eat our dinner giving thanks for our food, for the people who grew it and the earth from which it came.

In the times that we live in, where many people are 'time poor' and stressed, consumption of 'convenience' foods has increased. Convenience foods are not wholefoods, they are processed to reduce the amount of cooking time required and often contain high amounts of sugar, salt and saturated fat. These foods are filling but they are not nourishing. With the increased consumption of these sorts of foods, so too has the incidence of dietary related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and some forms of cancer risen.

In her cookbook WholefoodAustralian wholefood chef, cooking teacher and cookbook author Jude Blereau writes:

"Processed and refined ingredients are fundamentally, incompatible with our bodies." p.20 (Murdoch Books, Australia, 2006)

I think it is true to say the majority of people want to be healthy and happy. I think it is also true to say that the majority of people underestimate the impact of the food they eat on their physical, mental and emotional health and that the challenge for people in developed countries where there is an oversupply of processed food and powerful advertising to sell it, the challenge for people is to find and follow their own path to nutrition and wellness through the food they choose to eat.

If you are just starting out making changes to the foods you and your family eat, yay for you and welcome to this space I hope it is helpful. I believe every person's path with food is an evolving one and my aim in this space is to create a supportive community of people interested in wholefood living and health to share thoughts, experiences and tips to make the journey rich and fun.

One of the best places to start learning about wholefoods and wholefood cooking, besides online, is books. I have already mentioned Jude Blereau who had written three fantastic wholefood cookbooks with a fourth due for release next year, I highly recommend Jude's books for their excellent information from setting up a wholefood pantry to cooking techniques and of course wonderful recipes.

Possibly the most comprehensive book written on wholefoods and health is Paul Pitchford's, Healing with Wholefoods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. If you really want to delve deep on this topic seek this book out. I love the way Paul writes about wholefoods as a 'biologic remedy', this is from his website: 

"There is a near-consensus among health authorities that whole, unrefined foods represent a fundamental truth in support of individual health and well-being. The whole foods movement is a common sense approach that is quietly extending through all economies and social classes to overcome the madness resulting from highly processed, refined, genetically modified, and synthetic (non-) foods that have turned modern societies into centers of degenerative disease. At the end of the day, wholesome foods are destined to be a biologic remedy that, in concert with organic farming and plant medicine, has the capacity to heal the Earth and her peoples."

Thanks for reading. This was a lengthy one. I'll finish by inviting you to sign up for emails, leave a comment, share where you are at, or what you would like to read more of here. The Wholefood Mama community is growing and I am looking forward to writing more and hopefully converting more and more people to the wholefood, whole health way of life. Happy Monday x


  1. Such a fantastic post Nikki and full of great information for those starting out on a great journey to a healthy life. I started when I signed up for Heather's Wholefood Workshop and throughly enjoyed it. Since then I have continued to try and choose recipes that contain wholefoods rather than processed ones. We eat only organic and although there is a cost involved and yes we are fortunate enough to be able to afford it, I see it as an investment in our future health. I would rather pay the money now than pay the price later with my health. I would love for you to share more recipes in this space, I always like to try a new one and expand our food experience. xx

    1. Thanks Catherine, I'm really glad to hear you enjoyed this post and always great to 'meet' others who have similar food philosophy. I wholeheartedly agree about investing in health now. Many people wait until they get sick to improve their diet, to that I say why wait?! You've inspired me to look further into Heather's Wholefood Workshop, I had looked at it before but always good to get a recommendation.
      More recipes included here it is! xx


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