“We’ve become addicted to convenience at the expense of our health,” said Nick Barnard. It’s a grave statement but absolute truth and evident all around us, every day, especially here in Alabama, where chronic health issues like childhood obesity and type II diabetes are nearing epidemic status. The author of the just-released cookbook/guidebook “Eat Right: Traditional Food Wisdom to Sustain Us Today” shared this and other thoughts at a recent “book-launch” dinner in Auburn at Acre restaurant.
Served “family supper” style, the event was a feast of fun, fellowship and delicious dishes with ingredients sourced from nearby farms and producers, items like fresh and pickled veggies (some from Acre’s on-site garden), homemade sausages, sprouted grain salad, sustainably farmed catfish and more. But its purpose was somewhat serious. It offered Barnard the opportunity to spread an important message, the same message that’s foundational to his book, that is, simply put: When you eat right, you feel wonderful and stay “brilliant.” The book delves deep, offering Barnard’s well researched and thoughtful insight into how and why we’ve abandoned the food knowledge of our ancestors and why and how we ought to return to it.
It all began when he founded his London, England-based company, Rude Health, in 2005. For Americans the term “rude” may be a bit off-putting, but in addition to the meaning we’re most familiar with, in Britain, rude means to “be up for life.” And that’s the opportunity Rude Health gives its customers by producing completely natural, highly nourishing oatmeals, cereals, granolas, drinks, snacks and more.
So what brought Barnard to the Deep South? Alabama’s own To Your Health Sprouted Flour (TYH). The company’s founder, Peggy Sutton, befriended Barnard at a conference, and the two quickly learned they had a lot of common ground. The company, based in Fitzpatrick, Ala., produces flours from organic sprouted grains as well as other sprouted products. Sprouted grains have been allowed to begin germinating just like Mother Nature intended, and when they “sprout,” the dormant vitamins and minerals in each grain are unlocked, making the grains themselves, and the flours produced from them, more nutritious than conventional flours. Through TYH, Barnard met Chef Ban Stewart, the chef at Kowaliga restaurant on Lake Martin, and they also bonded over a shared interest in seasonal, local, wholesome foods.
Chef Ban got his friend, Chef David Bancroft, chef and owner of Acre, involved, and the three teamed up for the book-launch dinner. Chef Ban’s and Barnard’s food philosophies are simpatico with Bancroft’s, and Barnard called Acre a “regenerative restaurant,” an eatery with an understating of what the oft-overused phrase “farm to fork” truly means and a place that, thanks to Chef Bancroft’s commitment to cooking with local, seasonal ingredients, is encouraging area farmers to go back to the old ways and employ more sustainable practices.
It’s not something Barnard sees in all chefs by any means. “As chefs have risen to become celebrities, there has been a disassociation from he kitchen,” he said. “Many of them are not producing anything you would make at home. But there are places, and I see it a lot in the South, where chefs like Ban and David are looking at simpler presentations with an emphasis on the ingredients, realizing that real flavor comes from freshness, and that is pushing a return to regenerative farming.”
But Barnard is mostly interested in what you eat at home, in your daily life. His book is a beautiful, easy-to-follow guide packed with valuable information and related recipes and techniques that prove you can have both flavor and nutrition. It is his hope that “Eat Right” wakes people up. “We can’t ignore nutrition any longer. We need to walk away from the cheap, ‘fast,’ processed foods that are robbing us of our well being and retrain our minds and bodies to crave the things that we need to live healthy, happy lives.”
Grab a copy of “Eat Right” to learn how you can start taking charge of your health by changing your approach to food.