Our Personal Eating Research Project

The Main Idea:  During the seventeen years I taught high school chemistry, I often joked that I could have taught a lot of it in a kitchen. Well, everything except the explosions. My students, though, were fascinated (at least they said they were!) to learn what was behind food labels and connect the chemistry with their health. Thanks to the students at the Honolulu Waldorf School for their wonderful questions over all those years.

The Body as a Research Project.

Every day we conduct biochemical research on our own bodies. Most of the time, though, we don’t collect data. Rather, we eat and run and hope it’s healthy, struggle to decide about low-fat or low-carb, or eat what’s handy. In our earliest years we trust others to do the shopping, cooking and feeding. Our organs and enzymes faithfully process what we eat and provide us with the energy and nutrients in the food, and will do so until they get worn out with age or illness. But we can always work to become more conscious of how we are feeling after we eat certain foods, to learn about why this is so, and to choose to change or not.

Why the name un-chemical? Often people will tell me they don’t eat any chemicals, but this is actually impossible. Food is a set of chemicals – which is why the field of “food chemistry” exists, and covers everything from basic carbohydrate, protein and fats to vitamins, probiotics and pros and cons of GMO technology. If we take time to understand the chemistry we can gain some control over it and avoid the refined and toxic chemicals that may be part of the food available to us.

Some food metabolism is well understood, but how to apply it is under great debate. Witness the number of nutrition blogs, weight loss websites and diets! There are passionate advocates of vegetarianism, raw foods, paleo diets, pH diets and everything in between. If you are here, maybe you wonder if they have anything in common, or how to start simply in changing how you eat. Each issue of this blog will contain one or two diet resources, the chemistry behind an issue, a recipe that puts it into practice, and some reading to pursue.