“I like rice. Rice is great if you’re hungry and want 2000 of something.”
I have a theory about Starchy Carbohydrates. It’s in no way representative of any current research out there, it’s just something I’ve been bouncing around and thought I would share with you.
Before I go any further, let me explain what I mean by “Starchy Carbohydrate.” I mean all grains, breads, pastas, rice, beans, potatoes, things made from corn, and basically any version of a vegetable or grain that sucks to eat raw. If you have to cook it to make it taste good/be edible in the first place (wheat, barley, rye, beans, etc) than it is probably a starchy carbohydrate.
So here’s my theory: I believe that starchy carbohydrates are “poor people food.”
I don’t mean that as an insult. Potatoes kept all of Ireland from starving for thousands of years, and when Italy didn’t have fresh (expensive) meats or vegetables available, pasta was a valuable stand-in energy source. It’s also certainly no coincidence that in the 2 highest population countries on earth (China and India), rice is king.
But here’s the thing… we’re not starving anymore. In fact, we live in the richest country in the world, in an era where foods are being flown all around the globe to make sure that we can have whatever kind of foods we want, during whatever season we want them. So I think the days of the carbohydrates-as-fuel should be over! In fact, they never should have been allowed to permeate our current diet. Once we realized the Depression was over, instead of hoarding our plastic trinkets and pouring resources into creating some of the world’s longest-shelf-life “foods,” we should have been slowly reintroducing whole proteins and fats as our main food source, and creating a high demand for them.
There are no excuses anymore, as a culture, to be eating the foods that essentially were invented and intended to keep a poverty stricken lower class from dying of starvation during hard times. It was genius, but it’s no longer necessary. Let’s start eating like the rich-ass people we are. Even our lower-middle class, during a shitty economy, is rich by most of the world’s standards.
Now there are exceptions. I understand that there are parts of the US that can’t afford nice expensive “Rich People” foods like meat, fish, dairy, and fruits and veggies. Understandable.
While I think it totally sucks that we have a society in which chemically processed and nutrient-starved foods are sold EVERYWHERE for DIRT CHEAP (lessening the demand for real foods in those areas) I cant do anything about that at the moment. If it came down to feeding my family pasta and canned beans, or not feeding my family at all, I would of course choose the starchy meal. But for the vast majority of the US to whom I’m speaking, there are simply no excuses. (I’m extending a free pass here to all the college kids who are living on Ramen Soup and Spagettios… I’ve been there, Amen.)
Think about all the different cultures who use starches as their main ingredient in most typical dishes. Noodles, pasta, rice, pitas, beans, and/or bread are the main attraction is just about every food culture I can think of. We are steeped in the tradition and history of being impoverished, and now that cultural awareness and access to different types of food has become more wide-spead, we are just re-affirming the idea that these types of food are important.
The fact is however, that these foods are NOT important. In fact, we do not need carbohydrates. They have absolutely no essential place in our diet, unlike proteins or fats, without which we become malnourished, disfunctional, and sick. There are amino acids in proteins and fatty acids in fats that our bodies actually require to function. We can, however, get ALL our nececcsary calories/energy from those 2 sources, and have no actual requirement for any type of carbohydrate. That doesn’t mean I’m anti-carbohydrate, because I’m very pro-vegetables and whole fruits/foods with fiber, but it’s an important distinction. It basically backs up my theory that carbohydrates are back-up fuel. They’re a STAND-IN source of energy, valuable during times of scarcity and poverty.
(In an effort to avoid nasty comments, I’ll add a disclaimer here, that carbohydrates can be extremely useful, especially during periods of hard training, as fuel before/during/after the workouts, as well as first thing in the morning. I’m simply pointing out that our American diet is based on a cultural tradition of being poor. Which is certainly no longer the case.)
Now, I live in NYC, so I have pretty much whatever I want available to me at any time of day or night. I can get octopus, caviar, goose eggs, ostrich meat, pickled pigs feet, crocodile liver or whatever, without too much trouble. I know that not all areas are so fortunate. But I also know you can probably buy fresh beef, salmon, eggs, milk, nuts, fruits, and veggies where you are.
So that’s it. I submit to you that while starches are completely amazing when it comes to life-sustenence in hard times, they are entirely unremarkable in an era where we can go to a gas station and buy eggs or beef jerky. So let’s start acting like the world’s richest country. Be snobby about your diet. Start prioritizing the healthy foods you buy as a necessary expense, and if you’ve been broke a long time (as I have), let your diet reflect your steady increase in wealth. Kick the poor-people foods to the curb as soon as possible, and start eating like you’re rich.