Why Traditional Food?
Traditionally, cooking techniques were developed to bring out the best in foods, be it flavor, digestibility, or nutrient content. Our ancestors figured out the best way to use the resources available to them in their regions. As our species flourished and our society sped up, we, in our infinite cleverness, developed faster and "better" techniques for cultivating and preparing food. We created ways to make foods available faster and in greater abundance, to reduce cooking time and extend shelf life. I'm not mad at these innovators, not at all. Humans are so clever, I fall in love with the entire human race every time I think of the things we are capable of. But sometimes (AKA usually) we innovate so fast we don't stop to check the consequences.
In speeding up and modernizing our food handling, we lost something in translation. We lost the love and togetherness. We lost the peaceful, meditative act of preparing food. We lost the pride and sense of accomplishment in preparing something that took weeks or months. We lost patience. We lost appreciation. We lost all of those things. But we also lost health benefits. For example, science now recognizes the process by which traditional cultures prepare grains for consumption as important to making grains edible. Properly harvesting, soaking and sometimes sprouting grains removes the toxic nutrients the grain plant produces as a defense mechanism. It can also start the digestive process, beginning the breakdown of proteins that are hard for our digestive tract to handle. We are not cows, we were not designed with a complex system for eating grasses. Our ancestors intuitively, and probably through lengthy trial and error, figured out how to make grasses something we can survive on. Oh, the cleverness of us! We forgot that part when we started making more, bigger, faster, better. Modern processing makes grains "edible", but not healthy. So grains were soaked after harvest, and then ground into flour, and THEN fermented before baking. Viola, sourdough! Bread that you can digest. No celiac disease, no gluten intolerance, no leaky gut syndrome. Just beautiful, warm, crispy, moist and delicious bread.
That's one example of the superiority of traditional foods. Here's another:
Each region has their own traditional foods, and those foods developed into a staple of the diet for that culture for a reason! Every culture learned to use the foods that were available to them. Using local foods provides the best, freshest, and healthiest option for your body. Your body is adapted to your climate and your ecosystem and will thrive on the foods similarly adapted to your ecosystem. Specific bacteria have co-evolved with humans, others with plants, others with animals and so on. Those bacteria have a mutually beneficial relationship with your body. What bacteria are best for you? Probably the ones that have adapted to the climate and locale that your ancestors did!
Local foods are fresher and therefore more nutrient dense. The moment you pull it from the ground it starts losing nutrients. You want your food to hit your plate as soon after harvesting as you can.
Local and seasonal foods can even work with your body to help keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter!
When I travel, I love to find traditional foods in that area. I love to try new cultural, culinary content (sorry, the alliteration was just happening there). Explore traditional foods from your area. Explore traditional foods from your ancestral heritage. Also explore traditional foods when you travel. Somewhere in there you will find a diet your body thrives on and experiences that nourish your soul!