But What is it Made of??


These days, I find myself relating to others more and more in the struggle to simply stay alive and in some kind of good-enough shape that will enable me to fulfill the purpose the Lord intended when He made me. Within this struggle, however, is the acknowledgement and appreciation for the purpose and gifts God has bestowed on each of us. In addition to purpose, He graces us with things we experience joy in doing. 
My personal joy is that of food. I am well aware that in some circles, the scope of what I am willing to eat and able to create may not be considered broad, but I REALLY enjoy the foods that fall within my spectrum. However, my enjoyment, combined with genetics/cultural epicurean proclivities and a somewhat addictive personality, have resulted in an unfortunate plot twist consisting of a health condition I am trying to improve with dietary changes and exercise.
So what did I do? I went to the World Wide Web to research ways to better my diet. What I found was disappointing and surprisingly unoriginal. From, "Just eat vegetables", to "don't even look at an animal, or anything that comes from one!", and even, "Eat like a lion!". Who knew that being healthy would be complicated and confusing? And quite honestly…boring.
So, after considering information from the available sources and experts, self-appointed and otherwise, I have settled on my own, VERY unscientific, fairly self-serving conclusion, based on the following:
  • Eating is critical in our overall design. There is a benefit in the act of masticating that is not replicable with pills, juices, or intravenous nutrition. 
  • My food preferences change depending on the day. Or the hour. Or the weather. You get the idea. 
  • It seems that no one KNOWS whether one type of food group is absolutely and always better than another. In true experimental fashion, dietary recommendations and their outcomes have evolved as the overall body of knowledge about nutrition and health changes over time. 
  • Human bodies appear to derive some value (nutritional, medicinal, psychological) from most natural products and, in the case of edibles, the value is inversely proportional to
    • 1) The time span between the food in its natural state to consumption, (Ex: more nutrition from a just-picked tomato vs. a tomato that has been sitting in the store 2 days after it was shipped 1,800 miles), and
    • 2) The amount of change a food product undergoes from its original state, (Ex: a spoonful of a baked potato has more nutritional value than a slice of a potato that has been processed into a potato chip). Clearly there are other factors, but I’m focusing on these.
Armed with these biases, I set out to construct my customized diet to hit my goal of living.
I am a root cause person; when there’s a problem, I need to trace it to its origin and apply my changes. In this instance, I've determined that one root cause is the quality of foods I eat. I’m not particular to fast food, nor do I like soda or chips, with rare exceptions. I do have my favorite restaurants, and tend to binge on certain foods from time to time.
For example, in Southern California, I have a favorite purveyor of Mexican food, where I can get five rolled tacos with guacamole for $5.99. The issue is that I don't have them once, or even a couple of times…I go on a rolled taco bender for the next seven days. The same goes for my preferred honey walnut shrimp dish, Filipino barbecue, menudo with white rice, Cheesecake Factory carrot cake, and on and on. Not only is this poor stewardship of money, I also have no idea what’s going into these foods or the quality of their ingredients, and I’m eating them.
After a few years of the same cycle, I knew I had a problem. I went through a quasi-12-step process (give or take a few steps) over this food thing, and finally acknowledged the fact that I need to begin by consuming foods with the highest nutritional value I can reasonably afford. Things took a dark turn when I went down the rabbit hole of Big Agriculture, which, to oversimplify in a very unfair manner, explores the topic of abandonment of food quality in pursuit of profit or agenda. This was a fascinating find for me, mainly because in my OTHER line of work, data analysis and quality improvement in healthcare, one of my resolute (though not absolute) beliefs is that volume and quality can, though not always, be inversely proportional. In the case of scaling up to chase the dollar, quality is at risk of suffering. 
By this time, I’m more paranoid than Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory, convinced that every vegetable and meat producer is out to kill me. Then I stumbled upon a video of Joel Salatin, of Polyface Farms, giving an address to Hillsdale College (watch it here) on the topic of food supply chains, respect for the plants and animals that feed us, healing the land, etc.
This made sense to me. So, now, I’m looking at the regenerative and sustainable agriculture industry and liking more of what I’m learning: the big ideas being 1) small batch, 2) local, and 3) a simple quality management system.
These ideas are very consistent with the foundation of my company, Tayo. Whereas, we founded this company with an eye toward good, healthy, ACCESSIBLE food, as well as community and relationship-building, we are also leaving a lot of room for evolution and sustainable growth. I feel like Tayo’s roadmap is slowly becoming clear in terms of making good, clean food the norm for all people, rather than the exception. To do this we will take steps to learn more, participate more, and give more.

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