1. Don’t have rules. As much as these are ‘rules’, do what feels right for you. Throw it all out
sometimes and come back to it later. The key is balance, and everything in moderation. Having
a little bit of something here and there, like refined white flour, is okay. As a foundation, try
to eat a natural diet, 90% plants, 95% local, properly prepared, most of the time.
2. Start small and make the best choices you can. Change your routines slowly. Do what
you can, and don’t feel guilty if you slip up – be kind and don’t judge yourself. Just take
your time and do what feels right for you. If you crave something, eat it – it will probably
remind you of why you don’t eat it anymore. Give yourself time to learn, time for your
tastebuds to adjust, and to see how you feel – it is all part of the process.
3. Food should taste good. If it doesn’t taste good, it probably isn’t that good for you.
Well-produced food tastes so good that you don’t even have to do anything to it. You
have never tasted a tomato until you have tasted an heirloom tomato grown in amazing
soil, in the sunshine, in its natural growing season, plucked fully ripe straight from the
Most tomatoes purchased from our supermarkets or even from local producers – and
sometimes even at farmer’s markets – can be grown out of season in plastic hothouses; or be
genetically modified or a modern hybridised variety; or be grown in sand and fed a cocktail
of synthetic fertilisers; or be picked green to ripen later; or all of the above. This is not
a natural way to grow food, and it is questionable whether these foods give any real nutrition
at all. Additionally, they are absolutely incomparable in terms of flavour, and your body
doesn’t really recognise them or want to eat more. And understandably so.
4. Eat like every day is a celebration! The experiences, the mindfulness and the human
interactions that come with eating as if every day is a celebration bring you happiness, make
you choose better ingredients, and make you enjoy cooking all the more. Food is meant to
5. Share meals. Every recipe in this book is designed to be shared. There is something so
special and natural about sharing meals. You appreciate food more, eat more consciously,
and you are more inclined to cook from scratch. We feel that sharing mealtimes is innate;
it’s how we are meant to eat. You see it in children. They not only reach developmental
eating milestones by sharing mealtimes, but they also learn communication skills through
the experience of mealtime routines, watching others eat and sharing food.
6. Grow at least one ingredient. Touching soil and growing even just one thing will connect
you to how things are grown and forever change the way you see food.
7. Experience your food, or get close to someone who does. Observe the seasons and
grow, gather and nurture what you can. If you don’t, be sure to source produce as close to
where you live as possible and as directly as you can. You don’t have to buy directly from
a farmer every time, but if you can, do – and better yet, trade.
8. Cook from scratch as much as possible. Try to avoid packaged foods and cook from
scratch when you can – it’s always better for you. You will be cooking using wholefood
ingredients, and you will start to understand food better.
9. Routines make food quick and easy. Everyone is searching for the ultimate quick and-
easy meal. This is it. If throughout the week you soak some beans and grains, such
as chickpeas, lentils or brown rice, and make a staple food (e.g. pizza bases), your kitchen
will soon be full of quick-and-easy meals, and your diet will be full of nutrient-rich, well prepared foods.
10. Buy it unrefined. What does it look like when it comes straight from nature? If you look
at a product and can’t make a connection with the original food, you probably shouldn’t eat
it. Glossy white sugar is worlds away from the dark green juice that comes out of sugarcane,
and we’ve never seen a white field of wheat. Keep these as ‘sometimes foods’.
11. Buy local, seasonal produce that has been grown in the sunshine. Just because it’s
local doesn’t always mean it’s seasonal, and just because it’s seasonal doesn’t always mean
it’s local. You can buy things grown locally in hothouses that are way out of season, and you
can also buy things that are in season but may be imported from far away. Be aware of both.
12. Buy well-produced food. Not everything has to be certified. We’ve found that many
natural, organic farmers aren’t. Either because they can’t afford it, or because they don’t
believe in a certification that allow all kinds of things they would never use on their farms.
Get to know your farmers and find out what they use – a conversation is better than any
certification. If you can’t talk to them, look for words like pastured, local, chemical-free,
organic and biodynamic.
13. If something seems unnatural, it probably is. For example, if buying cheese or milk off
the shelf (rather than the refrigerated section) seems unnatural, that’s because it is.
14. No GMO. Stay away from genetically modified foods; we just don’t know what they do to
our bodies. Our ancestors didn’t eat them, and our bodies just don’t know them.
15. Don’t be scared of natural animal fats. Fats from pastured animals – butter, ghee and
lard, as well as in meat and whole dairy – are very stable forms of saturated and unsaturated
fats, with vitamins and minerals that you can’t get anywhere else. These fats weren’t feared in
traditional diets, and things like heart disease were very rare.
Diets with a balanced amount of animal fat are key to some of the longest-lived populations, such as in Japan, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and France. They help to maintain the proper function of cell membranes and our immune systems, they protect our organs, and allow us to absorb nutrients and minerals that cannot otherwise be absorbed. Steer clear of ‘fat-free’ products, as they have been heavily processed and the nutrients have been removed.
Additionally, avoid unnatural fats, like refined vegetable oils (canola, soybean, safflower etc.) and margarine. These polyunsaturated and trans fats are totally different fats that our bodies don’t recognise and can’t process. They are highly processed and heat-treated and are generally closer to plastics than they are to food.
Try some of Matt and Lentil’s recipes below
Extracted from Grown & Gathered by Matt & Lentil Purbrick. Available now, Plum, RRP $45.