Ammi Midstokke: Over-complicating Health with Fancy Food

It’s kind of my job to eat weird things. Thankfully, there’s a market for making weird things super trendy by putting them in hipster packaging, adding some form of sugar, and referring to it as “paleolithic.” Most of the time I think it tastes exactly what baking would have tasted like had a bunch of dread-locked women in a cave tried to make chocolate bark.

At the Ancestral Health Symposium in Bozeman this July, I take the plunge and eat a cricket cookie. “30 entire crickets!” exclaims the packaging. They must have been small crickets. I am testing all the cool new supplements, foodie cures, and anything that says “bison” on it. As far as I can tell, there’s a bottled solution here for every health ailment one might conceive.

I watch Ben Greenfield try to pour himself a matcha. Something goes wrong and the matcha keeps flowing, but Ben has taken more noortropic supplements than most medical professionals would recommend, so he thinks fast and grabs a trash can before the floor gets covered in creamy green tea. Then he wanders off with his fanny pack to sign books—including the one he gave me.

“What do you even keep in that thing?” I ask. He starts unloading it. There’s stevia, dental floss, and pretty much all the ingredients I keep in my own purse—except maybe lip gloss. I don’t keep lip gloss in mine. I had watched his talk on longevity. He’s writing a new book on the matter. If you haven’t read his last book, I highly recommend it. He saves you millions of dollars and hours by donating his body to his own scientific experiments, then telling you how to achieve the same results with blueberries and lion’s mane mushrooms. It’s good to see he’s human and spills his tea, too.

I wander from stand to stand at this conference, listening to the sales pitch of every product. There is a lot of collagen. There is collagen in coconut creamer. There is collagen in green tea. There’s collagen with turmeric, collagen with chocolate, collagen drinks, bites, bars. It makes sense, considering most of the tissue in the human body is held together by collagen.

In fact, studies show collagen consumption has a positive impact on everything from nail and hair health to treatment of gastrointestinal disorders. It can reduce pain and inflammation in joints and is used in arthritis therapies. It’s an easy-to-absorb form of protein that you can put in anything (including your coffee, which I am now doing because I also read several studies that say it reduces cellulite, and what girl doesn’t hope for that?). Also, it’s in bone broth, so you can just eat lots of homemade soup if you want.

Between cricket protein, collagen powders, and neurotransmission enhancing compounds, we should be able to supplement our way to perfect health, stellar athletic performance, and perhaps even immortality. As far as I can tell though, none of these solutions-in-a-bottle come even close to replacing the most effective means of sustainable health: eating well and living the good life.

No pill reduces your stress load, makes up for lost sleep, cleanses you of the chemicals from bucket mix margaritas, equates to an hour outdoors, or lubricates your joints like water. Also notice: All of those things most beneficial and necessary to our health are pretty much free. You can get a lot of bang for your buck with some good supplements, or a lot of green protein from an overpriced cricket cookie.

Or you could just make a wicked salad and take an afternoon nap in a hammock. Sometimes health and vitality just aren’t that complicated. //


Ammi Midstokke is a nutritionist and writer in Sandpoint, Idaho. When she isn’t lost in the mountains, she’s saving lives with vegetables. In June she wrote about easy meal solutions that mostly involved mayonnaise, though she has yet to find a collagen mayonnaise product.


[Feature photo: Salad: the original health food. // Shallan Knowles]


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