Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Thoughts about FOOD!

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  The colors are beautiful and the weather is just right.

Growing up, late summer and fall meant harvest.  It was the time of year when we spent countless hours picking vegetables in our garden and storing them up for winter.  My grandmother always had a giant garden and I can remember helping her to snap beans, shuck corn, and prepare cabbage for kraut.  My parents continued this trend and often we'd go weeks at a time without a trip to the grocery (we raised our own meat, purchased eggs and homemade butter from my grandmother).  I miss that!

Dan and I have missed these things about our childhood since we both left home.  It's been hard to get back to that lifestyle with all our traveling and apartment living, but now, we have our own home!  We now have our own garden to grow our very own fruits and vegetables and hopefully learn more about storing this produce for winter.  We are lucky to have been raised in families that value good real food, and are eager to get back to our roots.

Eating healthy is very important to us.  As we sit down for dinner we often marvel over the lack of vegetables, or color in our diet.  This doesn't happen often as we rarely eat a meal together with our schedules, but the flip side of that is that we're often eating alone and cooking heavily processed boxed or canned foods.  We know that what we're eating is probably not the greatest for us - but lets be honest, it sure does taste good!

Over the past few years, the author Michael Pollan has become somewhat of an expert on the American food industry and has written some very reader-friendly guides to help the average American understand where our food comes from.  Though I've read it before, I decided to pick up "In Defense of Food" again.  In this book, Michael Pollan answers the question of what we should be eating in three simple phrases...

Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants.

What I'm learning is that now that we can be in control of what we eat, we should be!  Over the past few years I've used my somewhat nomadic lifestyle as an excuse to not eat right.

I don't have the time.  I don't have the money.  I don't have a garden.  I don't know how.  I don't have a kitchen. I can't find the right food.  I don't like that kind of food...etc.

These excuses controlled what I ate, not the reality of what I had access to.  To be honest, living in Taiwan, though without a kitchen and having to eat out nearly every meal, we were probably exposed to far fewer processed foods!  These processed foods are the foods that line our grocery isles and clip our coupons for.  You don't often see a coupon for fresh produce or whole grain baking supplies!  One of Michael Pollan's points in his book is that these processed foods aren't really food, they're man-made, genetically altered replacements that we have somehow come to believe are better for us than the real thing.

Knowing this makes it really hard to head to the grocery and buy a whole bunch of junk.  So, Dan and I have decided to make a conscious effort NOT to!  We know it'll be a challenge, as much of what stocks our pantry is making the "list"(the list includes those items we are no longer aloud to buy!).  This list will hopefully be replaced by more healthy alternatives.  In my research, I stumbled upon a website that I think will aide in supporting our new goal.  100 Days of Real Food chronicles the day to day eating of a family of four who cut processed food completely out of their diet for 100 days.  They have links to recipes and resources as well as meal plans and educational guides.  If you're ready (and we're not just yet) you can sign up for their 10 Day Real Food Pledge.

We know it's not going to be easy, and we're not trying to be crazy about our food choices - there will be the occasional chocolate craving!  =)  But what can it hurt!?  Over the coming months we hope to wean ourselves off of those processed foods that we eat most often and replace them with more healthy choices.  As we head into the new year we hope to start fresh and begin our journey into the real food world.

This weekend, Dan's parents were visiting and we spent much of our time outside enjoying the weather.  We nearly doubled our garden with some bricks we found around the property.  We planted a variety of raspberries from my father-in-law's garden and some flower bulbs I had from the spring.  This will hopefully help us to grow more of the food we eat next summer  and allow us to put up with real food for winter.  We're also hoping to get some chickens next spring and begin raising our own eggs.  We already buy our meat from my parents farm raised beef cattle and free-range chickens, and hope to swap produce with friends and family as we have it available.

We've nearly doubled our growing space and begun to prepare the soil for next spring with some mulch from our backyard.  Also, we constructed a compost bin by recycling some old pallets.
Here are some more resources if you're interested in learning more about your food choices.  It pays to be informed!

Michael Pollan - author devoted to nature and culture
Food Inc. - documentary about the food industry
100 Days of Real Food - great resource for real food options and recipes
No BS Nutrition - a high school friend who's passionate about nutrition and exercise
 - registered dietitian's blog about food and nutrition.
Polyface Farms - featured in Food Inc. Joel Salatin and his family share about their farming and animal raising practices
Mother's Against Junk Dining - pdf of an article written featuring the author behind 100 Days of Real Food and two other mothers on a quest to feed their families good real food.

Please feel free to comment and share other resources you may know of as I'm eager to learn all I can about the food I'm consuming on a day to day basis...because, well, we've all gotta eat!!

Until next time...


  1. I read that book last summer. Very eye opening! Alicia silverstone has a good book as well, The Kind Life

  2. Have you read any of his other books?