I just finished reading In Defense of Food: An Eaters Manifesto, by Michael Pollan, and it got me doing more than a little thinking. David and I have been doing big and little things over the past few years to move toward more ‘organic’ living – cleaning, eating, recycling, child rearing. When I think about food, though, I have typically approached it from the viewpoint of eating as much organic as possible and making healthy choices. Reading this book resulted in several observations:
1.) I go to the farmer’s market occasionally, knowing that it is a good idea to support local, sustainable markets but not really following through on that. We put a lot of money into buying organic foods at the grocery store, but we are not putting money into our local community.
2.) We go for a lot of quick and easy meals, and we don’t spend enough time in preparing and cooking our meals like we should. Since we don’t spend a lot of time making our meals, we (or at least, I) don’t spend enough time enjoying the meal we’re eating. I know that if I spend time selecting a meal, preparing it, and cooking it, I don’t want to eat it in 15 minutes. I want to take my time, enjoy my company, and feel like I enjoyed my meal.
3.) We strive to set good examples for Harrison, and it’s starting to send a mixed message when we are eating something we don’t want him to eat (potato chips, candy, soda). Plus, I have noticed that Harrison is more likely to try new foods or just eat, in general, when we are all enjoying a meal of the same food, together. This also forces us into the position of being more mindful and eating only foods that we are okay with Harrison eating.
4.) I love cooking and trying new recipes, and I do not do that as often as I use to. By buying only “whole” foods, it makes us put more thought into what we are making and exploring new ways of combining ingredients.
5.) We are wasteful. Our pantry and refrigerator are chalk full of items that I purchase with the best of intentions and then don’t get used, because, while I mostly buy items with meals in mind, I also buy because it’s an item we use and I think we should stock up. What generally happens, is that I don’t use these items and I end up throwing them out since they’ve hit their expiration date. This also happens because I don’t know what’s in the very back. This is an entirely different post (I recently cleaned out and reorganized my pantry).
6.) We eat out too much. We do this because we’re not satisfied with our options at home, but if I knew what all was in my refrigerator and pantry, and knew how different ingredients went together, we would cook more. This would be better for all of us, and be a huge help on the pocketbook.
7.) I feel guilty a lot about what I eat. Sometimes this is because I’m hard on myself about my eating habits, but I do not feel as guilty if I ate a banana and some almonds as opposed to eating popcorn and drinking soda. When I eat singular foods and know exactly what is in the food I’m eating, I am less inclined to regret that decision. Not to say I feel super about eating a piece of chocolate cake even if I made it.
So, what do those observations mean for us as a family. For one, we joined a CSA. We are splitting a large share with one of our neighbors, and starting in April until August, we will receive a box of organic, locally-grown produce to make our meals with. We will get an email the week prior letting us know what’s in the box, so we can plan our meals accordingly and we will even get some recipes to help. We also have access to several great farmer’s markets, including one in Wake Forest. There is a vendor there who sells meat from all grass-fed cows, using sustainable practices. We may end up buying the little meat we eat from him.
There were a few basic premises from In Defense of Food, that we will be implementing.
- Eat organic, eat local; eat local and organic whenever possible.
- If at the grocery store, shop the perimeters and stay away from the aisles as much as possible. If you must venture into those aisles, there are some guidelines: 1.)limit ingredients to 5 or fewer, and be able to pronounce them, 2.) no HFCS.
- Eat mostly plants, with some fish and poultry, and limit red meat
- Cook your meals and spend time with them (see #s 2-6)
So, what is the challenge part of this. Well, I’m not asking you to sign anything or make a pledge to me, but I do ask you to consider doing this for your family. I did not go in and eradicate everything that didn’t qualify. That would just continue the wastefulness. I am not giving it away to friends and neighbors (that would be patronizing). I’m just making David eat it all (just kidding). No, we will cook with it. We already stay away from HFCS and read ingredients, but we are guilty of a few processed foods. These will just be eaten in moderation until they dwindle away. I just hope it gets more people thinking about what they are putting into their bodies and being more mindful of how food is made and where it comes from.