A Year of Eating Real Food
On March 17th of last year, I shared our latest family decision of cutting out processed food, supplying a majority of our own produce from our kitchen garden, eating eggs from our own hens, seeking out pastured and local meats, and finding locally produced dairy that was minimally pasteurized. I am proud to say that a full year of eating this way has happened, and I think we made it out okay. If anything, we are all the healthier from it. There is still much to learn about this new way of seeking out and learning about food. I continue to read books like Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma, or Wendell Berry's The Unsettling of America. We watch documentaries on both sides of the argument: who is the culprit for the downfall of our country's health? It's a hard pill to swallow; it's easier to point fingers at whoever the bad guy is. But it's hard to pinpoint who the bad guy actually is. You know? Or why any of the hidden ingredients and closed doors about the food industry are happening at all.
Just the other day, we sat down after a long day of working on the farm and turned on Farmageddon, a documentary about farms that were shut down by the government.
As a family we all had varying opinions about it, and we all try to see this issue that our society faces from all sides. I think that's healthy; I try really hard not to put any conventional farmer down. Is it really their fault? Is it the government's? Is it just not fair that we as consumers do not have the right to decide what we want to eat, whether the USDA and FDA claim that it's healthy or unhealthy for us? It's like putting the raw milk debate out on the table: the USDA claims that raw milk is unsuitable for consumers to purchase because of health issues, yet we have scientific data to prove that raw milk is full of amazing health benefits... Just like a consumer has the right to consume junk food, knowing that it is bad for them, I would like to have the right to consume a raw food knowing the risk I am taking drinking it. It's an interesting dilemma. It's one of the reasons why I started our garden. It's now the reason that we own this farm. We get to grow our own food.
Has cutting out processed food changed us? In many ways! Most of you know that I use the word 'purist' quite often, and it is never in reference to our family. We are not purists. We still eat some processed food. We cheat, and then we feel terrible about it. There are days where I just want to make Tad chicken nuggets... thankfully he refuses to eat them and saves me some guilt. I don't bake bread every day, and I probably bake too many sweets instead. My jeans are definitely telling me that that is the answer! We are still learning. The summer and autumn were amazing; we ate like vegetable kings and queens. Now that winter is over, I need to be a little more diligent about digging into the freezer and using our preserved vegetables. We went through our canned tomatoes in about two months (that means August and September! Oops!). I feel like all of December and January we ate bread, cheese, soup, and beans. Over the past month, we've been purchasing organic fruit in bulk, and our wallets are unhappy with us. Even though we now consider ourselves small farmers, we were consumers first and still have to find ways to provide our family with fresh food. Winter was harder than all of the other months for sure.
But even with the cheating (I always ate terribly while we were traveling through the states to our shows) and the winter storage, there have been some amazing benefits. Like we don't really feel that exhausted anymore. Even though I wish I didn't have to wake up before the sunrise, it doesn't really hurt me to do so. Jill, Tad, and I all have lactose intolerance issues, and we can drink whole milk from Kalona SuperNatural because it's non-homogenized. It's been an entire year of drinking whole milk, which I have not had since I was about four! We've all decided that meat isn't really that great, and we eat a lot less of it. I debate back and forth between if I'd like to cut out dairy... I just can't do it! In the past year, not one of us went to the doctor except for physical injury. I mean - that's pretty unheard of! None of us caught the flu this past year; a couple of us had head colds but they were nipped in the butt. I recently became a Wellness Advocate for doTERRA and have been taking their On Guard® beadlets every time I feel a cold coming on, and it disappears within 24 hours. How amazing is that?
I've been trying to wait and see how Tad would react to eating this way. It's going to be easier for him; he's being raised on raw, whole foods. I think the biggest shocker for me is that he doesn't enjoy eating meat. It's always offered to him when we have it, but he'd rather eat fruit and some vegetables instead. Right now, he just really loves any kind of fruit and would eat only that if I let him. He eats vegetables without hesitation and reaches for things that are vibrant like carrots or fresh broccoli. I am really amazed!
I think the biggest lesson that we have learned is that when we do cheat, when we have a fast food burger or a soda or bag of potato chips... they just don't taste that great. The craving that we built up in our minds leads to disappointment. The flavor is off, and the meat tastes fake. I keep noticing that each time I would eat bread from the grocery store it tastes like cardboard. There is no depth there, no heart, no nutrition. I like the whole food better, even if it takes longer to get on my plate. But the truth is, all of that time that I spend thinking about making the food is what takes so long. Making food from scratch is not that time consuming once you get into the habit of doing it. It's just like doing laundry or cleaning up your home. You get into a rhythm. We enjoy it. We feel better. I hope we have another great year of learning and feeding ourselves with whole, real foods. This is just the beginning! I am hoping to share a few more posts soon with tips on where to locate food and how we now navigate traveling without eating out - we have finally found something that works!
Are you working on eating only whole foods, too? What are your best tips?