Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Real Food

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Several years ago, I picked up The Omnivore's Dilemma out of curiosity. Little did I know how shocked and dismayed I would be after learning the real history of food here in America. I implemented a few changes in my diet, filed away the rest of the information, and moved on.

Last year I finally decided to really attempt to change our diets, and little by little, have worked in new changes. It really is a struggle though. Where we live ( central Illinois) is dominated by large chain supermarkets, with a small health food store here and there. While I enjoy visiting them, the prices are totally cost prohibitive to us at this point.

So what can we do, as a family on a budget? The answer, for us has been to pick and choose. We can't go and buy everything 100% organic, but we can purchase differently. It has kind of been a transition to 'whole foods' more than anything. I started purchasing whole wheat flour and baking our own bread. Ideally we'd buy wheat berries and grind our own, but I've yet to find a decent grain mill that isn't outrageously expensive. Ideas, anyone?

We switched from margarine to olive oil and butter. I've heard many people singing the praises of coconut oil, but I'll admit I don't know much about it. No white tortillas, or pretty much white anything. We stopped purchasing white, refined sugar and have instead opted for Turbinado sugar and honey. I try to avoid artificial flavors and colors, but I'm not perfect on that yet. I haven't cut out all white flour, because some recipes really need some to come out correctly, so I've at least switched to unbleached in that department.

Call me naive, but I never realized how bad lunch meats really are, and I love a good turkey sandwich. We found one brand that has no artificial preservatives, nitrates being the main offender. Its a bit more expensive so we don't buy it as often, which is probably a good thing.

Beyond more conscientious shopping, we've simply quit eating out as often and cook at home. Sounds simple, but it helps enormously. When I make the meal, I can choose what goes into it. Most restaurant food is insanely unhealthy. Have you ever looked at the nutrition information from Chilis? I think I cried. My favorite 'salad' had more fat and calories than some of their fried stuff! So depressing. We still have an occasional meal out, but have really come to love cooking at home. Not to mention the savings! Even with buying healthier food, making it yourself is so much cheaper than a restaurant!

Its definitely a slow progression. We still buy supermarket meat, although in quantities not nearly as big as before. This year we'll be purchasing part of a local, grassfed cow, and part of a local hog. The farm from which we get our CSA sells chickens, so I'd like to get a few of those as well. On Craigslist yesterday I found a local guy selling an upright deep freeze and I think we're going to snag it up! That means I can freeze/can/preserve what we grow and actually have space for it. I don't really know what I'm doing, but there are so many great resources online that walk your through, step by step.

What do you think? Have you made any steps ( no matter how small) to move toward a more 'real' foods diet?

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