our food Journey:
One of my friends recently tuned me into an interesting blog called Homestead Revival. It’s largely about “food journeys” — working to make healthier choices in how we eat.
So I’ll take J as an opportunity to tell the story of our food journey so far.
I’ve pretty much always been wary of artificial foods — seemed to me that butter was surely better than margarine (certainly tasted better), for example, sugar better than artificial sweeteners, whipped cream better than cool whip, and anything made from scratch better than anything from a package. But I didn’t know very much about it all — it was just preference and a hunch.
One time at my in-laws I was glancing through a cookbook with a pretty cover (four? five? years ago) with long chapters of text, lots of quotations and anecdotes in the margins, plus the recipes, and mostly found everything politically strident and hard to believe, but some of it intriguing and likely — things like making stock from meat, bones, and vegetables. The book was Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, a proponent of dentist Weston Price’s ideas about diet, based on his observations of a variety of traditional cultures with strong bones and teeth.
Several things especially struck me.
First, that sugar is not much more natural than high fructose corn syrup and perhaps just minimally better than other artificial sweeteners. Raw honey and pure maple syrup are better alternatives.
Second, that vegetable oils are not automatically better than animal fats. What matters is not the amount of fat, nor necessarily the saturation of the fat, but the portions and the balance and the methods of use. Hydrogenation creates trans fats — fats that are improperly shaped for our bodies to use. Animal fats are better for frying because they don’t go bad or burn at high temperatures, and at high temperatures fried food absorbs much less of the fat. And so on.
So we started making some changes and reading further. Here’s where we are at the moment:
No more margarine.
More honey (not raw yet) and maple syrup (not sure how pure the grocery store stuff is — how it is processed).
Occasional brown rice. Haven’t found one yet that we both like as much as white rice.
Making stock from roast chicken carcasses after eating most of the meat.
Making our own pasta sauce — but still using canned tomato products.
Making our own bread — mostly whole wheat, and sourdough half the time, from homegrown starter.
Local beef that is grass-fed for most of its life then grain-finished.
Soon, local free range eggs.
We grow a garden — this year’s my most ambitious so far.
What I’d still like to do:
Pastured chicken and pork, and 100% pastured beef.
Pastured dairy, perhaps even raw; especially butter.
Raw honey and research the maple syrup.
Experiment more with soaking, sprouting, and fermenting. (We tried some fermenting a few years ago with yucky results, but a local friend is ready to experiment with me.)
No more cake, brownie, corn muffin, or mac and cheese mixes.
More seasonal and more local and more organic fruits and vegetables.
Preserve our garden’s produce — freezing or fermenting.
Further reduce boxed cereal.
Figure out how to have sweets in moderation, with an attitude that will help Amy (and me) feel free to enjoy them occasionally, without fostering craving or a sense of deprivation.