Sunday, February 28, 2010

Food. F-O-O-D. Food.

I've been thinking about this all weekend....ALL weekend. Pretty much non-stop since Friday night. This happened to me once before, after I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and I ended up joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)...this time, well, I'm not sure. But I know things won't be the same!

Friday night I finally got around to viewing the documentary FOOD Inc. I've been wanting to see it for a while and I'm super happy that I finally got the chance.

click the pic above for a link to the official FOOD, Inc. Website.

Not that this documentary has much to be happy about. When I told my mom about it, she said, "I don't think I want to see that"...well, I pose, that is EXACTLY the reason that you should! Because so many Americans are in the dark about how food gets from the farm to our tables, we are basically fooled into believing that what is provided for us in the grocery stores is safe, even healthy! I'm learning that just because the FDA says it is so or a cleverly designed package says it, that doesn't necessarily mean that it is. Just take a minute to think about all the product recalls and food safety issues that we've seen in the media over the last few onions from Chi Chi's, Tomatoes from Taco Bell, Peanut Butter, Bagged lettuce and spinach, ground beef recalls...that's just a few that I can think of off the top of my head.

I've become accustomed to going into my local grocery store and being welcomed by shiny, colorful peppers (four different colors), tomatoes, pineapples, mangoes...fresh looking bananas, strawberries, apples. I have forgotten that these things aren't supposed to be ripe and ready to go in the middle of January (or that some of them grow no where near my north of the equator address)--until I get them home and slice or bite into one. Then somewhere in the back of my mind I think "is this how an apple is supposed to taste?" So many of the "off season" fruits and veggies that I MUST have from the grocery store are flavorless, and blah...but they sure do look pretty sitting on my counter.

I remember when I was a the not so long ago early eighties...going to the store with my mom and asking "why can't we get peaches?" and my mom saying, "well, they aren't in season" and basically that meant that the grocery store doesn't have any either. Now the grocery store has them...and off season, they are absolutely disgusting. I will vehemently argue with ANYONE who tries to claim otherwise. Still, the grocery store now has them at any time of the season and they look like their swollen, juicy predecessors...but...

Have you ever eaten a home grown or farm grown strawberry? Unbelievable right? How about a tomato from your own can't beat it for the flavor. I mean right off the vine, sun warmed, absolute run-down-your-chin deliciousness. Why don't we eat this way all the time?

Well, number one, I live in Pennsylvania where the growing season isn't that long...number two, it's expensive to eat healthy foods like this right? Number three, what do I do in the dead of winter (like right now) for produce?--I've nary canned a single thing, nor do I know HOW to do it. Number four, at 5:30pm that box of frozen pizza or chicken tenders looks like a great choice for dinner that night. I get it. It's hard.

BUT nothing great comes without price...and when I really get down to thinking about it what IS the price of good health? What is the price of feeling good about what I'm putting on the table, into my mouth, (forcing) into my children's mouths? What is the price of avoiding diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, cancer, salmonella, ecoli--what is the price of my LIFE, my family's LIFE??

I know there isn't much in this world that I can control, but what I put on the table can be one of them. Where's the extra money going to come from? Well...I just bought a new husband just purchase a few hundred dollar "game system"...the money is there, we just need to decide what we want to spend it on. I can tell you, it isn't heart medication, insulin, or hospital bills....

I'm really great at THINKING about eating sustainable, local, organic foods but what am I doing?...I mean really, there ARE frozen pizzas, extremely cheap cuts of meat, poultry and pork, sugary sweets, chips and pretzels, garbage breakfast cereals, pastries, and frosted this and that in my pantry, freezer, and refrigerator as I type this.

One thing I did last spring was join a CSA as I mentioned earlier. For those who aren't familiar, this is a local farm that runs because of farmer's market and CSA patrons. Basically I pay for a share in the farm and every week, or every other week (depending on how MUCH I pay) I get to out to the farm and fill a grocery bag or two with organic produce that they grow not 10 miles from my home. (I live in the suburbs). Last year, there was decent tomatoes because of blight, but they also had strawberries, organic eggs, chickens, and breads and baked goods to buy in addition. I really enjoyed driving up there with my girls on a summer morning and filling my bags. I felt really good about it.

The next week though I would find myself discarding much of the produce that came my way because I just didn't know how to cook it! I was very ashamed of myself. I want to do this again...the farmers were wonderful, the experience was lovely, the produce was EXCELLENT quality...I think I'm going to do a half share this year and it might be a little more manageable.

I would like to start a garden this year...but we are looking to also move I might not get to that this year.

And thanks to my viewing of FOOD, Inc. I checked around for some local farmers raising organic, grass fed beef...and I think I found a winner.

I'm also going to try to SEVERELY limit my family's consumption of fast food...sorry kids (really I think they like the toys that come with the meal better than they like the food anyway!)

I am going to try to be more aware and more respectful of myself, my family, my planet, my food, and the farmers and animals that produce it. I think this way of being is in harmony with what my God wants for our lives.

What I'm trying to say is if you haven't seen the documentary, you should...then you will know that I'm NOT a tree hugging hippie...I'm just a mom, trying to do the best for my husband, my kids, and myself...I think the message is worth passing along too!

I know it's going to be VERY tough...but any little change I make will be one for the better.

2 Reader Remarks:

Krajcimama said...

Sooo thought provoking. I'd love if you would pass along the info you have about the CSA and other places you are planning on going locally.

My kids are such picky eaters - I know that this would be a tremendous uphill battle...but I also know that it'd be worth it. Jerry does a garden every year and Nate loves to help him out - so maybe that's an angle I can use.

Did you buy or rent the documentary? I know if I can get Jerry on board with something like this it would be so much easier. Plus, he tends to be a little bit more into pushing a healthy lifestyle - so he would probably also be the extra motivation I would need to make changes.

I'd be kidding myself if I said we would completely switch right away - but like you I think little changes would help!

Great post - can't wait to hear how it goes.

JoyACookin' said...

I just saw this post. You've performed a public service by endorsing Food, Inc; it should be required viewing for all humans. The agricultural industrial complex is killing us slowly; if the antibiotic-fed cattle doesn't get us the refined, pesticide-soaked GMOs will.

Cooking with whole foods is the only way to achieve healthy individual bio-systems. Say NO to processed foods with their abundant salt, sugar and fat content that has addicted us and paralyzed our taste buds. We don't know what real food tastes like anymore.

What produce did you receive from the CSA that you couldn't cook? I'll gladly help you out!

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