November 14, 2010

My Family Food Goals

One of my goals as a mom is to feed my family Real Food.  What does that mean?  It means whole foods, foods that are unprocessed, organic, locally grown, foods that take time and care to prepare, such as those found in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook.  Of course, meeting all those standards is more of a long-term goal.  After all, I'm a busy girl, and my family is used to eating certain foods.  I'm taking baby steps, since that's really the most sane way to approach this task.

My first step on this journey was to start reading blogs that followed the Nourishing Traditions.  I read these crazy people talking about drinking raw milk and I thought, "How unsanitary and disgusting!"  I thought most of the recipes were really unhealthy because there was so much fat involved, but I was intrigued.

Then I watched Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution.  That show really got me thinking.  It also made me angry.  How can fried potato strips that have been frozen and reheated pass for a vegetable in the school cafeteria?  I remember the episode where they made him serve bread and potatoes, because they were required to have two starches- as if kids today don't get enough starch.  It was mind-boggling to me to see what the government says is "good nutrition" for growing boys and girls.  Then those sweet little kids guzzling that sugary "milk" was the worst.  After that, I stopped buying the chocolate syrup. 

I finally broke down and bought Nourishing Traditions.  I remember when I first flipped through it, something clicked inside of me.  I knew what Sally Fallon Morrell was saying was true, that refined sugars and flours and man-made fats are the cause of most modern health problems.  However, she kept going on and on about how almost every item at the grocery store is bad for you.  She tells you to eat sauerkraut, but not the stuff on the shelves.  It must be 'lacto-fermented'.  And she says to eat yogurt, but not the stuff that's full of artificial colors and flavors.  Bake your own bread, she says, but you need to make sourdough (yuck).  Cook with lard, but not the partially hydrogenated stuff you find at WalMart.  Reading all this information left me feeling hopelessly overwhelmed.  Where to even begin?  Where would I even buy this stuff?  The worst part though, is where she writes something like, "If you don't have time to cook all this weird stuff, then you need to rethink your priorities".  I mean, how condescending!  Like, I've got cows to feed and laundry to do, all with kids clinging to me.  Work with me!  Then, to add insult to injury, her recipes are.... not very tasty.  The first one I tried was her banana bread.  All whole wheat flour, and some maple syrup for sweetener.  It was the heaviest, nastiest loaf of banana bread I'd ever eaten.  So I backed off.  I kept reading a couple of Real Food blogs, but I was feeding my family most of the same old stuff. 

But then I read Real Food for Mother and Baby, by Nina Planck.  What a breath of fresh air!  She tells you to eat canned salmon straight off the grocery store shelf because it's good for you!  Now that, I can do!  She tells you what's good to eat, and she doesn't make you panic.   I also starting eating lots more eggs. And then I read The Omnivore's Dilemma.  That inspired me to eat more vegetables.  And that helped me relax a little about the whole grass-fed cow thing.  I remember reading how Joel Salatin bought corn from his neighbor to feed his cows, even though it wasn't organic.  It was local and sustainable.  Now that, that I can work with. 

So, for now, I've become more mindful about what I'm eating.  I can read a food label and figure out what's in it.  I've decided to have fun with it.  I've experimented with natural sweeteners and different fats (coconut oil, anyone?).  I'm baking from scratch, making healthier treats for my son.  I still use at least half all-purpose flour when I'm baking, since my husband won't touch it otherwise.  I still use convenience foods too.  Alot of recipes I'll post on this blog won't follow Nourishing Traditions strictly, but they'll be food you make from scratch, with ingredients you can pronounce, and you can easily substitute.

My long term (5 year) food goals for my family are to reduce our consumption of refined sugars, and ultimately, our consumption of all sweeteners.   In the short term (as in the next year), I'd like to find a recipe for red sauce that I can use in my lasagna.  I'd like to make sauerkraut.  I'd like to find a good granola bar recipe.  I'll continue looking for ways to use coconut oil.  I'll try cooking organ meat.  I'd like to find some raw milk (yeah, we're a cattle ranch and we don't have raw cow's milk- weird I know).  And I'll continue learning how to have an extremely productive organic garden to feed my family!  Because I think that's the best way to ensure that what we're getting is local, organic, and sustainable.


Kim said...

Well said. I had the same problem with Nourishing Traditions, but haven't read Nina's book yet...guess I should. It's easy to get discouraged when starting but I figure that if it's from scratch, it has to be healthier than its grocery store counterpart!

Jason G. said...

Here is a link for resources on where to buy raw milk in your state.

And try spelt flour, it's the best out of all the flour in that it breaks down into sugars the slowest and won't hamper your calcium absorption like other grains/oats. It's basically the ancient version of wheat and retains all it's qualities even when ground. There isn't a flavor difference, so you might try that with your hubby. Half all-purpose, half spelt and see how it goes. It does make wonderful from scratch pancakes! :) Good luck in your food search. Another great video is Food Inc. Really opened my eyes to how our world works with food. ~Linda~ (The only way I could leave a comment was to be signed into my husband's email account!)

ginger-n-wyo said...

Seriously...Why aren't we neighbors? We seem to have so much in common. I love to cook food that my family loves to eat. If the "rules" are so rigid that no one enjoys it, what's the point? I buy white sandwich bread because it's the only way my husband will pack a lunch. It's better than McDonalds.
If you have the space I highly recommend investing in a milk cow or two. I get milk from a friend and help her with milk chores when she is busy or goes out of town. The milk is excellent and the cheeses, etc that can be made from fresh milk is even better. And I love the time I spend with the cows.
I work full time and go to college. Anyone who says that my "real food" priorites are out of whack needs to come live my life for a few days. Really, I dare them.
Check out "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day." Good luck meeting your family food goals, it's a fabulous challenge! Also check out my most recent post on bolognese sauce (red sauce.)

Bitterroot Mama said...

I scanned through Nourishing Traditions awhile ago and found the recipes inedible. (I was also scared to make and eat/drink fermented beverages and grains while pregnant.) I try to make many of our foods from scratch, but my husband has a huge sweet tooth and I don't want to jeopardize the happiness of our union. (Cheesecake from scratch must be better than cheesecake from the store. It tastes better anyway.) He also is opposed to raw milk. I don't drink milk anyway. I think it's hard to change eating habits in a culture that's continually floding us with advertisements for cheap, inferior food. After watching Food, Inc., I started purchasing only "natural" cow meat. If we had a chest freezer, I'd buy a local cow. I also recommend the artisan bread book that Ginger mentioned. I made some again this weekend and it was wonderful.
The whole thing about transitioning to real food is taking baby steps together as a family. I'll be interested to see how your journey goes.