First of all, let me say that I'm very excited that so many of you are interested in my latest food journey. I think it will be tremendously helpful and encouraging to share my discoveries and hear more about your food journeys.
To help me sort out and map out our itinerary, I think I'll embark on this journey like a journalist, using the good, old, "who, what, why, when, where, how" approach. Let's start with where.
Where I spend most of my day, right here in the kitchen. I spend hours every day in this very spot. My kitchen island is food central.
This is where I prepare our meals and snacks and where I eat most of my meals (standing up). This is where I search for new recipes and try new recipes.
This is where I converse with family and friends, often about food. Chances are, if you've been to my house you've spent a majority of your visit in this very spot.
While I don't consider myself a foodie, I'm very much into food. I believe in communicating love and warmth through the food I make. I believe food is much more than nourishment for the body. Cooking is a form of expression. Eating is a wonderful way to connect with others. Food is one of the few things each and every human being has in common.
My food journey began long ago. When I was in my early teens, my grandparents were diagnosed with hypertension and high blood pressure and started taking some serious medications and altering their diet. I became acutely aware of sodium and have been ever since. Throughout my childhood, the women in my life did Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, Atkins, The Zone - you name the diet, I know someone who has tried it.
In college I took several nutrition classes (I was a nursing major) and started altering recipes to reduce fat. When I had children, the reality that I was solely responsible for their nutrition hit me hard. I started reading labels very carefully, cooking nearly every meal from scratch, and talking to other moms about feeding our families. Over the years we've eliminated many things from our diet: hydrogenated fats, artificial flavors and colors, high fructose corn syrup, nitrates, artificial sweeteners.
I buy organic often, but not always. We only eat local, in season fruits - which can get a little boring this time of year. Thank goodness we have local kiwis to give us a break from apples and oranges. Most of our vegetables are local and in season, but I do love the convenience of frozen veggies. We only eat meat 2-3 times per month, and we buy our meat from a local rancher at the farmer's market. Our eggs come from friends who have free range chickens; but soon they'll come from our own chickens. I shop at five different stores and the farmer's market. I bake all of our bread and baked goods, often adding a little milled flax seed, substituting apple sauce for oil and butter, using half whole wheat flour and half unbleached flour.
I'd like to say we eat well and have a healthy diet, but sometimes we "cheat". I've been known to drink soda on a bad day; the kids love Slurpee's now and then. My kids also eat more candy than they should - I'm a sucker, and the rest of our family delights in giving our children sweets. Some of the foods we love (specifically cereals and snack foods) contain ingredients that I know we shouldn't eat. I don't want to make rules against certain foods, but I want to educate myself and my family so we can make better choices. I want us to know why we say yes to some food and no to other food, and I want us to feel good about these choices. I want us to know where our food comes from and how it gets to our plate. I hope our journey leads us to a better understanding and appreciation for the role food has in our world, our lives and our bodies.
This just about covers where I come from, where I am and where I'm going in this latest food journey. But where am I getting information and where am I shopping?
Here are a few links I've been studying:
Organic Consumers Organization
Environmental Working Group
Weston Price Foundation
Institute for Responsible Technology
This is a lot of information to chew on, so I suggest small bites. My favorite new resource is the Non-GMO shopping guide found at the Institute for Responsible Technology. This guide has helped tremendously as I've trolled the aisles of several different grocery stores. Thankfully some of the brands we love are Non-GMO, such as Tillamook, Envirokids, Annie's, Organic Valley and Jelly Belly. Here's where I've been shopping: Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, our local natural food store, and even the local, major chain grocery store - I just make sure to read the labels carefully. And of course the farmer's market. We're very fortunate to have a year round farmer's market every Saturday morning.
Phew! Have I lost you yet? It might be a few days before I share the next leg of our journey. I'm still digesting it all myself. Feel free to share more about your food journeys. We can all caravan together and share travel tips. Happy trails to you, until we meet again.