Saturday, June 06, 2009

The Food Revolution: More thoughts on food etc.

Last night while we were out on our big date, after dinner at a local middle eastern restaurant, and feeling very stuffed, and after driving down the road in an unfamiliar direction on a lark and getting to know the various sections of downtown and south Louisville (Finally Wes glanced over and said "Oh, there's Churchill Downs! I know how to get home now!") we ended up at Carmichael's book shop, where Wes bought me a copy of Michael Pollan's newest tome: In Defense of Food. I have a feeling it's going to mesh nicely, but not 100% perfectly with what I'm reading in Nourishing Traditions. I really get into the whole "food discussion". A topic which has interested me for years.

Here's an exciting paragraph that I wanted to share with you guys. It's on page 14 of the paperback version, in the introduction:

"Most of my suggestions come down to strategies for escaping the Western diet, but before the resurgence of farmer's markets, the rise of the organic movement, and the renaissance of local agriculture now under way across the country, stepping outside the conventional food system simply was not a realistic option for most people. Now it is. We are entering a postindustrial era of food; for the first time in a generation it is possible to leave behind the Western diet without having also to leave behind civilization. And the more eaters who vote with their forks for a different kind of food, the more commonplace and accessible such food will become."

I remember, about twelve or thirteen years ago, I had been doing lots of food related reading and I decided that it really would be better to "go organic". I tried. Our grocery bill about knocked us over. Now, it's 13 years later, and what is available has changed. I CAN buy organics, for the most part. OK, our finances have changed to the point where I have a budget with the wiggle room necessary to be able to do that, but at this point I'm also seeing a direct connection between real, healthy food and how I feel.

I'm really really grateful that I've managed to find some ways, without increasing my food budget (which apparently is below "government standards" of what a family is expected to spend on food in a month...we spend somewhere between $166 and $200 dollars a month on food per person in our family...the lower number is the goal, and very occasionally I slip above that goal...but not very often), of joining the food revolution. I wish I could do more in terms of offering the revolution to others. But the best I can do right now is in my own home. (I still buy regular peanut butter and macaroni and cheese to donate to the food bank, and feel like a huge hypocrite doing so...perhaps I need to think harder and more creatively about what to do there.) But hopefully, by voting with my fork, as Pollan puts it, the availability of real food grown in sustainable ways will continue to increase and become more accessible to any who have food dollars to spend, even the poor with transportation difficulties and a limited budget.

A big part of making the food revolution work, is cutting out the middle man and shopping farmer's markets, or CSA, or placing an order with a local farmer once a week. It's about changing how we think about where our food is coming from. Because the truth is, food comes from farms, not from grocery stores.

The second part of it, is actually cooking from scratch. And scratch cooking means using things like chicken bones and vinegar and water to create bone stock, as opposed to opening a can of Swanson's chicken broth.

Cooking from scratch means the groceries in my pantry look more like bags of oats, flour, dried beans, onions, olive oil, eggs, fruits and vegetables, etc. Than it does boxes of macaroni and cheese mix, soup mixes and the like.

Yes it's work. That's the third part of the food revolution. I spend weird amounts of time in the kitchen. Doing weird things. Rachel Ray I am not. Yesterday I made cheese just so I could get my hands on some whey so I could soak some whole wheat flour in whey water overnight so I could make waffles for breakfast and another three dozen or so for the freezer. (Mmmmmm, toaster waffle goodness this week.)

But I think its worth it. Because for the first time in forever I am feeling good. Nourished. It's easier to tell when I've eaten enough. And there's a sense of physical well being with me that is new. I still have fibromyalgia, and I still have a really really bad back, but other than that, there's some wellness happening. My skin is better, has a bit more of a glow to it, no more acne. I have more energy. I feel brighter.

Still massively battling sugar cravings, and I'm certainly not immune to temptation, lest you think I"m perfect. Chocolate gets consumed far too often...for now: I eat really really healthy...except when I don't.


Fr. John McCuen said...

Your observations on buying food as close to the source as possible are intriguing. Thank you for sharing them! When we can, we buy from the local farmer's markets, but all too often the time to get to their locations as opposed to stopping at the local supermarket isn't available. Speaking of "intriguing," I've not run across a recipe for stock that uses vinegar. Can you share the recipe, or, steer me to the source?

As for your fibromyalgia, ask your physician about low-dose naltrexone. My doctor has started me on a course of treatment using LDN (not for fibromyalgia), and it has been promising so far. He has several other patients, some with fibromyalgia, who are also responding well. There are a few websites with information and testimonials. It's worth a look.

elizabeth said...

I need to try to eat better as well; thanks for this post. Inspiring.

Has said...

Loved this post Alana. I too can feel when I'm eating healthy, except that I seem to prefer to eat junk and feel rotten. It takes a surprising amount of discipline to cook from scratch and not eat junk.

geekywife said...

I really like _In Defense of Food_. Pollan was also on The Colbert Report (within the past few months). You can watch it on, if that's your cup of tea. And there was a blog post in the NYT about a year ago, in the Well column. In the comments, ppl came up with other short aphorisms like the one on the cover of his book.

I'm not quite there yet, cooking from scratch, but all in due time. I scrapped American "cheese", which is what I was raised on, after reading Pollan. Now I just find it dis-gust-ing.
Peace, Janelle