Sunday, May 6, 2012

Food is Medicine

This post has been brewing for a while. The evolution of how we think about food. What we eat. What it does to our bodies.

Awhile back I was obsessed with menu planning and, in general, mapping out what we consume.  I was also feeling woefully unprepared, haggard, often struggling to make the healthy meals I had planned out for my family while at the same time giving what little attention I could to my son in the evening hours. You see, the evening is when we most often see each other on weekdays.

We used to spend a lot more time together. I stayed home with our son from age 17 months to 28 months. When I was 'not working outside of the home' I was still obsessed with food, and what we ate. Food was probably what most motivated me to quit my job and stay home with him. TV and play was a close second, but that's a whole different topic.

Shortly after returning to work part time, or sometime close to then, a close friend was diagnosed with cancer. She has two young kids. All I knew to do in the face of something like cancer was provide food. She told me, as a part of her combating cancer, she was embarking on a mainly raw foods diet. I had heard of such things, but really didn't know what it meant.

A few months into returning to work part time I took a second, part time, job. This job meant I didn't get home until after 7 o'clock. My husband enjoys food, not cooking. So in order to save us from the fast-food, pizza delivery trap, and pissing away any extra money the second job would give us, I devised menus relying more and more on 'convenience food'. I shudder to think of what we ate during this time. All at the cost of earning more/saving money.

A little over a year ago, I got a full time job, super close to home. This job enables me to pick the kid up early-ish, spend some time playing, then when Daddy gets home I get to cooking dinner. In the past few months I've completely shifted from menu planning to ensuring we have staples on hand like whole grains (wheatberries, rice, couscous, quinoa) veggies and herbs from the yard, various proteins to make some really great dinners. This means more knowing what is in season, more checking out what is growing in the backyard, and some pre-cooking on the weekends to make sure things are ready to go on those busy weeknights where the temptation to eat out are strong.

In December of last year my uncle died. He was my favorite uncle, my mom's younger brother. My grandparents have outlived him. He loved food, and cooking. And making sure everyone around him was happy. But somewhere along the way he lost the ability to really take care of himself. Food was medicine, and he suffered, what I believe, to be a completely avoidable stroke. One, which obliterated his brain stem and left him nothing more than a 'vegetable'.  Such an interesting turn-of-phrase – VEGETABLE. In this connotation vegetables are lifeless, nothing. Yet, in reality they are life giving, full of nutrients. How did we get so far away from the knowledge, and often necessity, of our ancestors? Food is medicine!

Throughout all this time we've watched and read all sorts of informative things like
Food, Inc.
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Food Matters
Riddle Love

We have quit eating virtually all processed food...almost. We've really limited our meat intake, relying more and more on plant based foods. We try to eat some raw foods at most meals. This is much easier during the growing season. We try our best to shop at small, local groceries stores, the farmers market...and our yard. Things I've noticed since we stopped shopping at the big-box retailers - many less impulse purchases, virtually stress-free shopping, more community connections and spending less money on better, quality, nutrient dense foods. Also, I've dropped the 'bulk' mentality places like Sam's instills. We still have a membership there, I think it expires next month, and we won't be renewing.

And we've talked to our almost kindergartener about no longer eating at the Chinese buffet because of MSG, and no longer eating at Sonic (the only fast food place we ate at with any regularity). He is the ultimate in keeping us on track...anytime we even talk about going to one of those places he reminds us that it's not healthy, or might 'make us zombies'. Luckily we have great local places like The Earth, Pepe's, LOCAL, Ludivine, etc. if we do 'need' to eat out.

We have a long-term plan of starting a farm. This will take some paying down debts, acquiring of some land, and more planning over the next 3 to 5 years. In the meantime we are practicing and refining our skills, applying permaculture and organic growing techniques to our little patch of land. And learning a lot about ourselves, and the value of real food in the meantime.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring in a bowl

Sugar Snap Peas from the Farmers Market
Radishes, Spring Onion, Basil, Dill & Thyme from our garden
All dressed with lemon juice and olive oil

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