A die-hard City Girl reconnects to the natural world… in the city.

Posts tagged “How To

Turning Over a New Leaf

So you’re still hanging in there with me I see. Well I am very grateful. For every person who decides enough is enough, it is one more person who uses their purchase power to tell Big Food we won’t have it anymore. And if you haven’t noticed, Big Food is listening. They know people are growing more and more savvy about their food and they’re trying to make us think they’re catering. McDonald’s recently started offering whole grain oatmeal and fruit on their breakfast menu.

Which is great until I remember that package of apples I got once that never rotted. Ever. 2 months after being opened the apples looked as if they’d just been peeled and cut. I was disgusted and refused to let my daughter eat them. I was still too afraid to delve deeper into their food, however. Which is a shame. As a parent you want to do what’s right for your children, what will promote strong and healthy growth….

 I spiraled into a shame pit for a moment but we’re back and I’d like to share with you the decisions my family made (which reads as the decisions I made and forced on my family though they’re on board for the most part) to move toward a new lifestyle of clean eating. They were:

  1. No more meals from a box or package, no meals that can go in the microwave or be placed in the oven straight from the freezer (meals meaning something already prepped that requires no work from me).
  2. We will have one vegetarian night per week. . Veggies will take center stage on our plates and make meat the side dish and not the main dish.
  3. We will no longer buy meat from a grocery store (except our co-op). We will only eat pastured meat and dairy products.
  4. We will have no meat in our lunches (except for our growing Diva. I’ve been told by her doctor not to restrict her calories and let them be as diverse as possible).
  5. We will eat organic produce as much as possible.
  6. No more processed condiments, sauces, dressings, etc. We will make our own or at least make sure the ingredients would be what I would put in it.
  7. No more fast food. Dining Out will occur more infrequently.
  8. If we do buy packaged food (like bread, cheese, etc.) it will be organic and processed in a recognizable way and have ingredients that The Diva can pronounce and recognize.

This list seems daunting, doesn’t it?  And where on earth do you even start? If the grocery store doesn’t have it, where do you buy stuff like this? What the heck does “pastured” mean? How do you KNOW how it was processed? Did this crazy lady say “make” my own condiments?!?!?

Okay, calm down. If you’re feeling anything like I was after taking the red pill, you want to know how to accomplish clean eating and you want to know NOW. Very well, here is what I did.

I have to preface this by telling you that I live in the Land Where Hippies Dwell. This means I’m surrounded by people who battle “the system” everyday. This works to my benefit, in this instance, because there is a group of co-operative grocery stores started by concerned citizens and farmers that sell only natural foods. And no I don’t mean Whole Foods (you’ll start to see that grocery stores, even well intentioned ones, are a major part of the problem). PCC Natural Markets is awesome, to be cliché. I am lucky enough to be able to go ten minutes down the road and get clean food.

There is also the very helpful website eatwild.com which is where I found my farm that I purchase my meat from and local farms that sell to the PCC Markets. Here there is a list of local farms in your area, farmer’s markets (THIS is where you want to shop if you can!), co-op stores like PCC, restaurants that use only “wild” products, and butcher shops, etc. You can view farm websites here, which I did in my education.

Unlike the Sara Lee website where you can’t locate ANY ingredients lists for their products (and why the hell not Sara Lee? What don’t you want me to readily know about your food?), the farms are remarkably transparent about every stage of their operations. At 3 sisters Beef where I got my (DELICIOUS IS NOT A STRONG ENOUGH WORD!) beef from, she was very honest to tell me that their bacon does contain nitrates and nitrites (yucky stuff)… for now. And this  is how you know how your food was processed. If you can’t find easily learn how it was processed, then they have something to hide and don’t buy that product. It’s more simple than you think once you know what questions to ask.

 From the farms and the farmer’s markets you want to look for PASTURED meat and dairy. It is not good enough to say organic and I’ll explain why in the next post. But pastured means that your cow grew up outside of The Meatrix but still managed to eat grass (as it’s supposed to), laze around in the sun all day and be treated humanely from birth to butcher. It means they eat what God intended for them to eat and ONLY what God intended them to eat. No we don’t NEED meat to live but for those of us who adore it, we can have it and we can have it without the guilt and the expense to the environment or our health.

I am not going to get too much into cost in this post but I will say this. I am so cheap it’s ridiculous. Cheap, frugal whatever you want to call it, I hate spending what I FEEL is more money than I should. So my second response (after the shock and anger, of course) was “how much is this lifestyle change going to cost me?”. I went to the PCC to just look around and price things out. I purchased a meal for me and my husband to eat and then did price comparisons. I was astounded at how little it varied. I could get clean, whole foods for about the same amount of money as the nasty stuff. Amazing.

I regret to inform you that despite their best efforts it is virtually impossible to eat clean from your local Safeway, Kroger/QFC, Walmart, etc. And believe me, they are trying HARD to make you feel like you can. You cannot. Organic Produce is about as clean as you’re going to get. If you MUST then I’d say go to Whole Foods but they’re a part of the problem too (and more expensive than my PCC so I don’t go there either).  I am currently in the process of getting together a group of people and we will buy an entire cow from 3 Sisters Beef. They will butcher it and cut it up and package it for us. My grandmother used to do this with her neighbors. This is the best way to get your food short of hunting it down yourself. And it’s more than worth the hour drive to get it.

I have been cooking our meals every night. Our eating experience has become one that is so amazingly refreshing and pleasant that I now don’t mind. The food we’re eating… well I’ll get into that more when I discuss the benefits so far with you. Which means you have to stay tuned. In the meantime, stop hanging out with a loser like me and go to eatwild.com and start researching how you can get started in your area. It’s time to take the shovel I’ve given you and start digging.