Monday, February 14, 2011

Something useful for Monday morning.

I have the problem of wanting to be a philosopher. Consequently, I never write anything useful.

I had wanted to write something useful for people for a few years now, but it seems harder to imagine than to do. I realized it was because I had not been practicing what I preach. If I don’t “do” myself, then how can I expect others to “do?” Aside from just enjoying cooking a lot, I haven’t really began to work through the gauntlet of our industrial food system to remedy the situation for myself. How can I expect others to do the same?

Shame on me:

Allow me to make an excuse for myself: To start something is hard. Your instinct is to start only when you are sure you won’t fail. It’s human nature for us to be perfectionist. We wouldn’t accept anything less! The problem too is we really don’t know what it means to eat healthy and there are too many food fads out there, so we feel overwhelmed and we choose to ignore what little we can do to ignore the guilt and uncertainty. We have been accustomed to a certain way of life, and with no perfect reason to convince us otherwise, we choose to stay within our comfort zone.

The paradox: we won’t act because we don’t know, but we don’t know because we haven’t acted.

The solution: start somewhere and don’t be afraid. The point is not to achieve but to start. A few weeks ago Lauren and I started to really pay attention to the labels on the things we buy. I am sure millions of mothers have already been doing this for decades, hence our kaleidoscope of food fads. I suggest we do something different this time. Instead of just reading the labels and following what the “current” research suggests, we should read the labels and make the best decision for ourselves.

Here are a few maxims to follow:

  1. Buy things with the least amount of ingredients listed. More natural ingredients are better, and the more names you recognize the better. If you read the label and there are more ten-syllable words than simple food names, and you have no idea what they mean or where they come from, then you may want to put it down.
  2. Price should matter! But you can make reasonable compromises. Lauren and I used to buy enough meat so we would have animal protein every dinner. We bought the cheap kind of meat, generally store brand – CAFO inducted and full of antibiotics and hormones. Since we started buying grass-fed meats, we are planning to cut back on our meat consumption to offset the double cost per week. I had grown up only eating meat two or three times per week, I think we can manage the slight cut back knowing that we are eating healthier. (We bought some bison meat and I will post an awesome Shepherd’s Pie recipe.)
  3. Buy locally grown and packaged!
  4. Don’t expect to buy things 100% local and natural. It is impossible. I think you have a better chance of walking on water. Tell yourself to just make a conscious effort, that’s all. If you follow the first two maxims, you will notice your grocery bags’ content change slowly. Lauren and I noticed certain things disappear from our daily customs and a few surprising healthy eating habits we are developing. The more you do, the more progress you will see, and more you will want to do.
  5. If we can do it, so can you.
  6. Oh, don’t forget to take your own grocery bags! And always submit ideas for us to help ourselves.

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