A change is on the horizon.

Woah. Trevor and I just made a commitment. And it’s pretty major.

Okay, a little backstory:

Back in the fall of 2002, I took an Honors College course called “Food and American Culture,” or something like that. It was the first time I’d learned anything about food systems, where our food comes from, and the insanity that is industrial agriculture. It was the first time I’d ever given a second thought to what I was eating. Then, the September 11 attacks happened. The following weekend, some friends and I went camping so we could sort of “detox” from all of the media coverage. I decided on that trip that I would quit eating meat. For the next year, I was a so-so vegetarian. I ate meat at major family holidays, and I accidentally ordered a large cut of meat once while in France. After the year was up, I sort of meandered back to meat, but not as heavily as before. Then, I met Trevor, and we started dating. And cooking together. He certainly wasn’t a vegetarian, but he didn’t mind the majority of his dinners being sans meat. In the early days, we were volunteers at Heifer Ranch, where the culture is very pro-local foods, and our lunches were made with meat from the farm. Over the years, though, we’ve eaten more and more meat. We’ve tried to limit ourselves to what we can buy from local sources (like our friends), but we’ve not truly set out with any sort of commitment.

Tonight, we just finished watching Food, Inc. Honestly, there wasn’t much in the movie that was new to me. Or surprising. Okay, except for the ammonia stuff that is in almost all ground beef to “fight e-coli” (Totally regretting that cheeseburger I had at the restaurant tonight, no lie.). But it really got us revved up.

Just like with Christmas, this parenting gig really has us reflecting and being more mindful of the choices we make. Why are we eating the same crap we’ve been eating for so long? Are we really going to feed the same stuff to Sadie? As Sadie starts eating more and more “real” food, I’m starting to notice that not all of the foods her dad and I eat actually are REAL. And that’s scary.

So here’s the commitment: we’re going to tackle our food choices, one by one, and we’re going to do what we can to set them straight. We’ll buy local products when we can, and we’ll buy organic when we can’t. Priorities will be on changing the animal products we consume, because those have the biggest impact. We’re going to cut out what processed foods we do eat (I’m quite fond of Michael Pollan’s five-ingredient rule–I just need to start sticking to it).

Here are some initial thoughts

1. Breakfast changes: I generally eat oatmeal or toast. We’ll start buying locally-made bread until Trevor can master breadmaking. Trevor likes to eat cereal, so we’ll get his sister’s homemade granola recipe. We can buy milk from a local dairy through a local food club (more on this later). I WANT CHICKENS in our backyard. We’ve been talking about this since we moved in, and I think we’re actually going to do it if we get a big enough tax refund (fingers crossed!).

2. Lunch changes: Trevor’s lunch is the biggest problem–it’s full of processed foods. We’ve got the bread solved, and we only eat natural peanut butter. Summer 2008, I made a TON of freezer jam, but we’re about to run out. Next summer, I’m going to make a ton of jam, but I’m going to can it. Instead of the HFCF cereal bars Trevor always takes in his lunch, we’re going to learn to make granola bars. Instead of the fivethousandingredient yogurt cups, Trevor is going to get organic yogurt in bulk, until we can master making yogurt (have a yogurt maker!) on a regular basis. Getting Trevor to give up his potato chips just might be impossible, so if you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. (Don’t even think of trying to tell him to eat carrot and celery sticks–I’ve tried.)

3. Dinner changes: We’ve actually been making progress on dinner, in a sense, but I want to save this for its own post. It involves using a meal planning service, and we’re going to start engineering the meal plans we get around foods we can get from the food club or farmer’s market.

4. The Sticky Wicket: Sweets…are going to be a problem. We love them. Candy, ice cream, cookies. I know we can make just about any of that from scratch or buy it organically, but it’s just that much harder when eating sweets has become an impulsive habit (Is that an oxymoron? I can’t tell.). I guess that’s kind of the point, though. Sweets used to be a treat, as they should be. Right now, they’re a regular part of our diet. And I don’t want that for Sadie. Not if she’s going to be one of the two out of three of her peers without Type II Diabetes.

It’s going to be a challenge, and I think the goal will be to have made considerable progress by the time Sadie is a year (or a little over) old. And here’s the really big idea: I’m going to use this blog to do it. I’ve had this backburner idea for a blog since way before Sadie was born, but I couldn’t get going. But now it’s all so clear. It’s going to take some work to get it all into place, but keep your ears out for news on the horizon…

Wow. I feel good about this.

8 thoughts on “A change is on the horizon.

  1. cate

    Hello! I discovered your blog about a year ago when I found out that I was pregnant and started looking for sources of info about pregnancy, raising children, etc. Anyway, I’ve followed your blog off and on since then and I think- if I remember correctly- that you made your own baby food. I would like to start doing this for my baby (he is currently 3 months). What ‘equipment’ did you use or wish you had/used? Any recipies you followed? How long is homemade baby food good for if frozen?

    Thanks so much!!

    1. citysteader Post author

      Hi Cate, thanks for joining the conversation! I did make some baby food for Sadie, and I wrote a post about making green beans. I ended up also making pureed squash, sweet potatoes, peaches, apples and pears. I really just used my electric veggie steamer and a food processor. I got these little freezer trays to freeze the food in little servings, but you could use ice cube trays. I didn’t buy a book, but in the long run, I didn’t really follow any recipes. I just tried not to overcook anything. I kind of ended up in a Catch-22 in terms of veggie seasons…frozen baby food is supposed to only be “good” for three or four months. I suspect that has mostly to do with it beginning to lose nutritional value, rather than it being a safety issue, but I’m no expert there. So, some of what I froze was practically “expired” by the time Sadie was old enough to eat it. That said, I’ve recently discovered baby-led weaning (that’s a whole other post I’m cooking in my head) and have completely discontinued feeding Sadie anything that requires me to spoon it into her mouth. So now I’ve got all of these frozen purees–thinking of making smoothies with the fruit ones and feeding the veggies to the dogs. If I had to start all over, I’d not even bother with making purees. But, if you do want to do it, know that it is very easy!

  2. Stephanie

    I LOVE Food, Inc! We’re doing some changing as well–we’re buying organic whenever possible and scoping out farmer’s markets. Sweets are definitely the worst part, but it’s awesome that you guys are doing this!

  3. Liz

    One of my favorite books is the Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart. It has a really comprehensive and fascinating intro to baking bread and lots of good recipes. Although many of the recipes require 2 days to make, they aren’t very time consuming. I’ve also been using a great 100% whole wheat bread recipe that I got from the back of a King Arthur bag. It’s Brian’s favorite and it only takes about 3 hours from start to finish. (I usually make a double batch, so that we have two loaves to last us a while.) I often use my stand mixer to make it so I can multi-task, but kneading it by hand is really easy too. I’d be happy to send you the recipe, if you’re interested!

    1. citysteader Post author

      Thanks, Elizabeth! It would be great if you could send that whole wheat bread recipe. My King Arthur bag has a recipe for devil’s food cake–not exactly what we need for sandwiches. Sadly, I don’t yet have a stand mixer, but Trevor likes kneading.

  4. Amira @ Define "Mature"

    It’s the same story for us too. Food, among other things, is something we’re reconsidering and have decided to always opt for locals farmer’s markets or organic. At the very least, Aiman will always have the best of what’s available.

    I love that you guys have a game plan for this; always good to have a game plan.

    Also I’ve never seen Food Inc, but I can only imagine the horror I’d see.

    And I tried being a vegetarian once, but I only lasted until dinner that day, I think. I’m not even a huge meat eater…

    Just the worst example of will power.

  5. Fawn

    I too have vowed to make better food choices for my family as my New Years resolution. Thanks for this great post – it provides some great starting points and thinking processes. My biggest struggle will be with my husband, who actually prefers store-brand milk to organic or local. I’ve even blind taste-tested him on it. Food Inc. was definitely a wake-up call for me, as I never got to take cool classes in college. ; ) Hopefully I’ll see you at the market this summer!

    What local bread are you buying? We love Old Mill, and have been using the B1G1 coupons out of the Entertainment book to bring down the price. Paying full price hurts!

    Ok, off to make it snow on my family blog now…

    1. citysteader Post author

      We haven’t bought any local bread just yet–for sandwiches, at least. We’re really going to make an effort to make our own, because it’s just so cheap to do so! If we come up with an easy, good recipe, I’ll be sure to post it.

      The snow is fun, isn’t it?


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