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.