"Gypsy gold does not chink and glitter. It gleams in the sun and neighs in the dark."

~ Saying of the Gladdagh Gypsies of Galway

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Real Food

It feels like forever since I've posted. I've been busy, what can I say! What's new, right?

Anyways, this may be a rambling of sorts, but I have lots on my mind about Real Food.

What comes to your mind when you hear the term 'Real Food'?
Hippies? Weirdo's? Health Freaks? Progressives? Tell me. I am interested to know.

With the popularity gaining once again in farmers markets and local food, maybe the views on real food are better than what I think. All I know is, when I talk to some people about things I am making or eating, they think I am some dirty hippie that fell off her rocker. And honestly, that is ok. I like hippies! I used to want to be one -- after I used to want to be Amish ;) Way back 20 some years ago......

Over the past 5-ish years I would say, I have slowly embarked on a food journey of sorts. Slowly. And once I had the baby, I dug in head first and have learned SO much. And still have so much to learn. But it is all fascinating. And the health benefits that come with it make it a no brainer. Albeit, you have to change your ways - get out of your comfort zone - go back to a slower way of life. But for me, that's ok.

There is an initiative at my food we do to help support feeding the hungry and donating to local food banks. Yesterday, I attended a 'Hunger Summit' for my county in part with this initiative at work. It already peaked my interest since I am one for local food, real food and slow food. The hunger statistics in our county were horrendous. We do live in a county that is consider more 'affulent' than many others we are surrounded by, but it is just another sign of the times. Something like 1 in every 4 kids goes to bed hungry. Seniors are eating canned dog food because they are to embarrassed and won't ruin their pride by stopping at one of the free food distributions held throughout the month. And, 63% of the people taking advantage of these food distributions are people who would not qualify for government assistance. That means, without the distribution site, they'd go hungry. These are middle class people who've never experienced this type of situation before. (And if it is this bad for people, my heart is most certainly breaking for all the animals out there that YOU KNOW ARE HUNGRY)

Statistics very disgusting. It was something like 90-some % of the canned fruits and veggies you buy come from Asia & Thailand. And domestically produced, shelf stable processed junk is hard to find. REALLY? Why? With the agriculture we have in our country, why are we purchasing outside??

Things have become to convenient but in the long run, we pay. In my state, the 'hunger bill' is $6.97 billion and 78% of that is born from health care costs. In a nut shell, this means that 78% are hungry because they choose to pay for their medical bills before their food, and they poor diets are more than likely to cause of the healthy issues. I know food alone can't guarantee you a clean bill of health, but lets be honest, if it sits out for 2 weeks and doesn't mold, or has a list of ingredients you cannot pronounce, why are you eating it?

I am kinda all over the place with this post, but I was chatting with a friend yesterday (Hi, Jen!) about all this, and there were a few things I wanted to share from our conversation that may be of interest to any of you who are also embarking on a Real Food journey!

She asked why we drink whole milk, versus 2% or skim or whatever. It IS more expensive and she asked also about the fat per serving. My best, non-technical answer was that it is GOOD Fat! And that whole milk is the form of milk closest to it's natural form. Make sense.

All those things out there saying fat free and low fat, well, they really aren't doing you a favor. Sorry. Take yogurt for example. People eat it thinking they are doing good, instead of eating a cinnamon bun or something. This is an excerpt from a farm website whose yogurt I purchase when I can: Until recently, yogurt probably changed little over the centuries. Although the USDA still defines yogurt as milk cultured with Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, modern yogurt manufacturers have been busy "improving" yogurt by adding fillers, thickeners, flavorings, and an ever increasing list of additional bacterial cultures. You are missing out on the good things in yogurt when you buy those processed cups :/ So, next time make your own, or at the grocery store, look at the ingredient label on that yogurt cup. And then opt for the large tub of plain yogurt that ONLY lists 'cultured grade A milk' as the ingredient. Yes, it's tangy and you probably won't like it. Simple solution - dump in some of your own, homemade jam or fruit butter, some homemade granola, and I promise you it will be even better than they strawberry cheesecake flavored yogurt cup you set back on the shelf!

There is a lot more I want to talk about on this subject, but this post is already pretty winded and rambling. So instead, I will leave you for now with one awesome book recommendation - Real Food, by Nina Planck. And share with me your thoughts on Real Food.


Susan said...

Allison, have you seen, "Fast Food Nation?" It gets me on my soap box just knowing how they lure our kids (and families) into thinking convenience is good! I have hoped, through my blog, that it isn't that much harder to turn fresh ingredients into healthy dishes--and don't our children deserve that!
Thanks for the statistics. People need to wake up to what they're eating. Love, XOXO

Vanessa said...

I don't think of hippies I think of real people like you and me when I think of real food. But I often can feel people wanting to roll their eyes at me when I talk about the way we eat. I completely understand how you feel. We started our real food journey about 2 years ago. I have tried eating some of the things I used to and I just can't anymore because I have reprogrammed my taste buds and I now know what good food tastes like and can taste the chemicals and crap in the processed stuff that I couldn't before.

I hate that our food system is based on big corportations making money and not on real nutrition. I know that convenience food could be made way more healthy. I get furious that we care more about buy materialistic things and are willing to shell out big bucks for those things but aren't willing to spend an appropriate amount of money of food raised properly.

You are preaching to the choir here!


Really? People put better fuel in their cars than in their bodies. I would like to think real food gets the best results to fuel my temple. It can't be labeled "real" for me to consider it so. Real to me is growing my own - as much as possible. I simply don't trust marketers of "real", "organic", "green" foods. I'm such a cynic.

Camille said...

It is so scary to me that we need to pick and choose through our food to find what is real. It is sad to me that the growing, preparation and consumption of real food is optional, and for some, a dying art. One of my life's regrets is that I never learned to cook real food from my grandmother, simply because I didn't need to. I'm hoping to bridge that gap with my kids and I enjoy watching others doing the same. What a thoughtful post, Allison!

Jen said...

The statistics on hunger are heartbreaking but on the flip side, it breaks my heart to see so many overweight children. YOUNG children and it isn't their fault!

Mary said...

Great post, Allison. Rambling thouhts are a good thing when they get your point across so well. I agree with you. REAL food = less convenience foods. Period. Grow as much as you possibly can and then learn to read ingredient lists people, NOT just the nutritional info!