I’ve been watching a lot of food related documentaries lately. Some awesome ones I recommend checking out: Supersize Me, Food, Inc., and Food Matters. The messages of all are pretty close to the same thing. We are what we eat. I know lots of people who probably think I’m a snob for my choices. Maybe they feel that I’m putting down their choices, and in turn them as well. Maybe they are feeling guilty about their choices or perhaps they just flat out don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s the same with all choices in life, something I’ve learned a lot about since deciding to bring a child into the world, and it’s something I’ve talked about here before. Whether it’s about education, diapers, nighttime parenting, carseats, nursing, vaccinations, or even, in this case, food, the most important thing to me is that people make informed decisions. It’s not up to me to make sure they do, but this past year has taught me that many people do NOT make informed choices, yet they criticize me for the ones that I make. I’ve never been one to follow the heard. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of trends that I L-O-V-E but that doesn’t mean that I jump every time someone tells me to.
One thing that I’ve heard a lot of is, “But I did that and I’m perfectly healthy” or “I eat those things and I’m fine.” The thing about this is that I’ve never once heard a healthy person say it. Every single person who has ever said this to me has a myriad of health issues. If people just started eating healthy, real foods I think they would see drastic, positive changes in their health without ever having to take a pill. What I love most about these documentaries is the way the facts are presented to the audience: with personal accounts. It makes me feel like I can relate to them more, like that could easily be me there. Food documentaries make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It lets me know that people still care about the food system in this country. It lets me know that I am not alone in being totally freaked out by GMO’s. it lets me know that there is nothing “yuppie” or weird about shopping at the farmer’s market or about spending a little more money on organics and local food.
So. Why organic and why local? It’s fresher, it tastes better, and its healthier. There have never been any health scares related to organic foods when grown properly. Organic food isn’t linked to cancer studies. Or high blood pressure. Or diabetes…I could go on and on. yet so many people I know shun them or say they can’t afford them or it’s too expensive to eat healthy. It isn’t! Trust me, my little family is on a very tight budget. VERY. We mostly live paycheck to paycheck. We do manage to put away savings a little at a time. We don’t eat out often (I’d prefer to have dinner at home anyway), we don’t buy a lot of silly things. But we do spend our money on fun things from time to time. We do have a pretty nice roof over our heads, and we have a well-working (knock on wood) car that we love. But at the top of our priorities list is the food we eat. It’s what nourishes our bodies and keeps us healthy. It’s what help us overcome a cold or sickness without loading up on antibiotics and other pharmaceuticals that make our bodies weak. Don’t get me wrong, we (and by we I mean “I”) indulge in plenty of sweets. But for the most part I go without and I don’t feel the least bit deprived. I don’t buy soda and rarely buy juice. I would rather drink water. I like the taste of it. I like the way it makes me feel cleansed. And it literally does cleanse us. Water is so important yet not too many people drink enough of it, or if they do, they feel the need to flavor it with lots of sugar and artificial flavorings. The worst of all of these is artificial sweeteners. Soda is a perfect example. And diet soda is even worse! Why not just drink water? Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve really ever had a boring meal that was also organic. You can cook and prepare it just like any other meal. As for local food, the answer is simple. Everyone wins here, as well. We get fresher food and get to support friends and small farms. These farms have better business practices than the big corporations. The have connection to the land they work and it means something to them at the very core of their beings. I like the idea of supporting and perpetuating that so that future generations can enjoy it.
Meat is a whole other topic that I could literally spend days on. Instead of getting into detail here, I just suggest watching the films I mentioned at the beginning of this post. There is so much information out there about organic meat vs. what you can buy at a conventional grocery store. There is also a ton of information out there about vegan vs. animal based diets. I was a vegetarian for years but ate all of the “wrong” foods. I wasn’t putting the right vitamins and nutrients into my body and my body reacted by always being sick, never having any energy and being depressed. We don’t eat a lot of meat. This includes fish. I probably feature it in our weekly menu plan about once a week, sometimes not at all. I would choose a veggie stir-fry with brown rice over a steak any day.
I may have a soapbox about a lot of things, but I like to be informed. I like to know that I have strong evidence behind my choices. I like knowing that the food I’m putting into my son’s growing body is going to nourish him and help him grow into a healthy and strong person. It’s the same reason I fought at this nursing gig when other people told me I should just give up. Depending on the ingredient on your list the price of organics can seem a bit daunting at first but we’ve found that there isn’t a significant discount when we get to the register of the grocery store to check out. It’s all about planning ahead and knowing what to look for. We buy organic because it tastes better. We get more nutritional value out of it and at the same time our environment is benefiting. It can only be a good thing and we’ll continue to do it! I hope other people can find the value in making these changes. too.