Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 182

On Thursday it will be 6 months since I started this blog. When I began I had a readership of 1 (me) and a lofty goal: No more processed foods.

I have likened this year of my blog to pregnancy and the various trimesters you go through. In the first trimester of pregnancy, you make big changes like getting used to the idea of being a mother, and you give up wine and unpasteurized cheese and the like. The changes are big picture changes and they change who you are, but you still don't fully understand what the future will be like. In the second trimester you start feeling more confident about telling people your big news, you read and understand more about what is happening to you. Also it becomes more real to you. In the third trimester you are a pregnancy pro, you have altered your life and become as ready as you possibly can for the arrival of your baby. You are busy doing the actionable things like buying diapers and preparing for birth. In the fourth trimester (yes there really is a fourth trimester-look it up), you have delivered your baby and you have become a mother. You are learning to care for this being who has now begun its own life outside of your womb. All the planning and reading and preparation have come to fruition, but the final transition can still be rocky and stressful.

A few months ago I wrote a recap of my first trimester. I included all the things that we had done to make some big changes in what we ate. The second trimester, I said, I wanted to get better and more refined at what we were doing. I wanted to build habits that could be continued for life. I wanted to have more knowledge about the impact food has on us. How did I do with my goals?

I began my second trimester of food change (and blogging) focused on actual things that we were changing in our life, moving even further away from refined, pre-packaged and convenience foods, toward local organic ingredients,more whole foods. Overall we began eating more simply and healthfully. What also happened was that I defined who I was. I declared myself a Practical Real Food Person, meaning that I delved into the Real Food Movement, but reconciled with that movement where I am today as a working woman and modern eater. I strongly feel that the Real Food People have gotten it right about nutrition. They are eating a healthful diet that is kind to the environment and the healthiest thing we can possibly eat, as well as being delicious. Their science is right on the money. The only problem I see, is availability and the over arching zeal of those in the movement.

Many Real Food Devotees know that their approach is the right one. But the message of the importance of organics, grass fed meats, fermentation as well as enzymes derived from raw foods has not gotten picked up in the widespread media just yet. While the following is growing, It is not one that has jumped out of the fringe foodie world and into Self Magazine. The average American is just starting to hear about organics and their importance, but home fermentation is still met with doubt. That being said I am a hard critic of the Real Food Movement in their insistence that they are right about everything food related; even though they are. I bet that alot of people who read about Real Food are so overwhelmed about how poor their Standard American Diet is in comparison, that they just shut off and won't listen. Any kind of overly zealous selling tends to backfire. I am a big proponent of the soft sell technique. And those of us preaching Real Food should do better with meeting people where they are today. We need to get build the demand for 100% grass fed meats and natural saturated fats and organic small scale produce so that they are available in every grocery store across the country. That is why I stood up and said I am a Practical Real Food Person. I want everyone who reads this blog to feel encouraged to continue reading and begin making changes in their life. Small changes today lead to big changes tomorrow. I don't want anyone to read in this blog and feel the changes are too overwhelming to even try. Everyone has to start somewhere.

Availability is another major issue. In New York, organics are EVERYWHERE. But elsewhere in the country people don't even have basic access to organics at their local grocery store. And if you can't buy it then you can't eat it. Part of what I preach is to try and help folks make the best choices within the choices that they have. Most people in the media talk about the cost of organic food as being prohibitive. And while that is the root cause of why organics don't appear on every store shelf in the US, the truth is there are people out there who could afford organics or would bend their budget to do so. But because the grocery stores don't stock organic foods, people simply don't have access to then. I don't want these people to be left out of the Real Food movement. I want them to be so angry that they talk to their stores and demand special beef orders, or even organize their own farmer's markets. We have to take action.

In terms of the foods I have been focusing on this trimester...We switched all our oils over to unrefined saturated fats, and still use some mono-unsaturated oils like sunflower. All the highly processed corn and canola and soybean oils got the boot, as did products that contained them. (Can someone start a company that fries potato chips in coconut oil?? Please??) I also did an attack on refined sugar. I am using it less and less in my home kitchen and we are buying less and less products that contain it. I have begun to replace it with natural sweeteners like dried fruits and the like. Overall I really feel like I have kicked the sugar monster, not everyone in my family is there quite yet, but we have made tremendous strides. I also have my eye on fall and winter fruits and vegetables. I am committing to eating seasonally as much as is possible throughout the winter. So far it is going well. We have eaten sweet potatoes and squash every week for the last couple week, and the Things are getting used to the new heavier flavors and textures. One day at a time, one day at a time.

For my Third Trimester...I am happy with where I am with food. And I will continue to write about individual foods and post simple recipes. But I would like to spend my third trimester discussing some things of historical significance. I want to know how our food evolved to a place where virtually everyone in my age group is overweight or obese. How did we become a nation that describes Doritos as delicious? Why do we accept cheese in a can with a nozzle? Where did it start? Why did it go wrong? How did lousy processed food evolve? And how can we get out of this mess before everyone comes down with diabetes and heart disease?

Any suggestions on where to begin? What do you want me to write about?


  1. Sounds fascinating! There are a couple of books related to this that I would love to read, but haven't, yet. Have you checked out any of these?

    -- Harvey Levenstein's "Paradox of Plenty: A Social History of Eating in Modern America"
    -- Laura Shapiro’s "Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America"
    -- Vandana Shiva's "Stolen Harvest:
    The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply"

    If you want to wait on the books, check out Ms. Magazine's article on "Food, Farming ... Feminism? Why Going Organic Makes Good Sense ("http://www.msmagazine.com/summer2004/organicfarming.asp) for a start.

    Have fun!

  2. Yeah, we've both been transformed this year!

  3. Thanks Abbi for the book suggestions!!! They sound interesting.