Sunday, July 19, 2009

At the risk of now being overly scrutinized...

I wanted to share some things that I've been thinking about over the past few months.

I joined Weight Watchers to lose weight, yes, but also to just be healthier in general. I realize that I eat cheeseburgers every now and then, and somehow factor in ice cream almost 3 times a week, but I know that I'm learning how to just control my portion sizes.

I've also started thinking a lot about where our food comes from and how it's processed. I've mentioned that Joel and I shop at the farmers' market, more for the cost than for the environmental/social benefits. It helps us stay on budget to buy locally.

However, a few months ago I learned about a study about workers in chicken processing plants in NC and the health problems they suffer. You can find the abstract here.

Joel and I started talking about where our food comes from and the social costs we really don't think about. As Christians, we know the Lord has called us to be loving to our neighbors. One way we feel we can do this is to consider how the least of these in our state are treated, often in indentured servitude-like positions.

We tried buying our groceries at Whole Foods but it got really expensive (of course). But, step by step, we're trying to move towards different ways of buying our food and different meals. I mean, I still need to buy regular chicken and veggies sometimes, but we're trying to slowly introduce organic and locally grown foods. So I realize that if you look at my fridge it won't look like the picture of sustainability, so don't judge me! I just wanted to know if other people out there are also thinking about these things/changing their lifestyles.

Last night, I saw Food, Inc. and it brought up a lot of issues that we've been thinking about for a while. Namely:
-Farmers and plant workers rights
-buying locally to support NC farmers and reduce how much "oil" goes into our food.
-foodborne illness
-chemicals and additives in food that our body isn't used to
-sustainability and the global food crisis

Joel is totally supportive of me looking into this, and today we spend forever looking at the ingredients lists on the food we bought. It was good to just be aware of what we're eating.

It is really challenging to revamp how we do things, though, and balance natural food, health, and a budget. . Here are some examples of the challenges:
-I love to bake, but I want to include ingredients that are low fat, low sugar. So I bought a "buttery spread" on sale that was, calorie-wise, really healthy. But the additives list was ridiculously long. Buying our butter from the farmers' market like we used to do means I compromise health. What to do??
-I wish we could buy meat from grass-fed animals, for the above stated reasons, but it's so expensive. EEK!

Anyway, I'm just on the beginning of my research-journey, and I'm not trying to be all granola-hippy-wacko. But if anyone else is thinking about these things, let me know! I'd love recipes, suggestions, and information!


The Robinsons said...

We think about and discuss this kind of thing almost every time we plan our meals now. Especially with the little one eating more and more solids we are getting very aware of what is going into our food. Things I never thought of before. I know we don't do the "best" we could but it is a step by step process like you said. We try to buy (most, not all) fruits and veggies from local markets, but you still need to be careful that some are from other countries if not in season here. I just bought a couple hundred dollars worth of frozen organic chicken from a wholesaler from which we learned where it came from. (Vacuum packed for long storage) and we did the same with beef...similar to what Jon and Kate did that one time, but we didn't go to the farm...the truck came to us haha. Then when it comes to the low fat stuff I am still at a loss like you. I can't seem to make myself use real butter and sacrifice the nutrition. But I do try to use real sugar and really limit my consumption of fake sugars. Like if I get a sweet tea, I will not use splenda, I will use sugar, but I won't have tea daily.
OK this is too long, sorry for taking over your blog wall. :)

Kathleen said...

I'm with you Dom! It's crazy all the junk that goes into seemingly simple foods. One thing I've learned (which you probably know) is that one of the best ways to avoid all the junk, is to eat whole foods (not necessarily from that store (: ). Just eating whole foods for snacks (carrot sticks, cucumbers, fruits, etc). As far as the sauces and stuff go, which can have the most "junk" in them, there are recipes to make your own so you know exactly what does into them. Anyway, it is crazy. After seeing what diet change has done for me, I am a huge believer that diet could be the culprit for so many "mysterious" health issues. Anyway, you are not alone in your discretion of food. And yes- it has been WAYYY too long since we've seen each other. We need to fix that.