Saturday, November 17, 2012
For starters this is way overdue for me. Erin has been on me to contribute for awhile. Since we talk about this adventure a lot at home, she felt I should write down my view of what has been going down in the cooking/eating aspect of our lives. So here you have it. I've covered a lot of ground in my head about what to write, but the first thing that I think of when I think about food is quality. To most people it is not important. Speed and convenience are king. I used to be in that category and felt like I wasn't overweight, as well as I ate pretty healthy. I felt like I made a little effort by not eating much fast food and making decent choices when we did. The problem was I was eating the bottom of the pile as far as quality food goes. Subway and Sonic, although convenient and cheap on the front end were not the best options for helping my rig go. Getting past fast food, the items we would buy at the grocery store were mostly convenience items or frozen versions of meals that were already cooked and had lost a lot of nutritional value. We had no idea how much better it could taste if we made a similar version from fresh ingredients or from scratch. We keep talking about the many facets of the local/seasonal diet and it hurts me that it took so long for us to figure it out or learn what we have in the past 5 months. The most important facet is our health. With Eliza growing so fast, she needs quality nutrition for those quickly dividing cells and to have a solid foundation for all things ahead. We hope she continues responsible eating once she has to decide for herself. I'm very proud of how she eats at 4 years old and her mother is mostly to praise for that. Erin made all of Eliza's baby food and quite honestly that was the catalyst for all of us to start eating better. Our food journey really began 4 years ago with the revelation that we wouldn't feed this food to our child, so why were it eating it ourselves? After many meals out, it has become obvious to me that quality of food is not always very important. I just assumed that other people would make changes if they knew what we knew, but this it not the case. It's interesting to see the assumption that this is a natural order of growing up, but it seems that choosing what to eat is more about habits and lifestyles than anything else. Further, the definition of quality when talking about food is very subjective. We really don't eat out much anymore but when we do, we try to make it local. For us that means 2 things: the mom and pop local, or small businesses, but also trying to limit what we eat to food made within 100 miles of us as much as we can. We have tried to find restaurants that share our values of local/seasonal produce and meat and we have found several. Mitchell's Deli in East Nashville is a favorite of ours. It is a dollar or so more per person than say Panera Bread but the quality of the food served is top notch. Given the choice I can't imagine anyone would rather go to Panera Bread when Mitchell's is available. The food didn't ride on a truck across the country and the majority of the produce and meat came from local farms. (We are big fans of their potato salad with Benton's bacon, for example.) The same is true for Burger Up. It's a few dollars more than other burger joints, but the beef is so fresh they claim you could eat it raw and not get sick. Pretty sure others would not make that claim. It's interesting to me that buying local food is so closely linked to supporting small businesses. I have learned that spending a little more money on our food to get local items has been very fulfilling. I've been able to meet some of the people that grow the food I buy as well as experience their passion for what they do. These farmers put lots of sweat and hard work into growing non-modified produce and raise chickens and pigs that run free and eat what God meant for them to eat. I have great respect for that. If everyone supported local farms instead of cafo beef from grocery stores and fast food the economy would likely be a different picture. Unfortunately quality isn't important anymore. As far as our health/energy, Erin and I haven't felt better. Our energy level is as high as it's been since we've known each other. We aren't crashing at 6:30 with fatigue, rather at 10-11 at night we still have gas in the tank to tackle the dishes or laundry even after starting the day at 5-6 am. I feel better than I have my whole life and I'm in better shape than I was after 3 years of running cross country in high school. I can't speak enough about how great it is to eat local and seasonal. Try it! Know where your food comes from and enjoy the journey of finding local farms that allow visits and help spread wealth and wisdom within your community.