Sunday, January 3, 2010

resolutions and year in review

We spent the past few days in Chicago visiting my sister & her husband and seeing their new place (which is absolutely beautiful). We drove up with some friends and spent the majority of the car ride discussing food - more specifically local food vs. organic, CSAs, gardening and the slow food movement. We had the most relaxing time - playing games, watching movies and even venturing out in the frigid temperatures (5 degrees outside, but felt like -15!). I feel relaxed and rejuvenated and excited to begin a new year full of fresh new recipes to share with you!

We spent our last night there watching Food, Inc. This movie has been on our "to watch" list for a while but since we're not big movie watchers, we didn't get around to it until now. If you haven't seen this movie, we highly recommend it. I will let Brad give the review of the film since he's much more articulate than I, but it was the perfect reminder for why we've decided to make this change.

With it being a New Year, I want to give a little recap of our past year. We've had many of you, our readers, asking the same questions: Why did we change our eating habits and isn't it expensive to eat this way. I will try to answer these questions below.


Last December we watched the movie Fast Food Nation which fanned the flame that had already been lit in me regarding food. After this movie I swore off meat and began reading labels even more. The swearing off of meat lasted until my next trip to the grocery store and I was still stuck in my same rut of grocery shopping - buying fat free this and sugar free that (all with ingredient lists as long as my arm). In January, Brad and I made the resolution to start shopping at Nature's Bin and do less shopping at major grocery stores where we weren't sure where our "food" came from. This resolution along with reading a few books on food launched us into a new lifestyle even we couldn't have anticipated.


We started slowly. We stopped buying processed foods and replaced with homemade where possible. We planted a garden (about a $100 investment) and reaped the rewards of the garden all summer long into October. We supplemented with a CSA. Here are a few changes we made with our grocercies:

  • Homemade bread instead of store bought
  • Homemade Granola instead of $3-$4/box of cereal
  • Fresh fruits & veggies instead of granola bars for snacks
  • Dried fruits & nuts instead of sun chips
  • Organic milk instead of regular*
  • Lentils, beans & grains instead of poultry & meat**
  • Homemade whole wheat pancakes instead of store bought waffles

*This was the hardest one for me, $5/gallon instead of $2! It all evens out though...we aim to spend $50/week on groceries and we've been able to keep this our average.

**We occasionally buy meat (less than once a month, perhaps more during the grilling season) and we buy organic or local.

I assume you visit our blog because you have an interest in eating more organically/locally and yes, even economically so I hope this helps you see how easy it can be to change.

Food, Inc. Review

written by Brad

Happy New Year everyone! Sarah's pressing me into service even though she saw the movie too and I'm watching the Cavs, but here goes...

This was a very powerful, interesting, and, to be honest, disgusting film. But that's largely because America's food system is, well, powerful, interesting, and disgusting. I won't go into great detail, because I want you to see it, but there were a lot of very surprising facts in the movie: so much of what we eat is corn, reorganized; 90% of the soybeans grown in the US are patented by the chemical company Monsanto to be resistant to their popular herbicide RoundUp (watch the movie then browse Monsanto's website; a fascinating juxtaposition); the conditions most of the animals we eat have to live in are (insert retching noises)... most commercial chickens, for example, from large names you know, are engineered to grow so fast and so large (from hatch to your supermarket in 7 weeks) that their organs can't keep up, and many can hardly walk by the time they're killed.

Not everybody cares about the lives of the animals we eat, I know, but the broader aim of the movie is to make us rethink our food policy as a nation, and our food choices as individuals. Why is it that a Big Mac is cheaper than a head of broccoli when obesity and related diseases are at epidemic levels? Why does the government subsidize and encourage overproduction of corn, just so it can be reconstituted into so many things that are making us unhealthy? Why has our food policy for years been determined by people who work for the 3 or 4 huge food conglomerates that dominate the system?

But the movie offers hope, and it just may lie, after all, with large corporations. Above all else, they want to make money. They don't hate healthy, wholesome food... but our nation's food policy and eating habits make it more profitable for them to make unhealthy, unwholesome food. But we can vote, with our dollars, for change. As the movie describes, even Wal-Mart, the most-maligned of huge corporations, now offers organic products... either they've had a moral awakening, or their customers are starting to demand healthier food choices.

Watch the movie, read some books, and make your own choices. If you want to make a change, you're in luck: there are more options to eat better now than at any time in the last 40 years, and more sources of information, too. If you think you can't afford to eat healthier, I say, quite frankly... bullsh*t. Drink water instead of Coke, and that makes up the difference between organic milk and milk from cows that live in filth and are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics. Cut out one or two servings of meat each week, and you can afford all the organic produce, legumes, and grains you could want. Plant a garden this spring and and eat free vegetables for months.

Just educate yourself, and think about how what you eat affects your body and the planet. Email me if you want some resources or have some questions... by no means do I have all the answers, but I can probably help you find them. Or better yet, shop at a farmer's market or join a CSA and shake hands with the people who grow your food.


Our New Years resolution is to dig even deeper into food, specifically where it comes from and to do our best in making the right choices regarding what we allow to enter our bodies. What's yours?


Annika said...

Hi Sarah,
What a wonderful blog! I am so excited that I found it. My husband and I have resorted to shopping almost solely at our neighborhood farmers market for the past year. I am very interested in learning more about the healthiest and most economical/ecologically friendly ways to purchase the other items that you can't get at your farmer's market. I had to make a quick run into our supermarket today for some emergency items to make dinner and I was appalled when I was looking at all the labels. I usually make my own stocks and broths, but didn't have the time today and looking at the labels of the stock at the store made my heart race with anxiety. I can't believe what they put in there! I'm looking forward to reading more :) Thank you for sharing your insights!

Mary and Justin said...

Good overview of the movie. I think I've convinced Justin of only organic milk for us, also less meat.
Miss you guys!