In January of 2009 my husband, Brad, and I decided to change our eating habits. Looking back we had been gearing up to change our food habits for a while – we joined local food Cleveland, read various Michael Pollan books, watched all the trendy films and talked a lot about how we wanted to change but as with a lot of things in life, we didn’t do anything. I’m not sure what the final straw was, but something just clicked with us that particular new years and we decided to take action.
It’s not that we ate particularly bad before, it just depends on your definition of bad. We thought we ate pretty healthy, but then we starting reading the labels of our ‘healthy’ processed foods. Besides fruits & veggies, our typical trip to the grocery store used to include lots of processed foods – low fat granola bars, pretzels or sun chips, fat free yogurt, pita bread (with way too many ingredients), laughing cow cheese, cottage cheese (holy sodium!), canned soup (holy sodium again!), instant oatmeal, cereal, pre-made turkey burgers, pre-made Italian sausages, wheat bread (once again with way too many ingredients), ground turkey, chicken, concentrated juice, fat free instant pudding...etc. Once we started reading the labels we got a little concerned at all the unidentifiable ingredients in the foods we were putting in our bodies. I believe it is in one of Michael Pollan’s books he says if something has more than 5 ingredients in it, he won’t eat it. We decided to try out this rule, as well as his motto “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” and started shopping at our local health food grocery store, signed up for a plot in our community garden and so our food journey began.
It started off as a way to save on our grocery bill and of course, as a way to be a little healthier, but we soon realized we didn’t miss meat much. We still occasionally buy it and enjoy it in social settings, but we gave up our weekly pound of ground turkey & boneless, skinless chicken breasts we used to buy and haven’t missed it. We enjoyed the search for vegetarian dishes and have discovered some of our most favorite meals. We swapped cereal for homemade granola or oatmeal, canned soup for homemade, pretzels & sun chips for veggies with homemade hummus & black bean dip, meatloaf/assorted chicken dinners for lentil loaf (try it, absolutely delicious!), veggie stir fries, homemade soups, homemade veggie burgers, and an assortment of lentil or bean dishes. We found not only have we saved on our grocery bill, we feel better too. The more we explored our new eating habits the more we realized how important local food was to us so we signed up for a community garden plot and have been able to enjoy the fruits of our labor the past few years....amazing how much more delicious and ‘real’ your food tastes when it comes from your own backyard.