If you missed my last post, you can read about my five core beliefs about food. I’m breaking them down a little bit more in this series that will run over the course of about two weeks. I’m calling it the “eat real food” series. Original, right?
The thing about my core beliefs is that they all run together. I can’t talk about eating real food without talking about organic or small farms. I can’t talk about eating real grains without talking about traditional practices of fermentation. So this series will combine the beliefs I discussed in hopefully some kind of format that makes sense.
A lot of people in my little world ask me about food. I often hesitate to talk about it because sometimes people get weird about it. Or think that we won’t eat what they offer us for dinner. Or watch me closely to see if I break “the rules” (I do by the way). But I’m throwing out that mentality since I jumped into this blogging thing. When I talk about what I believe, it really comes down to eating real food.
Real food? As opposed to fake food?
Some people don’t even realize that fake food exists. And if you’re one of those people, I hate to be the one to break it to you. But I will. Because I’m nice like that.
This is the place where many people want to stop reading. Or close their ears a bit because they really don’t want to know that they might not be eating real food. Or they actually don’t care if they aren’t.
I do understand that this can be overwhelming and depressing to take in a lot of new information at once. The world of learning about food and realizing that you have to relearn what you know, or that you have so many changes to make that you’re overwhelmed by it all, can make you want to give up. It’s frustrating learning how broken our food system is and how there are many companies with lots of money who are quite happy your ears are closed.
Take a deep breath, friends. Relax. I’m not going to criticize all your food choices. Most likely, anyway.
My main goal in telling you what I believe and why I believe it is for education. Education is power, right? So they more you know and understand about why this food topic is so important, they more power you have to make the best choices you can for your family.
And remember, these are my beliefs and humble opinions (based on lots of years of trying things out and research). So I assume since you’re still reading you are curious what I have to say.
Let’s get to it, finally, shall we?
Many foodies have fun names for food that’s not real. You might hear them called “franken-food,” or “pseudo-food,” or my personal favorite, “food based products.” I’ll use that term because I like it, and heck, it’s easy to abbreviate. (FBP’s)
The reason that these FBP’s get a bad rap is for good reason. When you go to the grocery store and walk through the aisles, you are mostly buying FBP’s. They have been heated, dried, bleached, stripped of natural nutritional value and formed to look like real food you can make at home. One glance at the long list of ingredients, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that eating many of these FBP’s is more like eating a science experiment than actual food.
But we eat them anyway. While I’ve seen different statistics, about 3/4 of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is processed food. And about 80% of what we eat here is banned in other countries because of GMO’s and additives that are allowed here but not in other countries. We’ll get to that another day.
Boxed mac and cheese, cereal, crackers, cookies, frozen pizza and other processed FBP’s might be convenient and even tasty, but they come at a cost. Think about it for a minute. Processed food has really only been around for less than 100 years, Before then, there was no running to the store to get pre-made food. You had to cook it at home. From scratch. With real ingredients. We’ve survived as people for much longer on real food than on processed food.
Does that mean you shouldn’t ever eat FBP’s? That would be just about impossible unless you’re a total purist. While we’ve cut most processed food from our diet, there are still a few things we buy. I look closely at the ingredient lists and try to be selective with which brands and options I choose. Let’s face it. Even if the box says organic mac and cheese, it’s still a processed food.
Let me be real here for a second. I can’t talk about eating real food without confronting what I consider to be a really big hurdle that you have to get over when it comes to eating real food. So important that I’m addressing it now, before we even talk about what I consider to be real food. Because I know as you read, one thought is going to be running through your mind. “This is all fine and good. But I don’t have time for this.”
There. I said it.
And I know it’s true because I’ve been there. And I’ve heard moms say it. “I buy what’s easy, quick, and cheap.” Is that you too? Don’t feel bad if it is. But my hope is that as you read this series, you’ll recognize the importance of why eating real food is worth the time sacrifice.
Honestly, I hate the time excuse. For anything in life, not just food. And I’ve used the excuse, because really, I don’t have time either. But what I’ve found to be true in my own life is that I will make time for what’s important to me.
None of us has any extra time from what I’ve seen as I look around. We’re busy, busy, busy…too busy if you ask me. But if we really want a new pair of jeans, we’ll make the time to shop. If we really like to work out, we’ll make the time for the gym or to go for a run. If we really want a date night, we’ll carve out a night. None of us really has time for it, but we do it because it’s important to us.
It’s the same with food.
If you want to do a better job eating real food, it will require some time management. But trust me, once you get started, it gets easier. Here are the ways I break down the sacrifice of time to get you thinking about it a little bit.
time to plan
Eating real food requires that you know what you are making in advance. This way you can make sure to have your shopping done and you can plan meals around what staples you have and what fresh things you need. I go in stages of when I’m really good and really bad at planning meals. I promise you though, when I am planned with what our meals are going to be, everything runs a bit more smoothly. Planning ahead might mean sitting down once a week or so to write down what you’ll eat that week. It might mean searching for new recipes or homemade snacks to make. I’ll be happy to share how I do that in a future post.
time to cook
Cooking real food from scratch requires thinking ahead a bit to how long a meal might take. It means you can’t take out chicken at 6:00 and expect to eat at 6:30. It means you spend time chopping vegetables, cutting fruit, and soaking grains. In the growing season in might mean taking time to preserve the season by freezing or canning. It means if you’re baking bread, you can’t do that 10 minutes before eating (because that would mean you’re opening some canned biscuits).
If you don’t like to cook, I understand that you might have some hard time with motivation. I know people who don’t like to cook but find simple meals to make. You might find as you try out some things, it’s not so bad. There are plenty of days I don’t feel like cooking, but we need to eat. So, cooking has to happen.
time to learn
There’s so much to learn when it comes to eating well. There are great books, websites, blogs, and organizations that write about this stuff. Even though I’ve been at this thing for the better part of 13 years, I still can’t keep up. There’s stuff I want to learn more about. There’s stuff I’ve learned but haven’t put into practice consistently. But it’s important to take some time each week to do some reading. Even if it’s 15 minutes just once a week, it’s a start. Join a mailing list for a blogger (my button is to the right…wink, wink). Join a mailing list for an organization like Organic Consumers Association or Environmental Working Group. I’ll make other recommendations in the future. You might find you’re a bit like me and you get a little obsessive and spend a bit too much time reading.
At first, it seems like a lot. But like I said before, eating well, eating real, is a journey. Nothing consistently good happens overnight. It takes some work. It takes a few small changes and a few big changes that all add up. In the end, it’s all up to you anyway. You have the beautiful choice of making changes, or not. It’s really up to you.
What do you think takes the most time in this journey?