My Food Journey

Food.  We all eat it.  We all need it.

Food can nourish our bodies or pollute our bodies. It can improve our health or it can make us sick.  It can be be treasured and appreciated, or it can be taken for granted and abused.

Each person’s journey with food starts as a young child.  What we learn at home stays with us for the rest of our lives, including our eating habits and our view of food.  For me, that food journey started in the early 1980’s when every kitchen boasted it’s own Fry Daddy and when Spaghetti-O’s were a pantry staple.  Women had gone to work, and convenience food was the much appreciated time-saver they all needed.  This was before the internet, before organic, and before America had awakened to the fact that Fry Daddys and processed foods make us obese and sick.  My mother was not an unusually unhealthy cook, it was just the way of the times.

During high school I used to buy a Pepsi every day during morning break, and sometimes pair that with an order of fried hashbrowns from the cafe across the street.  At lunch I’d chow down on a chili cheese deep-fried burrito and a side of greasy tator tots.  My favorite.  The day was rounded out with a bag of chips or a plate of pizza rolls, and often something like Hamburger Helper or deep-fried chicken strips and french fries for dinner, and of course ice cream or brownies for dessert.  I actually never ate a salad until I was in my 20’s.  My food journey started out on a pretty bleak note.

It was about ten years ago that I first learned that a romaine salad is better for me than a chili cheese burrito with tator tots.  Periodically during my late twenties I would come across some reading that revealed to me the sad truth about processed food.

*Processed foods can cause diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.   Not things I want to have.

*Processed foods are linked closely to obesity.  Not something I want to be.

*Harmful chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, and additives) are in almost all conventional foods to increase production, shelf-life, and decrease things such as pests and weeds.  These chemicals are linked to cancer, endocrine diseases, nerve problems, and a very long list of other undesirable health conditions.  No thanks.

*High-fructose corn syrup (soda) is linked closely with obesity, heart problems, and a list of other health problems.  Not worth it.

*Hydrogenated oils can cause heart disease, cancer, and obesity.  Not for me.  Not for my children.

(Not convinced?  Google it yourself.)

But change does not come overnight, not after a lifetime of addiction to high-fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils.  But slowly, step by step, I have made progress in my food journey.

Some of the steps I have taken are:

*replaced sugar with honey in much of my baking

*bake bread at home, whole wheat with honey

*broke an addiction to soda and caffeine

*never fry, always oven-bake

*cook from scratch, use very few boxed items

*make my own snacks for the kids from scratch

*use grass-fed meat and eggs in our meals

*eat more vegetables – less out of a can, more fresh or frozen

*most recently, buy organic produce and dairy rather than conventional

I think there are endless improvements to make in healthy eating.  From morning smoothie concoctions to using more beans and grains and less meat – but for now, I am happy with the steps I have taken over the last years.  When I set food before my family, I am happy with what they are eating, and that feels great.  Amazingly, the addition of grass-fed meat, eggs, and organic produce and dairy has not increased my grocery bill.  I have stopped piling my cart full of frozen pizzas, little yellow fish crackers, canned and bottled drinks, and boxed quick-fix meals, and started filling it with the whole foods that my family and myself need to maintain healthy bodies.

I buy my grass-fed beef from a local producer who is also a friend in our journey towards our own sustainable farm this year.  It’s only $5/lb for ground beef, just $1 or so more than what I used to pay for corn-fed.  We raise our own pastured chicken and free-range eggs, which we are really enjoying.  The taste is fabulous, and I don’t think we could ever go back to supermarket chicken or eggs.  It would be like eating cardboard when you are used to dining on succulent steaks.  We will be increasing our production this spring and selling both free-range eggs and pastured chicken, and also pastured turkey in the fall.  I’ve been buying my organic dairy (just cheese and occasional cream – we drink organic rice milk) and organic produce from Whole Foods.  While their prices can be pretty good on some items, I would rather buy from a local producer, as most of the produce I bring home from Whole Foods is from Peru or Chile.  I’ve got no beef with Peru or Chile, I’d just rather support a local or regional organic grower, and not have my food flown in from half way around the world.  As spring and summer heat up, it will be easier to do that – and of course, our own back yard garden will be a great source for local produce!

So that’s my story.  I didn’t go into the emotional details or the roller coasters and yo-yos I’ve traveled through with food.  I’d like to say my food journey looked like a slow and steady upward trend graph.  Mine probably looks more like huge mountains and valleys where over time the valleys slowly become less deep, and the overall average of the chart slowly inches up, point by point.  This year’s stability in our life has helped greatly, bringing more of a steady climb on the healthy eating virtual chart rather than a bunch of jagged peaks.

When it comes to healthy eating, healthy is the key word.  Food is a treasure, a gift from God, and something that we should contemplate our own view and relationship with.  I for one, am ready to know what is in my food, to know how it will affect my body and my life, and to choose that food which will empower me to live the life I was made for.

Here’s to good food.

Lacy

 

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Stephanie Haugan on February 7, 2012 at 7:04 am

    Great Blog entry !!! I too have taken the journey you are on and try very hard to eat only whole “real” foods.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Nini on February 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

    The learning curve is one of those mountains, but the info is easily available for those who are seekers. I am thankful that my children care enough to seek…all of them at different times…help us all continue to care and to seek to preserve the health we have and to improve it in the future. I also want to add exercise as something worth investing time and energy in. As I make my way through “the sixties”, I am constantly aware how important having an active life is…to maintain mobility (MY BIG HANGUP), to maintain an energy level to keep up with my grandkids, and to be able to still do the things I want to do …for however long I can. Walking (or other exercise) is the other very important component to good health…along with eating healthy foods.

    Reply

  3. Great post, Lacy! I’m curious….do you think that all of your world travels helped you change your mind concerning healthy food, too?
    I think living overseas helped me have a very different view on where I get my protein from, bread, fruits and vegetables, cooking from scratch and canned goods.

    Reply

    • Maybe, Katie! I sure did eat a lot of different foods out there. And I would say that that my travels did enlighten me on the use of various kinds of protein. I would say though that the books I have read have had the most impact on me. A few of them are: What the Bible Has to Say About Healthy Living, Food and Love (a long time ago), and Eat For Health. Each of those has a different take on nutrition, but many of the same principles. The first one is my favorite. By the way, Katie, thanks for commenting often on my blog. I appreciate it. And it’s good to be in contact with you!

      Reply

  4. Posted by Angela Kahle-Mendoza on February 8, 2012 at 6:01 pm

    Hey Sis! Very thought-provoking blog! I am really examining my relationship with food. Listening to my doctors can be a very scary thing! First to go was all forms of artificial sweetener. I didn’t realize I was slowing my body’s metabolism just to try to save a few calories. Not a good trade. Not to mention the links to many medical problems. I am now trying to cook meals from whole ingredients and include as much fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. I am hoping that starting my children off on a better foot than I did, concerning food, will have a lasting impact. Keep up the good work Lacy! Keep the blogs coming!

    Reply

  5. Food IS a treasure and gift from God!

    On another note, I’ve named you in our own “Versatile Blogger” page – http://bit.ly/xyOEpn. It seems like a good way to recognize and publicize blogs, but please be very assured that I am applying no pressure for you to participate and hold no contempt should you decide not to!

    Thanks for the great blogs!

    Flying T

    Reply

    • I wanted to say thank you for including me in your Versatile Blogger page last month. What an honor! And very unexpected. Sorry I wasn’t able to participate – I have been in the middle of a move! But thanks again so much for the compliment. Lacy

      Reply

  6. I’m just starting to learn about the dangers in some of the foods we eat. It’s confusing and scary. You want to make changes, but it’s hard to do after decades of processed and fast foods. My body is craving some good junk food right now! Baby steps are in order for us. I agree with trying to use less stuff from boxes, more fresh, whole foods. We are starting to farm with pastured poultry/eggs, clean pork and hope to add grass-fed beef soon. Thanks for sharing your story. Good to know we aren’t the only ones thinking it’s time for a change.

    Reply

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