Monday, May 2, 2011

Eating Well as a Family of Three

Last November, I wrote about Eating Well on a Budget of $190/month, and posted an update in December. I wanted to revisit this topic, as it's at the core of what I'm hoping for here at Concrete Gardener.

There is a lot of theory around how we eat-- that there's not enough world for everyone to eat organic happy food (I disagree)-- that good food is expensive and that it may be more helpful to redistribute money so that at least everyone can eat. The arguments behind these ideas are  interesting and important at the systems level. But when I step out of the abstract and into our family, certain things are true: we could eat only local, sustainably produced food, but we don't. And we give part of our money away, but money does not translate to people eating, at least not in a linear way.

Our weighing of what to eat depends a lot on our context, and what's taking our time and energy. We arrive with so very many assumptions of what's normal and what's not.  Those baseline assumptions take time to change, so while I think we have to be radical, we can't do everything all at once, and that's ok.

I thought a good illustration of this was in the counterpoint between these articles on two of my favorite blogs: The Frugal Girl and Nourished Kitchen.

Over at The Frugal Girl, the considerations are: What will my family actually eat and enjoy? and What is affordable?

Over at Nourished Kitchen, the question is: What will make or keep me healthy?

The two perspectives aren't mutually exclusive. But if all your reading tends towards one thing, then that one thing can seem super important. For example, South Africans in my immediate circle don't necessarily eat super healthily, but they also don't overeat, they're not as busy (read: stressed) as Bostonians, and they exercise like crazy (for fun?!). Which has health implications that we can't really measure in a linear way.  Because people live more slowly, consuming paper goods is pretty unusual, which has waste/sustainability implications.

As I think more about what our family eats, I'm weighing cost, waste/trash, sustainability, our own health-- in the short term and the long term, and what we like to eat. Pppphhhew! It's almost enough to make one long for simpler times, when New Englanders had to store root vegetables in the basement to survive the winter. Almost.

Which brings me back to my evolving personal philosophy around food, informed my Michael Pollan and Nourished Kitchen and the Slow Food movement and others.
1) Give as much time to food prep as possible (i.e make food from scratch)
2) Buy one ingredient food items wherever possible.
3) Money spent on good, local milk, fruits and vegetables is money well spent. That said, we have higher priority items (milk) and lower priority items (onions).
4) Don't go crazy with the meat, but when you eat meat, make it special.
5) Don't worry about fat, but buy good oils (canola, olive).
I'm sure this will change over time as we uhhh...grow up?... but this is where we are right now.

How is your food philosophy evolving?

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