Wednesday, June 30, 2010

it's not easy being green... or is it really that hard?



I know, I know. I don't really discuss this topic often, since I never, ever want to come off preachy. ;-) But, I had a question in my comments on my salad recipe yesterday that made me want to touch on it a bit today... I'm not really going to talk much about all of the "green" things we do in our daily lives like recycling, re-using, carrying our own re-usable shopping bags {read here for some nasty statistics on those... not to mention the amount of oil, yes, oil -  that is wasted to create them every year}, filtering our water instead of buying bottled, driving fuel efficient vehicles, and using plant based instead of chemical based cleaners and detergents... What I did want to talk about today is

eating organic.

Why? How long have we been doing it? How did we make the changes? Was it tough?  All great questions...

As for the why, one great place to start is with this book... Though I have done lots of research for many years before reading this book, it's a great place to start with some really solid research. If  you've never before looked into this stuff, it will really open your eyes... and yes, we ate some of these junk foods growing up - but guess what? The amount of chemical preservatives and additives that they put into them today has grown exponentially. So sad.

Fortunately for myself and my husband, we didn't grow up with a lot of junk food. My parents were both raised on farms in the midwest - though we didn't live on one. When we needed meat, we contacted one of my aunt and uncles. They still lived on a farm - and they'd let us know when they had something ready. Cow, pig, chickens... they'd butcher the animal, and send it to the locker. Then we'd tell them the cuts that we wanted. We knew where our food had been from the time it had been born. Where it was raised, what it was fed, and how it was cared for. That's important! Especially today! We also got our eggs from them. And sweet corn. We had a large garden that we cared for in the summers and we spent a lot of time canning and preserving what we harvested. We went to the strawberry fields in the summer and picked flats full - and then made our own jam.

My husband wasn't raised here in the states. His mother went to market and bought their food. They didn't eat things that were processed because they weren't there! lol They were happy and healthy...

When? We made our switch to all organics five years ago. I admit it. I strayed. I was pulled in by the lure of how inexpensive it is to shop for conventional foods. What prompted it? Oddly enough, I stumbled onto this lady - Nigella Lawson. At the time she had a 30 minute program on the Style Network. I loved her attitude and style. She renewed my love of cooking/baking for me. {I had spent several years in the industry and gotten burned out...}I have to say, I love her writing style. She was a food writer for Vogue magazine for many years before writing her own books, and her candid writing style is fresh. She tells you in the intro of her first book that she hopes that it reads like she's in your kitchen having a conversation with you while you're cooking. I love it. Anyway, in her books, she talks a quite a bit about using organic foods. That sort of caught my attention. Someone so hip, young and fresh talking about organics? She wasn't any hippie or strange hermit living on a mountain!
That's when I really started doing my research. Which continues today still. I'm constantly learning about what we eat and ways to be healthier. :) {though it it important to NOT become obsessed with these things as important as they are! ;)}

How did we make the changes?
~  Some things just got tossed. Don't beat around the bush. Don't tell yourself you can't waste that... most of the things that junk foods are made from are just that: junk. They're not even food. So toss 'em.
~ Find good substitutes for things. You can buy just about anything organic these days. It's best to stick with whole foods, but when you're making that transition, it makes it easier. Instead of fruit snacks with food coloring, flavoring and high fructose corn syrup, grab either fruit leather strips, or organic fruit snacks made from real juice. One of our favorite companies for fruit snacks, organic snack mixes, and alternatives to things like goldfish, is Annie's Homegrown. We try to limit these things as a whole, but these are great alternatives! Stonyfield Farms and Horizon Organics have great products like flavored milks and yogurt tubes that the kids love. They're typically lower in sugar than their conventional counterparts, too. And instead of buying baked goods,  I bake at home. I know everything that goes into it, and when I choose to use all organic ingredients, they're far healthier than their store bought versions.
~ If you have kids, explain things to them! My husband and I made this decision together - I feel so blessed that I have his full support! You need that when you're trying to turn things around in your household. So, when we were changing things around, we talked about the changes we were making. We explained why, and also why it was important. Talk about nutrition and leading a healthy balanced life with your kids. You are their example, and if you teach them now, they'll have the lesson learned for life. I was blessed in that I had taken nutrition, anatomy, and pharmacology classes as a part of nurses training, so I had good foundations in these areas, but anyone can educate themselves. I've learned more since being out of school than I did when I was there!
 ~ Some things can be eased into. Honestly, when we first made the switch to organics, I wasn't about the whole grains. It took time for me to get used that that idea! So, I bought organic white rice, and organic white pastas. I learned how to make bean dishes as a great supplement to our meats, since organics cost a bit more. Now that we've made that switch, I realize just how much I was missing! We now only eat whole grain pasta,  and have incorporated so many other grains like the bulgar from my previous salad recipe post!

Was it tough to make these changes? I'm not gonna lie. Although a lot of things weren't bad at all, it took a bit of time to adjust. Your body is so used to being overstimulated by the chemicals in the food that you eat, that it's all mixed up. It's going to read some organic foods as not having flavor, when that is completely not the case. The cool thing is - that changes over time. I now really can't stand any kind of chips. Doritos? Nope. Cheetos? Nada. Even Sun chips? No, thanks! I put it into my mouth, and my body and taste-buds are overwhelmed to the point of it really not tasting good to me... I don't get hungry for them or crave them, either. Even o ur kids turn then down, and I'm proud of that! ^_^ I'd rather have a bowl of pita chips with cream cheese on the side any day... so will our kids! Or some organic tortilla chips with all natural salsa...

You'll also find out by trying new things, that there is a whole world of really great tasting foods you've been missing out on! Bulgar, couscous, and scores of different beans for us! We already had a really robust diet of fruits and veggies, so we haven't tried too many new ones there, but we're always open!

The bottom line is - don't settle. Make a conscious choice about the way that you live your life. You won't regret it. We haven't for a moment! You deserve to live healthy, and feel good. If anyone's interested, I'd be happy to share some of the great benefits we've experienced because of these changes! I hope these thoughts on our experience have helped or encouraged you today!

4 comments:

Michelle Gotoh Bertuzzi said...

Funny, reading this is like hearing my husband talk. LOL. Yes, as much as possible, we eat organic too & do not eat anything from a box, esp meat! Anyhoo, it's amazing how your body rejects all the crap once you stopped eating them again. Glad to hear you're in the same boat!

Hearthandmade said...

Im glad you touched on this! We eat organic too.. we also try to have a few vegetarian meals in the week also because livestock is one of the biggest causes of waste and carbon emmissions in the world. I dont talk about it much either becuase i dont want to sound preachy either but i love that we are in the same boat!

deana said...

Amen, amen, AMEN!

robin said...

Thanks for this post, Leah. I'm trying so hard to eat healthier and go for more organic stuff. The bill at Whole Foods makes me want to cry sometimes LOL but everything really does taste so much better. :)

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