I haven’t written much in the past several weeks about menu planning or grocery shopping. This is mostly because I am still working on finding my way in the organic world. 🙂 I will admit it has been extremely difficult to switch over to all organic. And it’s not just that we’re eating organic; we’ve also cut back on meats to just a few dinners a week, as well as trying to eat at least 50% raw at each meal. This is tough! I enjoy challenges, though, so it has been fun too.
The cost has been the most challenging. Organic milk is $5.99 a gallon. Organic butter is over $3. Completely organically raised meats start at $3.99/pound.
I have found a few blogs/sites that are dedicated to listing Whole Foods deals, but I haven’t been able to apply the deals yet because of conflicting pay days here and the last dates of the sales.
Here’s the thing, though: those blogs that give deals DO give a lot of great deals for organic foods. I have gone a bit further for our foods and am trying not to buy anything too processed or with too many ingredients. Michael Pollan, author of Food Rules, lists some really great things to consider when buying foods. He goes over the ridiculously long list of ingredients that are sweeteners, even if they aren’t listed as “sugar” or corn syrup on the package. I was shocked! Pollan recommends eating only foods that have 5 ingredients or less. I am trying to stick with 7…and this is because one of the kinds of chips we like has 7 ingredients. 🙂 They are organic with no artificial ingredients, but they have 2 kinds of oils and some seasonings that put the ingredient list up to seven.
So, while I can buy all organic and follow those blogs, I am having trouble with the amount of ingredients in the some of the organic processed foods. Yes, foods can be organic and have a long list of ingredients. They are all organic ingredients, but there can still be sugar additives that our bodies just don’t need.
Here are some of the “rules” I have created for our family. These are what works for us and what we’ve come to like. I don’t think they work for everyone. Each family is different for what is needed or enjoyed. I don’t judge anyone for what they eat. I am simply working on what WE eat because I know how our bodies react to foods.
1. Make everything from scratch. This is tough. I don’t follow it for every single item, but for most of the big stuff I do. Breads, snacks (except those chips we like!), meals, tortillas, desserts, etc. All of those items in store-bought form have so many extra items for preserving, for sweetening, for whatever. If I can’t picture each ingredient growing in the ground (or moo-ing on the pasture), then it’s probably not for us.
2. Only orange juice and only NOT from concentrate. Here’s the thing…juices from concentrate are so watered down then so sweetened up that they aren’t really juice anymore. We prefer the taste of juices not from concentrate. Sure, there’s still sugar in them, but there is less than in others. Also, juice is not a necessity; we just enjoy it and have found the OJ we buy to be the least sugary of the juices offered.
3. Only meats with a rating of 4 or higher (from Whole Foods). I am not a meat snob, but I am easily nauseated by buying anything less than their rating of 4. To see their explanation of the ratings, go HERE. It’s very informative and enlightening. 🙂 This, again, goes back to all the documentaries I have seen and all the footage of what these CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations….look it up here!) look like, and I have a hard time eat as much meat and eating anything that could be from one of these places.
4. Eat more grains, plant protein, whole wheat items. This one has been fairly easy. We’ve broadened our food horizons and eat a variety of items with dinner: millet, barley, quinoa, couscous, pearl couscous, wild rice, arborio rice, brown rice, and others. We have liked each one so far. The fiber in these is incredible, as well as the protein and carb counts. I know some people try to steer clear of carbs, but if you are getting carbs from a basic food source (rather than from a processed food source), they aren’t evil. 🙂 Our bodies were designed to eat these things. If we’re worrying more about the kinds of foods we’re eating rather than which nutrients we’re trying to get or avoid, I think we are better off. Stick with raw foods and food in its basic form, and the carbs won’t even be a problem.
5. Only dairy from cows not given hormones and only fed what they were created to eat. This is another expensive one. Conventionally raised cows are routinely given growth hormones, so they get fatter faster and the big corporations can milk or slaughter them faster and make more money. These hormones are transmitted to us through their milk and meat, so we are essentially eating growth hormones for cows, as well as all the antibiotics these cows get (because they are crowded with hundreds or thousands of other cows into a small area and stand in their fecal matter all day, increasing chances for disease). These hormones and antibiotics are completely unnecessary for us, and it can only do harm to us. Taking antibiotics when we don’t need them only teaches our bodies to build a resistance to them for when we really DO need them. Dangerous! I’m not a doctor or scientist or anything, but would I take an antibiotic from my doctor if I didn’t have an ailment? NO. So, why do I want to take antibiotics in the form of cow’s milk when I don’t need them?
Another factor to consider about cows is how they are fed. Conventionally raised cows are given corn to eat. Cows’ bodies were not created to digest this. They have had to learn to eat it and digest it. Cows were created to eat grass and roam. Crowding them into stalls with a ton of other cows and forced to eat corn and other unnatural things is only going to cause problems.
Purchasing certified organic dairy products ensures we are not ingesting hormones or eating things from cows fed corn or raised to stand in their feces 24/7. Because organic dairy products raises our grocery bill significantly, I have had to cut back on the amount of dairy we take in. We compensate for the protein normally received from meats and dairy by getting plant proteins, so that’s not a problem. Drinking a glass of milk with dinner every night has changed, as well as the amount of cheese we eat. It has worked out well so far, so I am not complaining. I love drinking milk, and it has been an adjustment for me, but I have found some benefits for my kids. Lily has eczema (it almost looked like psoriasis) pretty bad on her elbows. I have noticed that since she quit drinking cows milk every night with dinner, that eczema has started to clear up quickly. She enjoys almond milk and soy milk more regularly. I am surprised that her eczema may have been lactose related, but I am happy that she is getting some relief from it! Baby Artie is less gassy after his last feeding at night, and I think it is because I am not drinking a glass of milk with dinner every night. I don’t think he’s lactose intolerant, but I think the glass of milk routinely made him gassy right before bed. Of course, the fact that we are eating healthier, too, could be the reason he has less gas (except for when we have broccoli! haha!). And the other benefit is that it has been fun to find other places to get protein and calcium. Researching fruits and veggies and plants to find other sources has been interesting and I have learned so much! If we are cutting out sources high in calcium and protein, I want to absolutely make sure we are replacing them with others high in those nutrients, so that we do not become deficient. But, again, if we are eating basic foods and raw foods, the nutrient counts don’t really matter. If we eat a variety of everything, we will have no deficiencies.
I know there is debate on daily vitamins and supplements. Since we are in a transition period still, I want to make sure we’re getting all that we need. The girls take a multi-vitamin with added calcium and Vitamin C every day. Arthur and I take our multi-vitamins, as well as Vitamin C, Vitamin D (especially for now in the winter when we’re in the sun a lot less!), and Fish Oil supplements. We like the comfort of the added Vit C, especially with all the colds going around. 🙂 I have noticed an increase in energy levels for me, as well as overall outlook, with taking the vitamin D. Since I had baby Artie, this is the first time when I’ve felt energized and less irritable. The fish oil supplement is because I’m nursing (need the DHA for baby) and because we don’t eat the recommended amount of fish to get the omega-3’s we need.
So, that is a summary of what we’ve been going through over here. Each day is a struggle to eat properly and healthy. We have not succeeded with eating great 100% of the time, but I’m ok with that. We are making a big effort and I believe that is what counts. Again, this is not for everyone. We have sensitive tummies and growing little ones and I’ve seen waaay too many documentaries in the past few months, that I can’t go back to eating like we were. Thankfully, the girls have been good sports about it all and very open to trying everything. We all like fruits and veggies a lot, so that has worked out great for us. The grains and other items were new, but we enjoy them now! It’s a really good feeling to know I am doing everything I can to feed my little ones (and husband and self!) healthy foods.
On that note, I need to get on making baby food today. So time-consuming, but it’s been great! It’s a wonderful start to Artie’s food journey! Hopefully he will pick up on the good eating habits very early on!