Life after Food Inc.

Last week I watched a documentary that will probably forever change my life: Food Inc. It did a fantastic job of exposing the ugliness and inefficiencies of the corporate food industry, and also what unhealthy practices they do in order to get bigger and bigger and the shortcuts they take to get more money. I’m stunned. I can’t watch that and go back to the way I was eating/buying food. I think the biggest thing I got out of it is that change is not going to happen if we give in to the system. There are people who can’t afford to buy healthy food, and it’s going to stay that way until we who CAN afford to make SOME sort of impression on the industry DO IT. Like they said, you can vote three times a day. Now, I can’t afford to go totally organic. Besides, there are plenty of food options that really don’t need to be organic. But my efforts will be mapped out here:

  • Limit meat intake. This is not necessarily for “health” reasons but for economic reasons. I can’t afford to buy grass-fed beef and cage-free chicken all the dang time. Rather than compromise my new-found standards, I can afford to learn to depend less on meat as an every-meal standard. This way, I can afford to get the GOOD stuff. For those of you in the Plainview area, Paidom Meats in Nazareth, TX raises their meat with integrity, and they distribute  at several health food stores in Lubbock. Walmart also carries some Harvestland cage-free chicken that I found on crazy-sale several weeks ago and stocked up on. Neither Paidom nor this Harvestland chicken cost much more than conventionally-raised meat.
  • Eat more beans. Gotta get my protein!
  • Go organic on the “dirty dozen” as much as I can. These are fruits and vegetables that have been found to contain a significant amount of pesticide residue. The list can be found here. Walmart recently started carrying some organic versions of these. The organic celery is marginally more expensive. The organic green onions are actually cheaper per ounce, and the organic bell peppers are still dang expensive, which means I need to branch out from using them all the time!
  • Buy local. Every summer a small Farmers Market meets two mornings a week here in Plainview. The food there is generally cheaper than anything you can find at the grocery store. There is also a Farmers Market at Apple Country Orchards in Idalou. I’m excited to visit them this summer!
  • Grow my own garden. Working on it! Trying not to let the West Texas winds and crazy randomly-snowy weather get to my fragile little seedlings…

But like I said, it’s not all about the health of it. The organic industry is not just about keeping pesticides out of our food or saving the earth. I don’t consider myself an environmentalist and I do believe God made meat to be eaten, in the most general sense. What I’m continually learning through this is that this is a far bigger effort that fights against an industry and concept that affects so many different facets of our culture. This is not just about what’s on our dinner plate. It’s about the economy. It’s about the fact that we’re the fattest country in the world and our deadly habits are seeping into the rest of the world. It’s about the fact that we’ve reduced our food processing to factories that thrive on the cheap labor of illegal immigrants (which I think is strangely akin to the economy of the south during the time of slavery). It’s the fact that as a result of this, Americans don’t have enough decent jobs that pay a sustainable wage, and this bigger-badder-faster attitude that businesses have these days are plaguing our society in ways we can’t fully comprehend yet. Federal standards have laxed, and American have become complacent and/or naive. Not everyone can do everything. But I can do something. And I choose to make a change, not just for me and my family, but for the hope that one day a pound of broccoli will cost less than a hamburger and that businesses will gain back a sense of integrity.

And thus…

This was grocery shopping trip part one of many I have made this week. This was the brunt of it though. In the cart went…

  • Kodiak Cakes Frontier Flapjack mix. They’re made of whole grain and are 100% all natural. I’ve been meaning to try them but they’re quite pricey. I’m glad I did, though, because Edgar LOVES them!
  • Kashi TLC crackers. I had these at an office party and they ROCK.
  • 2 cans of organic chickpeas. Didn’t cost much more than regular, so I got two cans. One can for Roni’s hummus (not a fan of tahini, so I’m excited to try her version!), and one for roasting!
  • Two cans of Del Monte organic tomato paste. It’s good to have around, was inexpensive, and there’s coupons for other Del Monte Organic products on the label!
  • Bananas, which have since been restocked! Do me a favor. Freeze banana chunks. When frozen, toss into blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Instant healthy soft-serve “ice cream!” Eat. Enjoy. You can thank me later.
  • Blood oranges. I can’t get enough! Though I’ve learned I need to scrub these down. When peeling them I get this nasty,  shimmery, waxy residue all over my hands. Can we say ew?
  • Pears. They were on sale! Unfortunately not organic, though.
  • Texas Ruby Red Grapefruit. Ed’s favorite fruit.
  • Butter with Olive Oil. For cooking. I use Brummel & Brown for smearing on stuff that needs smearing.
  • Chai Green Tea bags. Love it! Studies show that fresh brewed green tea helps metabolize fat more efficiently. And I really love a chai latte in the evening, so it’s win-win!
  • Canned pumpkin. I can’t ever have enough pumpkin in the house.
  • Earthgrains Multi-Grain sandwich thins. ‘Cause it had been awhile.
  • Flatout Multigrain with Flax wraps. Again, it’d been awhile.
  • Asparagus. One of my favorite veggies, ON SALE.
  • Pecans. For cooking with.
  • Dried Mission Figs. Because I can’t find a danged fig anywhere in West Texas and they suddenly appear in dried form at my local United.
  • White Merlot. Because it looked interesting and we didn’t have any fresh wine in the house.

Since then I’ve made a few more trips to United and Walmart getting milk, brussels sprouts, organic spinach (which amazingly lasts longer, btw), bell peppers, sesame oil, and the like.

And cost? Well, before now my grocery “budget” has been all but a lost cause. Amazingly enough, I have actually stayed within my budget for the first time EVER. Part of it is I stocked up on crazy cheap meat a few weeks ago. Another is that I quit looking up recipes and then going out and buying all the ingredients for those recipes. Now I get what’s on sale, what I’ve already got, and what I’m in the mood for and build recipes and meals around that. It’s gotten SO much cheaper. I also stopped letting myself think that everyone NEEDS a whole quarter-pound of meat in every meal. Seriously. My pound of ground turkey has never lasted so long.

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