Monday, October 3, 2011

a food processor

Food is a big part of our lives. We all eat. Quinn has to things high in fat, protein, calories, and extra salt. Ryan is gluten intolerant gluten. Sela has no allergies or diet issues and typically will yell "I DO" when asked if someone wants more food. I like food. We all eat. Sometimes it feels more complicated than other times.

I started another blog called a food processor so I could write about food, things I'd been learning, thinking, and wondering about food. I'm in a food processor kind of mode right now so here I am processing. I'm working on a list to go grocery shopping and back to wondering about how we buy food and how others buy food.

Last summer, I had been reading a lot about food. Books by Michael Pollan and Barbara Kingsolver. Books about items in the kitchen, safety concerns, and food. I read blogs, blogs, blogs about quality food, budgets, and cooking. I was talking with friends who had made a shift from buying just based on price but also on quality and source. I was finding out about the food in my area of the world and I was so amazed at the kind of foods that were just 3 miles from my house!

I cleaned out my kitchen of pots and pans and "stuff" that was questionable.

I signed up to work an organic farm doing a community garden.

We bought a freezer. I learned how to blanch vegetables and freeze them. I learned how to do the same with peaches.
I picked strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. I learned how to can pickles.
We purchased half of a hog from a local source. We purchased a quarter of grass-fed beef from a local source. We purchased some local chickens. All of which took up residence in my freezer. Some friends sold us eggs...from local chickens fed good food.
(These local egg yolks are SO yellow and thick. We recently switched to regular store eggs and when I made scrambled eggs Ryan asked me what happened to the eggs? They were such a light yellow and tasted very different. There is a difference!)
Last summer I had Quinn and Sela out in a corn field where I was weeding. Quinn could run around and I had Sela in her pack and play. In the dirt. In the corn field. And it was great. This summer--no such luck.

I had high hopes for working back on the farm--because when you worked at the farm you could take as much produce as you wanted and could can or freeze quantities too. For $24 and 30 hours of work. Summer and winter veggies! I had high hopes! I signed up.

And didn't go out at all. Not even once.

For some reason this summer, taking the kids out and working at the farm felt overwhelming. Freezing veggies and canning things felt overwhelming. Picking berries felt overwhelming. I picked a couple of pounds of raspberries this summer. No strawberries or blueberries. Sad, sad, sad.

I believe people shop with a variety of priorities. Some shop solely based on cost. Some shop based on a diet plan. Some shop based on food being organic. Some shop looking for local foods. The costs between these various plans are pretty significant. For awhile I shopped focusing on the organic and local options plus Quinn and Ryan's diet needs. And now for awhile I've shopped based on cost plus Quinn and Ryan's diet needs.

I'm trying to figure out how to honor our budget needs, take care of Quinn and Ryan's diet needs, and still pay attention to the organic and local labels. I've tried a number of ways of doing this but am back to being stuck.

I also think about access to food. Who gets to make choices about their food and who just has to go with the food they can get no matter the quality of the food. Living off canned cheese and top ramen isn't really eating food. It is more like eating things that look like food. Some substance flavored to taste like the anticipated food.

So, I'm back to feeling the tension between what feels like wise financial stewardship, what I believe is best quality, and what are the essentials to use in meeting diet needs and eating real food.

In honor of Ryan's gluten intolerance, I'm going gluten-free this month. Sometimes making sure Ryan has something that is interesting and tastes good to eat that is gluten-free is an after thought for me. I decided I would recognize what he needs better if I experienced it myself. Like at lunch today, we had gluten free soup with..."what" I thought? No toast. No crackers. Fruit? A yogurt? I got out the corn chips and salsa. Not really the vibe I was looking for with curried red lentil soup.

I'm thinking and processing. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? I'm interested.


Sean said...

Hey Meredith! We've spent a lot of time and energy studying food and rearranging our diet because of my son's digestive issues. Amanda found a great book called Cooking for Isaiah, which is a gluten and dairy free cookbook by Sylvia Nardone. It has some amazing recipes in it. Our kids have requested that we go back to the gluten and dairy free pancakes. Thanks for your post, it was fun to read your musings 'cuz boy can we relate!

Beth said...

Meredith - what did you decide on pots and pans? Stainless steel? Cast Iron? Ceramic? What do you use for spatulas, etc? I'm beginning the process of changing out cookware and would appreciate any insight. :-)

meredith said...

I've never replied to people's comments because I didn't know how :) So I thought I would try and see if it connects with you, Sean and Beth. Learn by doing.

Sean, good suggestion! I'll have to see if I can find that cookbook. I love having ideas from people that are practical and tested. I hope that your family is doing well!

Beth, your question got me thinking some more and I think I'll do write more on a post. I'm curious about what you are considering too.

Raegan said...

So I am a bit late in the commentary. But I think you'll understand as Harry continues to make sure life is not boring in the Towne House! While there are no dietary restrictions in our house there are budget constraints and family history of obesity/diabetes due mostly to weight as well as other health issues. Therefore to stave off bad health and making sure my extremely picky eater (Harry) is actually ingesting food packed with good for you stuff. I am paying attention and making little changes. I but a quarter side of beef, planning a half hog purchase, frequenting the local farmer's market, experimenting with canning and home farming since we have a perfect spot and a greenhouse (not to mention I come from a line of farmers it should be in the blood!). I have found that if I am dedicated to cooking at home buying the freshest I can find then I am doing my level best. Do we still eat the occasional Oreo YES!!!! However, I am trying to make a batch of cookies each weekend and a batch of muffins or loaf of bread for breakfast. So far so good :) I miss your ponderings! thanks for blogging.