What the World Eats (and being aware of what we eat!)

I saw the photo montage go by on my Facebook feed of What the World Eats.  Each photograph of a family in a different country with all the food that they eat in a week.  It took me by surprise, really.  Many of the countries that I thought would have healthier food choices did not.  And the ones that I would consider healthy had little more than five bags of staples like beans and rice.  What really astounded me though was the sheer amount of processed food.  My goodness, big companies have made their way around the world.  One photo showed liters and liters of Pepsi.  Packages of pre-cut meats.  Boxes and boxes of processed foods.  And some produce.  It made me think, What am I eating? What would our photograph look like?

Just for a day I began photographing my meals.

When we had our practically off-grid farm there for a bit, we were practically self-sufficient.  We had a root cellar filled with fruits and vegetables.  A freezer full of local meat and my own cheese curing from my own goats.  What that photo wouldn’t show is all the food that went to feed the animals that I consumed.  (Nor would it show the chronic heartburn, weight gain, and gout.)  What do I eat now? was a question that would ultimately help me see what I could make myself and just how much processed food I consumed.

Breakfast- I love a bowl of cereal for breakfast.  I buy the organic box of raisin granola for $4-$5 and it feeds me for five days with roughly four cups of cereal in the box.  I wrote a book many years ago called, Gone Vegan, and I pulled out that trusty manual to find my old granola recipe.  It is so good and it made doubled the granola in roughly 40 minutes for a fraction of the price.  One less box I need to send to recycling and one less plastic insert that goes in the trash.

20190122_113013

Homemade Granola

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 6 cups of oats with 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 T pumpkin pie spice, and 3/4 cup of canola, sunflower, or safflower oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.

Spray a cookie sheet with oil and after mixing all ingredients well, pour onto cookie sheet.  Drizzle with agave or maple syrup.  Bake for 30 minutes, stirring half way through.  Then add 1 cup of nuts and 1 1/2 cups of dried fruit (I used pecans, raisins, and cranberries) and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.  Stir a few times after it comes out of the oven as it’s cooling to keep it from sticking or clumping.

Now, this is delicious with almond milk.  And indeed, I can make my own cashew, hemp, or almond milk.  But, I usually buy the carton because it lasts longer.

Lunch- For lunch I had a power smoothie.  My Vitamix is ten years old (a new one is on my wish list) so I have to juice the big stuff first.  I put in the juicer a large leaf of aloe, 3 apples, 3 carrots, a big handful of chard, and a chunk of ginger and turmeric.  Then I poured that into the Vitamix and added a big banana, spirulina, maca, hemp protein powder, pumpkin pie spice, frozen berries, a dollop of both peanut butter and coconut oil.  A drizzle of maple syrup or agave and on the machine goes.  I split it in half and send my husband with his tomorrow in his lunch and drink my half with a few crackers and vegan cream cheese and jam that I preserved.  I could certainly make my own crackers but they aren’t quite as good as organic Ritz style.  But maybe I will work on that this week!  I do buy packaged vegan cheeses and meats.  The packaging is far less waste than the actual act of raising meat and dairy and the karmic value of going vegan is astronomical as well as the lessened impact on the environment.

20190122_123218

Dinner- Pizza with a homemade, 15 minute crust.  I topped it with my own preserved tomato sauce, vegan mozzarella and cream cheese, a ton of spices, and a bunch of delicious vegetables.

20190122_182207

The next night we had vegan carne asada with crisp oven fries, cashew queso, Beyond Meat crumbles, guacamole, tomatoes, and homemade red chile.

20190123_184231

The Big Picture– Well, I have a bit to go, don’t I?  But being aware is the first step to doing better.  So, yes, we use some packaged items and some of them could be made and some of them are the lesser of evils.  But produce is a large part of our diet and so are healthy grains.  I grow all of our produce for the four months we garden and I preserve a few hundred jars of produce a year.  This year with my expanded gardens and vertical gardening techniques, I hope to produce doubled what I have been.  This continues to increase our nutrition intake and lessen our footprint even more.  Preparing more ethnic dishes, like Indian and Mexican food allows the use of more beans and pulses, further increasing our health, and costs less environmentally and monetarily.

20190122_190759

Vegan cheesecake with homemade chokecherry sauce

As Americans especially, we have a lot of unwiring to do.  I hope in a year or so to look more like the family from Guatemala (sans meat) then the one from America.

http://time.com/8515/hungry-planet-what-the-world-eats/

 

 

Food Fights; So What is the Perfect Diet?

 

dinner-3

Eggs are bad!  Eggs are now good!  Meat is bad!  Only factory farmed meat is bad!  Meat is good!  Grains are bad!  Whole grains are good!  What?!

Let’s face it, with so many opinions out there and research proving whatever makes the most money, we can find pros or cons on any diet out there.  So let’s look at it practically.

dinner-2

#1 Grains- The gluten free fad has gone way overboard in my opinion.  First it was fibromyalgia, now gluten free.  One gal told me she became gluten intolerant due to a car accident.  Ok, so let’s stop blaming our health on one sole ingredient.  I think we can all agree that donuts are not really a part of a good diet.  Super processed wheat is glue in the intestines.  I get it.  But grains have been around since Mesopotamia.  Everything is color coded in the antioxidant realm, and whole grains do their part to heal the digestive lining and is a valuable fiber and protein source for the body.  The antioxidants in brown plants are specific to killing cancer.  Don’t throw out the whole grains!

dinner

#2 Meat- Not sure if I completely go for the idea that we are natural meat eaters.  Our canine teeth really wouldn’t help us sans weapons trying to catch and kill a rabbit.  Or eating it raw.  And let’s face it, without a weapon a deer could kick our ass.  Truth.  However, my ancestors are probably shaking their heads at me a bit whispering under their breath, “You are going to starve…”  I also know they didn’t eat meat every day.  Nor did their animals eat GMO grain before death or die a stressful, horrifying, horror movie ready death.  I don’t often crave meat but sometimes I do.  Learning to listen to the body is key.  I am not sure about all the processed ingredients in the meat substitutes, so a little farm fresh meat when I crave it is probably alright.

fruits_and_vegetables_a_collection_of_picture_167168

#3 Vegetables- First choice, organic.  Think it’s a scam?  Grow your own, find a local farmer, go organic.  Even a little drift from other fields is not as bad as the full onslaught of chemicals on our food.  I have customers tell me they cannot eat vegetables with all seriousness.  Cruciferous vegetables really get people going.  If vegetables are causing gas and other discomfort that signals us that the body is extremely toxic.  Eat more!  Vegetables are the most essential part of a diet.  Especially greens.  Every cell repairing antioxidant comes in plant form.  Juice Plus supplements are not going to cover your bases.  Green smoothies, fresh juices, lots of color in our dishes, that is the magic elixir for health.

#4 Fruit- “Can’t have fruit, it has sugar.”  I have heard this a lot.  It contains a totally different type of sugar than processed sugar cane or the poisonous chemical fake sugar.  It does not cause a crash or mess with insulin levels.  Fruit contains many antioxidants that are specific to parts of the body to help repair and invigorate.  Fruit is good!

#5- Alcohol, caffeine, sugar- A gentleman in my shop told me that his new year’s goal is to eliminate all alcohol and caffeine from his diet.  I am no fortune teller but I could see a good binge in his future!  I said, “How about one or two cups of coffee in the morning and one drink at night?”  Moderation.  Sugar.  Hey, one teaspoon of sugar in your coffee is not going to kill you.  Raw sugar actually has quite a few minerals in it.  And that tiramisu?  Share it, enjoy it, savor it.  Just not every day.  Life is meant to enjoy.  A bit of common sense comes in handy.  What a shame that we forgot how to eat.  Forgot how to grow our food.  What happened to us?  Time to take back our human wisdom about food.

I guess the key here is trusting your own body over the “research” one can find online.  What does your body want?  Barley over Bisquick.  Organic chicken once a week over fast food.  Does it feel nourishing as you are buying it?  Does it feel nourishing as you prepare  it?  How does your body feel after you eat it?  Create your own research.  No more food fights!  Let’s just eat well, preferably with friends and family, and enjoy our year to come, nourished and well fed.

Freezer Camp

“Hi Ho, Hi Ho, off to Freezer Camp we go…!”  The sing song text came over after I told my friend, Jamie, that the roosters lost their jobs.

IMG_0705

The landlords decided that the chickens should stay in their coop and modest enclosure from now on.  The roosters’ jobs were to protect from predators, to sound the alarm should a hawk fly overhead, and to make babies.  Once they all moved into snug quarters they decided their new jobs were to have sex and eat as much of the buffet as they could.  Egg production declined, and food intake went up.  The good looking fellows, I am afraid, had to be laid off.

I used to get so angry when I would read articles in Mother Earth News or other publications about how eating meat was actually better for the environment.  Or studies that eating meat is actually good for you (I still wonder sometimes).  I was a staunch supporter of no killing.  We were vegan, and our children were vegan, and by golly our cats would have been vegan too if we could have found a way!  We published vegan cookbooks and made fun of meat eaters and went to vegan restaurants and were never going to eat a chicken!  Moving to the country changes one’s ideals a bit.

I noticed my country friends had animals they used for meat.  These animals were raised in a happy go lucky place, fed what they were intended to be fed, and killed swiftly, usually without knowledge of the situation.  These animals were not in a factory farm setting.  They did not wallow in filth, in closed-in cages, eating dead animals and genetically modified foods, many never seeing the light of day.  Abuse on the line of murder is common and that side of the meat eating industry is beyond devastating and morally way off base.  But these animals were living a good life and were spared the atrocity of old age.  My old chicken, Laverne, is the saddest to thing to watch.  We could have done her a service by lopping her head off last year and could have put food on the table as a bonus.

I realized that the unending damage of mono-crops, especially soy, was going into a lot of my “healthier” meat alternatives.  That big companies owned these seemingly peaceful veggie companies.  Animals will be killed, just like people, in wars and in natural disasters, by our outlandish cars, by plowing fields for soy beans.  The pastures and rolling plains dotted with cows could not be if we did not support the local rancher.  Food closest to its source has to be far healthier than the unidentifiable ingredients on the packages lining the shelves of the health food store.

My goal is to provide as much food for our table as possible because I will know where it came from, who touched it, no chance of listeria or e-coli here!  So, Christopher Robin and Owl (I really need to stop naming them!) will do their part on this farm.  They snuck by the inspectors at the hatchery, pretended to be girls, came to live at our farm, had a marvelous time, and now will join freezer camp.  Seems fair!

I am thankful that I can live around animals, give them a great life, and provide my own food.  This is the good life.