Monday, May 7, 2012

Responsible Eating

Nothing better than fresh picked raspberries!

I recently read a blog post from Bethany over at Rinse Repeat, and it got me thinking. Her question was this “How do you incorporate cleaner, safer food without busting the bank?” It’s a really good question. Do we know where our food is coming from? Do we care? Does organic really matter or mean anything?

My family has been struggling with this for the better part of 5 years. Where do you draw the line? Organic generally costs a LOT more. How do I justify the increased expenditure? My grocery bill is already way more than what I consider to be within reason. According to the USDA at home food prices rose an average of 2.8% yearly. However it also notes that while processed goods stay relatively stagnant in price (due to high labor to food cost ratio) raw goods are rising at an astronomical rate. Beef was more than 8% more expensive year over year. We are being punished for eating whole foods, cooking at home, and trying to be at least relatively healthy. On top of that when we try to be responsible, sustainable, or healthy it gets even worse. Organic labels are often times questionable, and priced well above the non organic counterpart.

So how do we do it? I could cut out meat; it is generally very expensive to buy organic, grass fed meat. But my husband might boycott at home dinners. I could only eat organic and cut back on other things in our life, but I don’t subscribe to the notion that organic is always healthier. The big question I always come back to is where does it come from?

Did you know that “organic” food can still have pesticides? They are simply required to be derived from natural ingredients. The organic label does not mean that they try to limit the use of said pesticides or that the food is humanely and sustainably raised. So let me ask you this, would you rather have a product that is not organic but is locally raised and sprayed with minimal pesticides prior to flowering? Or would you rather have something organic that is doused with natural pesticides at all phases of the growing process and shipped from California to Wisconsin. In this scenario I will choose the non organic version every time.

We need to educate ourselves as consumers, be wiling to put the time and effort into research. We need to become a society that cares where our food comes from and how it was raised. We need to fight for better labeling of meat and produce. But even with that when I go out to eat I don’t want to see a description 10 lines long of how the cow was raised. I want to be in a society where I can just know that it is raised in a way that I would approve of.

But alas that is not the society that we live in. Food produced in the USA is GROSS. Every step of the way corporations and food science are striving to make things cheaper and faster, what that means to us is questionable.

I could write a long time about the state of food in our society, but I won’t. What I will do is make a few suggestions for better eating.

1. Limit overly processed items.

When you don’t understand the ingredient list, make substitutions if possible.

Some companies are coming out with “natural” or “simple” versions of brand name products, although not ideal, they are made with fewer preservatives and chemicals. Any change can help regulate what you put in your and your families bodies.

Minor changes, but important to me. If the ingredient was created in a lab by scientists I don’t want to eat it.

2. Buy local when possible. 

In Wisconsin it is really hard due to the seasons, but I try my hardest. The summer farmers market is my best friend. I buy and freeze many items; I make Jam, Pies, apple sauce, and corn to freeze for the winter. This is not to say that local is always better, it is just easier to get the history when you are talking to the farmer.

3. Find out what items are more common or susceptible to pesticides. 

Great article found on the PBS website.

4. Plant a garden, even if it is a small garden.

Nothing will make you appreciate your food more than nurturing it to harvest. This can be a great learning tool for young ones, showing them what it means to grow food will give them a new appreciation for produce

5. Cook at home!

Teach your children and families about making good decisions regarding food. Show
them healthy doesn’t mean gross.

And with those 5 tips I will get off my soap box.  Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. for some reason, this article makes me think of this clip from Portlandia:
    Hopefully this is where we're headed. :-)