When I think of all of the things I've tried to do over the years for my family, including canning hundreds of quarts of fruit every year, growing a garden, and baking our bread daily from scratch, I realize it wasn't enough. I did these things because I had five children, and we lived on one income. I did them because I am of German descent, and wasting food or anything else for that matter, is genetically abhorrent to me. But had I had just a little more information about the meat and diary products I was buying on sale and in bulk, our family might have been better off.
My mom is still active in the Mormon church, and if you are familiar with this organization, you know they push their members to obtain and use food storage and become more self-reliant. However, if you don't have a damn clue how to cook with whole foods, then how in the hell do you survive on them? My mom repeatedly gets asked to come and teach the younger women in her church how to make staple items from scratch, using food storage items. Every time she does it, which is about once a year, she feels like her demonstrations fall on deaf ears. Women work, and no one wants to be spending a whole day making chicken stock, like I did today, because they can buy it for $.89 a can at Walmart. They can also buy a myriad of convenience items on the cheap, that are, in my opinion, no better than eating at McDonalds every single meal, every single day.
My friend Jackie, a survivor of breast cancer, is a huge proponent of whole, clean eating. She has taught me so much, that even though I was already doing some of the things I mentioned above, I feel like I've begun my culinary conquest anew just in the last five years of our friendship. Her idea of preventative medicine begins with what goes on your dinner plate, and she's right. This is the argument that I use when people tell me that eating organic costs too much. As Jackie says: "Pay now, or pay later." With the number of young people out there who are uninsured, this bears some consideration.
It warms my heart that some of my younger friends ask me advice about cooking, and making things from scratch. It makes me feel like I might have done something right after all. My kids are all serious about their diets, especially my oldest son Renn. He and his girlfriend are constantly experimenting with growing new foods, and turning their yard into an edible landscape. Being vegetarian, they don't need to worry about running afoul of our horrendous poultry production industry (yes, pun intended) here in the US. If it comes in a bag and is shaped like a nugget or a perfectly formed breast, it's not for human consumption. I have two vegetarians, one vegan, and two carnivores, but they all are pretty cognizant of what they eat. My sister, who recently moved to a beautiful piece of property, started her son raising chickens, free range. Not only does my nephew have a great 4-H project going, but they have learned really quickly that bartering for fresh eggs gets them some pretty cool stuff, like honey, firewood and organic grass fed beef. How fun! And good for you.
Anyone who has read my blog, or is friends with me on Facebook, knows that I buy all my chickens from Inspiration Plantation. Matt and Jen are my farmers. They send out weekly newsletters, conduct questionnaires, and pretty much let us decide what we will buy. They listen to their clients, and they are doing fabulously. I wouldn't get my poultry or eggs anywhere else. I buy my beef from a free range ranch in Idaho, and my farmer, Pat Robertson, calls me with updates on my beef cow, and then delivers my meat to me in the back of his pickup. Yep, that's personalized service and food you can feel good about. Expensive? Not in my opinion.
People need to really take into consideration what is being put into our food supply and sold as "food." If it's in a box or comes out of the frozen section, then you probably shouldn't eat it. Explore places like New Seasons, Chucks, and Trader Joe's. I think you'll find that you aren't spending that much more. Make three of the seven nights a week vegetarian nights, or even vegan nights. Invest in some good cookbooks, and subscribe to a good cooking magazine. What a great idea to ask for from relatives for Christmas! Here are a few of my favorites:
The one without a cover is Vickie Tate's "Cooking with Home Storage." It is still available on Amazon, and I give one to everyone I care about. It's a bible of goodness. Order here: Cookin' with Home Storage, and get yours today.
If you are interested in Alice Water's method of making stock, then read my STOCK! blog here.
So, think about your food, know your farmer, invest in your body and your health, and take your daily medicine: ORGANICS!
May you "Live long, and prosper!"