Tuesday, January 12, 2010

all-natural nutrition

saturday night, justin and i sat down to watch a movie (after it was determined that the nfl playoff game was going to be a blow-out) and decided to go with food, inc. i'll be honest, i'd been reading the nutrition posts that jo-lynne had written over at musings of a housewife for a while--and i was intrigued. not enough to actually make any changes, but enough to put food, inc. in our netflix queue to watch.


i mean, i knew going into it that it was going to shock me into making some changes in our diets. i posted on facebook:

watching "food inc." tonight. i have a feeling this will make me want to become a vegetarian. or at least buy organic and local.

and yes, it did. i can't do vegetarian (i just like meat too much) but within the first 30 minutes of the movie, i was researching local farms where we could purchase free-range chicken without fear of hormones or antibiotics being pumped in to make them grow so fast that their bones can't keep up so they can't even walk around the chicken houses.

i'd say that's what got to me. i also fully believe that if i lived in a time where i was responsible for preparing my own meat, i would be a vegetarian.

so between the story of the family that lost their son to e coli poisoning (and learning that there are only 13 meat processing plants in the entire country--so when one plant gets contaminated, it affects huge percentages of the products that are out there), that there is actually ammonia-spiked "meat filler" that is added to over 70% of our ground beef (with the likelihood of 100% within the next few years) and then the beautiful camera pans across a real farm, where cows grazed in fields, chickens pecked around the farm yard, and food was produced the way it was meant to be produced--i was convinced.

i'm planning on finding michael pallon's books in the library (or breaking down and ordering them on amazon) within the next week or so. he's written two books, in defense of food and the omnivore's dilemma--both that i've heard positive things about. i also like the look of this little pocket book, food rules, as a handy way to break down how to make some of these changes. and i have a feeling that what to eat could help me with the now daunting task of shopping at the grocery store--she apparently breaks down aisle by aisle what you should look for or avoid.

and that's also where i imagine we'll make some changes. i mean, already this week i started passing up the bargain-priced produce and meat to go for organic. and yes, i know that not all organic is "true" organic and not all organic is necessarily infinite times better than conventional foods. i'm still doing research. actually, i'm quite open to any suggestions or information that others want to share. (i'm going back and re-reading jo-lynne's posts and following her links like crazy.) but we are looking at all of our other options--and thank goodness we have other options! i started at a couple of sites like eatwild.com and localharvest.com and obviously trying to find local produce and farmer's markets in the middle of january is just not the ideal time. but then as i was browsing the farmtofork co-op group in the raleigh/durham area, wishing there was something similar in our area rather than having to drive to all of these individual farms that i had found--

my co-worker christie (also a fan of food inc.) sent me the link to the spring run market that offers a farmer's market every couple of weeks as well as opportunities to place orders with all of those farms that deliver to the market!

and now my brief fears of having to drive to snow hill and track down a farmer for the cuts of meat i wanted disappeared. though that doesn't really scare me. i'm a social worker. i've done in-home therapy :)

at any rate--that's our plan. now, i still have some mixed thoughts on the full-fat dairy that jo-lynne writes about. my sister-in-law who is a dietitian apparently agrees (though i haven't spoken with her at length about it.) though the back label of a margarine container frightens me, justin and i don't exactly have the best family history of cholesterol and heart issues to be able to fully embrace whole milk and real butter without some hesitation...

and the costs. well, it does cost more. but what are the costs worth? the movie stated that our eating habits have changed more in the past 50 years than the previous 1,000. we have growing rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease--and then cancer, autism and the other diseases or conditions that just seem to "happen." if there's any chance that we could make changes in our diets and prevent (or slow down) the likelihood that we have to deal with any of these health issues--then i'll cut coupons for paper towels and dish soap and everything else so we can buy healthy, chemical-free produce and meats.

so ends my soapbox for the week. anyone else intrigued by this whole healthy, organic, chemical-free food? i'll admit, i used to scoff at some of the families i knew that "had to have" the organic milk cartons in their kids' lunches. i'd been known the pass by the organic fruit for the value-priced bags. i've had freezers full of cheap "family packs" of chicken that i'd use for meals on end.

but i am singing a different tune now...