Whole Foods…

….at one time to me Whole Foods was a grocery store, an expensive grocery store. Then, I had a friend embark on a Whole Foods Challenge. This caused me to explore and discover more about what she was doing for her family. Then, I found out about a mom trying to do once-a-month-cooking, but with only whole foods. Check her journey out here

The more I researched whole foods, the more I discovered this way of eating is what I was raised on and how I am trying to feed my family. I had no idea it was a movement or new way of thinking about food. I just didn’t even realize. Everything does come back again, eh?

Then, I stumbled across a website discussing Traditional Foods. Again, I realized this wasn’t a foreign concept to me. In fact, it not only made sense, it was how I was raised to eat, for the most part.

You see, I grew up in a rural area of Louisiana. It was just a part of life to milk a cow, make fresh butter, use the cream in mashed potatoes and homemade ice cream. As well, one of my daily jobs was to gather the eggs from the chicken house. (A job I despised because the hens always pecked me. So, I started taking a stick with me because more than once, I found a guest amongst the chickens–a chicken snake. When my dad found out about my stick, he quickly told me to stop that because it would scare the chickens and cause them not to lay as many eggs.)

Another part of my growing up years was feasting upon grass-fed beef, geese/geese eggs, pigs and chickens (raised to grow at a normal rate, not the super-chickens described in the documentary Food Inc. ) All raised by my family. We grew acres of fresh vegetables and it was not uncommon for me to be found in the garden nibbling the produce. (Yes, sitting right there in the middle of the rows eating cherry tomatoes, or even mustard greens. I remember taking a salt shaker with me. I am sure my mom has a picture somewhere.)

However, as good as I had it, I remember asking my mom for margarine, instead of the butter we made every so often. Along with requesting Wonder bread,  instead of the fresh loaves of bread she would bake each week.

What in the world was I thinking?

I really had no idea how ahead of the game we were. When organic became the catch phrase for the food industry, I was baffled because apparently, I grew up eating an almost completely organic diet. Of course, we didn’t have the fancy label.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we had some processed foods. I mean, I grew up eating cereal (nothing with extra sugar. Oh, how I wished she would have purchased Fruit Loops or Lucky Charms) and chips (only plain Ruffles, Lays, or tortilla chips). And there is not a Southern cook I know who doesn’t use creamed soups in some sort of casserole (I have learned to make these myself and they taste better and are simple to make, minus all the extra junk). However, not only did I know where my food came from (chocolate milk doesn’t come from chocolate cows, geese eggs are by far much larger than chicken eggs), it was grown or raised on the small four acre tuck farm where I was grew up.

Now, here I am rediscovering the food of my youth, realizing that convenience foods aren’t really convenient and not at all healthy, and revolting against marketing tactics that seek to brainwash my kids (and me) into thinking otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong: I haven’t arrived. I am not a perfect Whole Foods/Traditional Foods proponent. I still use canned tomatoes, tuna/salmon and a variety of canned beans, with a few processed items in my pantry (cereals, crackers, chips, cake mixes, etc.) Yet, except for these items,  our foods are whole or traditional foods and I make most everything from scratch (Not pasta, of course, but I am willing to give it a go!) Baby steps, but heading in the right direction.

We do not have an enormous grocery budget. In fact many of you would be shocked if I told you what our grocery budget was. I will say it is half of what it was three years ago, which is when we got serious praying about church planting. Even with our small grocery budget, I do my best to purchase whole foods/traditional foods.

We have yet to be able to afford only organic, grass-fed beef, although I do find it on a major sale here and there. When I do, I stock up. We are working our way towards organic vegetables/fruits and dairy products. We do what we can. But, I always prefer to choose whole foods over processed foods. I mean, really, I have found cooking is not what takes the time. Planning is what takes the time. If I plan, we can eat a healthful, cooked-from-scratch meal that takes around 30 minutes to cook.

Case in point: I purchased a case of Roma tomatoes from Bountiful Baskets. I have learned just how easy it is to roast tomatoes and the glorious taste this creates. I made fresh pasta sauce for spaghetti one night last week. Roasted some more tomatoes earlier in the week and stored in the refrigerator; then, last night threw them in the food processor while I stirred up my 15-Minute Pizza Dough (I doubled the recipe, too. Next time will triple it and freeze for quick meal). In less than 30 minutes, I had two homemade pizzas. Totally, tasted better than the delivered kind and was fun to work with my kids in the kitchen.

We still have some steps to take, some things to cut out, in order to be where I want to be on this journey. Yet, we are on the journey, forging ahead to eat healthful, whole foods that are good for us. Personally, I think there is much to do about what we eat and how we feel. If I can’t pronounce it or spell it, I am learning that I probably shouldn’t eat it, or expect others to eat it. Cooking our foods has been another opportunity to spend time with our kids, teach them valuable lessons and ensure that I know what they are eating.

The other night, my husband and I were discussing the connection between our health and the foods we eat. Sure it takes a bit more planning, or searching for frugal food finds, but it is so worth it.  I would much rather pay a bit more for healthy, whole foods than use that same amount of money on hospital visits, medicines and such. Of course, there are always times where we need to go to the doctor/take medicines. Sometimes, though, I think Americans think that we have a ‘right’ to eat whatever we want, no matter its impact on our health. Everything in moderation, yes. Yet, in my opinion, somethings just need to be cut out all together.

So are you embarking on a more healthful approach to eating? What do you do? What are your tips? Recipes? Ideas?

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4 responses to “Whole Foods…

  1. I can relate to so much of this. I grew up on a farm, we had our own beef (grain fed by my dad), and a huge vegetable garden. We got fresh milk from the neighbors. My mom almost always mixed the cream into the milk, so we drank it “whole”.

    I remember asking for Wonder Bread, too. 🙂 And we always had margarine, I think it was considered healthier.

    And we are also trying to save money and eat healthy foods (although I have yet to see a sale on grass fed beef here in Los Angeles, but maybe I haven’t looked hard enough). Organic veggies are do-able, but the meats are simply out of our budget.

    Anyway, I am really enjoying this blog.

  2. Thanks for the mention, Jada! I love your blog and really enjoyed this entry.

    One thing i’ve discovered is that we treat eating like an inconvenience, something to just swing through and get done as quickly as possible. Now, just a couple weeks into this challenge, I’ve discovered it’s more than that. It’s about connection and nourishing our bodies and our souls. It’s a different experience for sure to make a meal from scratch vs. heating up a frozen pizza.

  3. Thanks for the link to this! What an interesting story you have and it sounds like we’re on the same pace for learning. 🙂

    Jessie

  4. Jada I host a meat club through Thundering Hooves. Its called a neighborhood buying club and I’ve been doing it for about 3 years now (I was their first club actually and 4 other clubs have started from my old customers!). Anyhow its all organic meat. I am not sure if they have a club in Monroe. You may want to look into hosting one. I get $50 in free meat by hosting it and I got all of my customers via email through our town’s Yahoo group. Check it out: http://www.thunderinghooves.net/

    I also emailed Bountiful Baskets but they have yet to get back to me. I asked about hosting a group here. I hope they respond. I am very interested but so far no luck!

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