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Enjoying the modern conveniences of life in a sustainable manner through technology, resourcefulness, and Zone 8a (North Texas) Gardening.

Friday, January 13, 2012

2012 Eating Goals

This is the conclusion of my previous post What is Food?

We've decided to stop allowing the food industry to determine what food is to us. We want food that is chosen based on taste and flavor, not shelf life and ship-ability. In 2011, we kind of played around with the changes we would implement to support the natural, organic, sustainable foods movement. In 2012, we would like to be more direct and consistent with our choices. So we decided to develop a list of SMART eating goals for 2012. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Reaching, and Timely. After much deliberation, driving around town to determine what is available, research, and soul searching, we have developed the following SMART Eating Goals for 2012.

Chicken and Eggs - we will purchase conventional all-natural chicken; giving a nod to free range and the occasional organic purchase. The reasons for this are: 1-because organic chicken is not guaranteed to be free-range; 2-the cost of going 100% organic is not Achievable for our family; 3-all chicken is restricted from being given hormones and any chicken that is given antibiotics cannot be processed until after a withholding period; 3-there is no nutritional difference between organic and inorganic chicken meat; 4-Free-range doesn’t necessarily mean the chicken ever saw the light of day or that they were cage-free 100% of the time. Bottom-line, the labeling allowed for chickens doesn’t really tell you much and doesn’t mean a whole lot when you look at the true definition of what is allowed. Organic chickens are not required to be cage free.

Beef - 100% organic/grass fed beef; preferably from local farmers. Reasons: 1-we don't eat much beef, so the cost is not prohibitive; 2-beef is given hormones and antibiotics; 3-nonorganic beef is also fed an unnatural diet of animal parts and grains; 4-grass fed beef has been shown to be nutritionally better (leaner) than conventional; 5-we have located various sources of purchasing this meat locally.

Lamb - purchase from local farmers

Turkey - Conventional - since we don't eat much beef, we actually eat more turkey than the average family probably does. We go with conventional because it is achievable. We have not seen terms like organic, or cage-free on turkey products in this area (except for whole turkeys). So, we really have no choice.

We also rarely eat dairy products (intolerance). So we aren't sure what to do in this category. On one hand, since we rarely use them, we could afford to go 100% organic. But on the other hand, since we rarely use them, they spoil quite often and I'd hate to spoil a $6 gallon of milk versus a $2 gallon. So we may stick with conventional here. We spend so little hear that our organic voice wouldn't be heard by retailers anyway.

Aside: Did you know that humans are the only animals that continue to drink milk after being weaned? In fact, the only reason we can still digest it is because of a genetic mutation that occurred from having contact with cows. This is why such a large percentage of the population has some sort of lactose intolerance; b/c we aren't supposed to still be drinking milk! Some cultures (like Japanese) shun dairy products (milk) as adults. That culture also has lower rates of hormone related cancers (like breast). Not tying any of these facts together, just thought they were all interesting!

This is the tough one because so few organic vegetables are available here and some are VERY expensive. For example, a pound of green bell peppers are $0.49 and one organic green bell pepper is $1.49 right now. You see the problem? So our plan is to vastly expand our home garden, we have joined our churches garden co-op (where they grow organically), and we have identified several pick your own farms to visit in the spring/summer. We will also frequent the farmers market at least once per month in season. So the above will be our first sources for produce (in order). Any additional that we need, we will purchase at the grocery store. The preference will be organic (without paying an arm for it). We will choose organic based on the Environmental Working Group's cleanliest veggies list. The dirtiest 12, we will definitely purchase organic or avoid. The cleanliest 12 or so, we will purchase conventional unless organic is similarly priced.

We already avoid these with a passion (except pasta, beans, and rice). However, there is the occasional need to purchase one of these products. Therefore our purchases will exclude all products that contain high fructose corn syrup / corn sugar. We will also prefer products that have labels such as low sodium, all natural, no preservatives, whole grains...you get the idea. However, we purchase these very sparingly.

Eating Out
This is the tough one, because sometimes you just don't feel like cooking or you just run out of time and need to eat NOW. So our plan is to: 1-cook and freeze some ready to eat meals ourselves, 2-choose restaurants that offer fresh, local, preferably organic products. We have identified a few in our area. I hate nothing more than eating out at a restaurant and they serve me warmed up food! I can do that at home. Serve me food that you actually had to prepare; not food that you thawed out and warmed up or processed food that you just added water to and warmed up. Why would I pay for someone to feed that to me? So the approved fast food joints are In and Out burger and Subway. There are also a few approved sit-down locations. We definitely need to expand our list though! If we have to go to an unapproved restaurant (with family/friends) we will limit our selections using the same rules we use for buying the food from the grocer (choosing only the cleanliest foods, no beef unless grass fed, etc...)

So I will keep you all updated on how we accomplish this, our first grocery shopping trip of the year is this weekend!

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