over the last several months, kyle and i have been on a journey. one that which solely is focused on food. as most of you who know us (or interact with us on a somewhat daily basis) you’ve gotten to hear us share parts of this adventure. it started off with our lovely garden (which we haven’t killed yet) and the intention of growing local, healthy, organic food that we can share with our community and friends. that soon led us to researching and reading on what to grow, heirloom vs non-heirloom, annual plants that will survive the PNW winter, how to manage bugs in our garden, etc…which somehow led us down a rabbit trail of learning what goes into our bodies and thus…. american food industry. ta da. it’s been quite an eye-opening experience.
i should also point out that our journey is one that interests us and we are no way trying to 1) sound pious 2) be obnoxious 3) be condescending 4) be judgemental. so all that to say, we’ll be sharing some of our crazy adventures over the next several weeks. because we are on a rather ‘experiential’ journey to say the least. we’re on an elimination food diet to see if we have food allergies. but i digress.
it started off with our recent trip back to hawaii and eating all of the delicious, local food. it was while i was enjoying and savoring every bit that a random thought-bubble came to mind from a previous visit to my naturopath. “i should avoid dairy since my ancestors had never eaten dairy.” my mind immediately raced to, “well, i can eat tofu and rice and soy products, but is kyle allergic to these since he’s never grown up with them and i doubt his ancestors ate nato?!”
soon we had finished watching food inc. and king corn, 2 food documentaries that forever changed our view on the american food industry. we’ve borrowed food books (not cooking but research), primarily written by michael pollan (the ominvour’s dilemma and in defense of food and food rules) that dramatically shifted our previous thoughts on organic and free-range food, and well food in general. here’s some interesting fact’s that have influenced our purchases at the grocery stores and hopefully our lives:
- 30+ years ago 12-13% of our income was spent on food and 8% on health care. now, 15% of our income is spent on health care and 9% on food. if you begin to put quality food back into your diet, then you won’t be in the doctor’s office as much.
- the meat and vegetables you’re eating now is not the same as your great-grandmother ate when she was alive
- the american food industry has sacrificed quality over quantity as evident over the lack of nutrients and ‘fake’ nutrients pumped into our foods
- all cattle are grass-fed and then at 6 months are sent to feed-lots to be ‘finished off’ on a grain and corn-based diet
- look for “100% grass-fed” or 100% pasteurized labeling on your meats.
- low-fat and non-fat are essentially some of the worst things for you. all the good nutrients have been removed and replaced with worse additives
- 11 billions of corn that we produce is not edible by humans. it’s solely created for high-fructose corn syrup and cattle feed. i should note that for years (think 10 years old to recent), i assumed that due to government subsidies, we americans were greedy and wasteful and didn’t want to share our hoards of corn with the developing world. needless to say, king corn opened my eyes and clarified my ignorant, misconception. they wouldn’t be able to eat the corn we grow anyways. it’s not for eating.
- 5 major corporations monopolize the american food industry and ultimately create hostile, inhumane, and unjust work environments (see food inc and the chicken farmers). this happens in america. not developing countries but The Great U.S.A. horrific is one way to describe it.
i could go on with statistics but you get my point. so, with all of this knowledge, we’ve now been faced with the fact of what to do with it. we’ve made a commitment to start purchasing from local farmers (think farmers markets) for produce we aren’t growing and are attempting to only purchase things in season to minimize the impact on the environment and eating food that tastes like cardboard. we’re also trying our hardest to figure out the easiest way to get meat and poultry that is 100% grass-fed. the latter has been the hardest for us.
eatwild.com is my new favorite website. click on the state you’re in and voila! you’ll find a list of local meat farmers/ranchers in your area that adhere to higher standards than the FDA and are 100% grass-fed animals. one thing to note is that this new-found food revolution is not easy. we as americans pay for convenience which ultimately allows food to be so inexpensive.
honestly, this has been very challenging to us as we attempt to stand firm to these new commitments without giving into the convenience factor…note we’re in school and working full-time. so convenience and efficiency are rather key indicators in our lives. i preface that because as you begin to look at 100% grass-fed meat, you’ll find that farmers primarily sell 1/4 cow, 1/2 cow or a whole cow…yes you read that right. a whole cow. and for us folks in the city, i know your freezer space is the same as ours. small. very small.
in addition, you’ll most likely need to go to a different farmer for poultry and turkey and lamb, etc. some farmers in washington have poultry and lamb and goats. what we’ve found is that most of the cattle ranchers only specialize in cattle so you’d have to go to a different farmer for other meats. one other option to look into is the actual butcher shops that purchase these 100% grass-fed meats from the farmers. be sure to ask if the meat is 100% grass-fed since the butcher is mostly likely bringing in meats from other farms, etc. we found an awesome local fish shop and butcher in ballard over the weekend but when asked if the meat was 100% grass-fed was told in the sweetest way, “oh honey, it begins on grass and then is finished off with a nice diet of grain and corn. it’s so delicious!” as a (somewhat) educated woman of meat, i was armed with the knowledge to say “i’m sure it is but we’ll pass. thanks!”
obviously we haven’t found any ‘one-stop-shop’ for our poultry and meat standards, but if you do, please let us know! if we find one in the seattle and surrounding area, we’ll let you know!
through all of this researching, reading, watching, one thing is very clear to us. we are grateful for living in a ‘green state’ where organic, grass-fed, and being green isn’t looked down upon but encouraged. it’s also awesome to know that others are also educating themselves with this knowledge and joining the multitude of others in this food revolution. elisabeth recently posted her own thoughts and questions as she is beginning to start the process of educating herself as she feeds her family. when you start it’s overwhelming but quickly becomes liberating and exhilarating and at times a bit scary. but at the end of the day, it’s all well worth it.
here’s to a food revolution.