My poor little blog has been sitting, abandoned by me for 2 months now. I haven't posted since early November! What has been keeping me from blogging? Good question! The answer is, that besides being busy with the kids, homeschool, holidays and family, we have been spending a lot of time making some changes in our daily lives - changes that have been keeping me busy reading blogs and books, planning and plotting, and cleaning out the old to make room for the new. It has to do primarily with food. For a little over 6 months now, we have been working on changing our eating habits - leaving behind processed, preservative filled, pre-packaged, convenience foods in favor of real, whole, fresh, traditional foods. Thanks to the encouragement of some friends, I've decided to blog about our changes once or twice a week or maybe even more if I feel led.
In my next "real food" post, I will share my personal prioritized list of changes we want to make and are working on implementing as well as why we are making or want to make each of the changes but we have already made a few changes:
We started (slowly) on this journey back in June last year by switching from pasteurized, processed milk products to farm fresh, raw milk from pasture fed cows. Besides just drinking the delicious milk, I use the cream to make butter and buttermilk which I use to make biscuits or pancakes, and some of the milk gets made into cheese or cultured into yogurt. I hope to start making milk kefir in the near future as well.
The next change we made was the meat we buy. Since most of the local grocery stores carry meat that has been shipped from somewhere out west (from meat processing companies that are notorious for tainted meats involved in numerous recalls), we decided that we would seek out a source for local meat. Ideally, we wanted to find an affordable source of grass-fed meat, but it is completely out of our budget at this time, so we decided to go to the next best thing we could get - locally raised meat that is butchered locally. It is grain fed but I find it to be a better choice than meat that has been raised in CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) conditions. We have very recently been purchasing locally raised grass-fed meats in small amounts on occasion from a local health food store. We also found a source for local, free range eggs.
Our next change was to significantly reduce our intake of grains. At first we were going to completely eliminate wheat but decided that we are not quite ready for that step but we have reduced the amount we do consume. We used to be a bread at every meal family but now we only have bread once or twice a week. We still have waffles & pancakes but we frequently use gluten free flours in place of wheat flours. At the same time, we eliminated soy from our diets with the exception of fermented soy, though it is something we rarely eat anyhow. We also eliminated corn oil, canola oil, soybean oil, and any other highly processed oils. In place of these, I now use coconut oil, lard that I rendered myself, olive oil and butter.
In the midst of these changes, we also began purging the processed foods from our house. Considering I am a recovering coupon addict who had quite the large stockpile of items that I purchased for next to nothing using my crazy coupon skills, this was a nearly monumental task. Even though I don't think these foods are good foods, I could not throw them away when I know there are people all around me who are struggling to put food on their tables every day. I chose to donate the food because I believe that eating something is better than starving. This picture is approximately a quarter of what I ended up giving away.
This was an exceptionally difficult change for me to make. I was totally addicted to the rush I got from walking into a grocery store with a handful of coupons and walking out with a couple cartloads of food for just a few bucks. My coupons saved me an average of 85% every time I went shopping. I also felt very secure having a large stockpile of food I could rely on in case of an emergency. I am working on rebuilding a stockpile but using real foods instead of processed. That is definitely a work in progress.
We have also: started drinking & using bone broth, started drinking & brewing kombucha, stopped using aluminum pots & pans in favor of glass & stainless steel, got rid of our microwave (2 days ago!), reduced refined sugars in favor natural sweeteners like local honey, local maple syrup & stevia, started drinking & cooking with filtered, fluoride free water, started buying organic foods & produce as often as our budget allows, stopped using canned foods, and started soaking and/or sprouting grains, nuts and beans. Plus, last spring we started an organic vegetable garden in our backyard.
This probably seems like a pretty extensive list of things we've already done. The truth is that this is still just the beginning. We have a long way to go to be where we want to be. This coming year is going to be a challenge for us as we make the desired changes. Many of the changes are very recent changes so they aren't habits yet and many of the things we have recently changed are still so new that I am unsure about how to continue to incorporate them into our daily life. For instance, just today I made sourdough starter. I am still a little confused about how often to feed it once it's established and I'm still not sure about how to make bread from it though I did find a few recipes for pancakes, english muffins and pizza dough using the starter.
I have a long way to go, but it is my hope that my blog posts will serve as encouragement for anyone else who might be unsure about starting out on this journey. It's not always easy but it's worth it. I'm learning that I don't have to know it all to make the changes. I just had to be willing to start, even with baby steps. I've started so now I just need to remember why I'm doing it and make sure we continue on this journey and see where it takes us.