Grit Blogs > The Accidental Farmer

Food Fights

April FreemanI have friends who are in the “eat clean” camp. In this place there are different levels of eating clean.

Of course, there are the “eat clean” in name only. These people eat clean sometimes. They spend extra money on organic and GMO-free foods at the grocery store for the family to eat at home. They’ll even talk a big game about eating better food and “all those hormones and chemicals in commercial food.” But, the true story is they only eat at home one meal a day. The kids eat organic Pop Tarts for breakfast and mom and dad pick up fast food for lunch. A few times a week, they grab a hot dog at the ball field and of course, Friday night is a good time for the family to go out to eat.

The opposite end of the spectrum are the Eat Clean Nazis. These people would rather die than give their babies commercial formula or baby food, and they grow as much of their food as possible. If they can’t find a “clean” source of a particular food item, they go without rather than contaminate their bodies with something that’s not natural, organic, and GMO-free. Theirs are the kids who are carrying tiny baggies of carrots on field trips because a Cheeto had better never cross their all-natural lips.

Of course, the people who exist on Big Macs and French fries are looked down upon by both groups. And these folks aren’t really sure what to make of folks like me.

I garden, raise chickens, and try to raise as much of our food as possible. I strive to minimally use pesticides and herbicides on our farm. I cook from scratch, and we don’t go out to eat very often. I seldom buy processed foods like snack cakes, Doritos, and other unnecessary munchies. My son bemoaned to a friend of ours who works for a bakery, “My mom never buys those snack cakes. All she ever gets is ingredients.”

That said, I don’t bake all my own bread. We eat tortilla chips and, when the cow is dry, buy commercially-raised dairy products. Yes, I buy canned tomatoes, and *gasp*—Friday night I made a crock pot of my Once-A-Year Rotel Dip and Chips. With Velveeta.

So I don’t really fit into any group. I try hard to feed my family the highest quality of food that I can, but I don’t get crazy about it. I don’t have the time or the money with a house of six people. I do hope to raise my kids to appreciate the food that they eat, and, really, they do. My older two teens have a fairly well-developed palate. They feel gross after eating fast food and eagerly look forward to eating Mom’s food after spending a few days at camp or some other place with cafeteria-style fare.

To the Eat Clean Nazis,” I give a thumbs up. Good job. But don’t live your life in fear of eating something that’s not perfect. Once a year, indulge in the Rotel dip at a Superbowl party. Or at my house at a cookout. Have a birthday cake with artificial coloring on it.

To the “'eat clean' in name only,” I’ll give you points for knowing how to eat well. Just do it a little more often. It doesn’t take much more effort to pack an (organic) yogurt cup and some fruit for lunch. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that overly processed foods are okay because they’re organic. Whether a pop tart is organic or not, it’s still a pop tart, and it’s still not good for you and your kids on a regular basis. Make some whole wheat toast with jam instead.

We all can probably use some work cleaning up our diets. The biggest change can be simply learning to cook well. Cooking is a skill that takes time, and that’s why it’s one that’s so hard to improve upon.

Here are a few things to keep in mind about cooking:

• You will get better at it. Just be patient and keep trying.

• Simple is good. Learn a few basic seasonings, and flavor stuff with that. Eventually you’ll be able to branch out and know what herbs go well with what foods.

• Have someone else help with the cleanup. Cooking is less daunting if it’s not followed by 45 minutes of cleaning.

• The more you cook, the quicker you’ll be at churning out home-cooked meals.

• Talk to experienced cooks and get a menu plan from them.

• Use your crock pot on busy days. It’s awesome to walk into an empty cold house at the end of the day and smell your supper fully cooked in the crock pot.

Eat wellFood Buffet by Danny Ayers via Flikr

Eating well is so important. Relax and enjoy your food and its preparation. But don’t look down upon those who don’t know as well as you do. Or those who have other priorities in life. It’s all good!

Happy Eating!