Sunday, June 26, 2011

Growth and Revolution

I have a lot of picture posts to do (anniversary, birthday, 7 month update), but I haven't had time to download the pictures yet.
Some changing has been going on around our house for the last several months. With all of Mom's health issues and the research Dad has been doing and the things I've been learning, I have started really taking note of what we eat. Maybe I just haven't "gotten" it before, maybe the people I heard from weren't explaining it (more finger-shaking than teaching). I don't know. But a combination of things has caused me to look more closely at this area of our lives. Dad has been a great source of research for me...I don't know how he has time to learn all that he does with all he does, but he learns and he shares. He doesn't lecture (I can't believe I'm saying that! ha), he shares. And to me, I think that's the greatest way to educate someone. I stumbled across a show on hulu last night, "Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution" (he focuses on school food for the most part). I think the reason I like it so much is the way he teaches these kids and families about nutrition and food. He doesn't rage and rant about organic food. He's passionate about healthy eating and shares how to eat healthier. He makes the point that thLinkese kids aren't taught in school anymore about nutrition or cooking. Home Ec was a REQUIRED class when I was in high school. I don't even know if they have Home Ec anymore, let alone require it.
So, what am I doing about it? I look at my family history and I see the health problems that are trickling down through the generations...obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems, high cholesterol. It scares me! Aaron loves salads and vegetables. He'll snack on lettuce for Pete's sake! I like them, too but if I have a choice I'd prefer chips or chocolate to snack on. I believe it's a mix of learned habits and genetics. Aaron grew up snacking on carrots and celery on road trips. I had candy bars and pop. I'm not saying my parents are bad for letting me have those (honestly, I don't remember as a little kid what we had, but I know when I was in high school that's what I had). But then I look at my kids and I see genetics playing a bigger part of it. Anna and Jacob started out eating the exact same things-when they started baby food, it was fruit and veggies, table food-same thing. They were both offered and made to eat vegetables. Jacob never liked them much. Anna always did. Good grief, she would eat a salad at 2 yrs old! I kept offering Jacob the same vegetables over and over. I always made him eat veggies. He'll eat broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans...but he doesn't usually ask for seconds and he sure won't ask for them as a snack. Anna does. He will however ask for seconds of anything sweet and he would drink pop all day, every day if I let him. They're both allowed to drink pop (not so much any more though!), but Anna will usually ask for milk or water instead. So I look at those two and I see that some of it has to be genetic. That doesn't mean I'm going to give in and let him have all the sweets he wants and none of the vegetables. It just means healthy eating is going to be harder for him, just like it is for me.
The more I learn about nutrition and the things that are allowed by the USDA, the more shocked I am. And the more it makes me want even better for my children. Did you know that some ground beef can be made with renderings from beef (that are usually used for dog food) "washed" with an ammonia solution?! And that the USDA doesn't require that to be listed on the label??
Did you know the shellac (shiny, hard shell) on candy comes from the secretions of a bug?! Seriously...

"This coating is not vegan and most likely not vegetarian either as it may, and probably does, contain crushed insects."

Is that not disturbing?

Eating organic/natural can be pretty expensive. Which is why America is having an obesity epidemic! When it's cheaper to buy a hamburger washed in ammonia than it is to buy a pound of organic apples...what do we expect? The grocery budget is usually at the top of the list for the chopping block when you try to cut back. Believe me, I know about cutting back expenses! There is literally no other area that we can cut back in besides food. I have noticed that the price of organic food has come down a little bit. And it's more available than it was a couple years ago. Our store in town has a FEW organic items. WalMart is carrying more and more. The Dillons in Hutch carries a lot of organic, especially produce. Another way I can save money is with my garden. I wish I had a bigger one, but this year I've got 12 tomato plants, 6 pepper plants, green beans, 2 cucumbers, and 4 zucchini plants (all for just $12!). I want to be able to plant potatoes, onions, carrots, cantaloupe, watermelon, and strawberries and have some blueberry and raspberry bushes along with fruit trees. That's the dream anyway! ;) There is also an organic farm (Jako, Inc.) nearby where I can get grass-fed beef, cage-free chicken, and organic produce. I was talking to a friend several months ago and she made an astute observation...if you try to go "organic" all at once, in everything, you'll go broke and you'll "fizz out". Do a little at a time until you eventually get there. For me, there are 3 main things that I want to avoid right away-high fructose corn syrup (which is HARD! It's in practically everything!!), non-organic beef and chicken, and candy/sweets. The first two will be expensive but the last one is simply a matter of not buying pop and candy. Although WalMart does carry cage-free chicken that isn't much more than the Tyson chicken. And there's a local farm that has great eggs for $1.50/dozen.
So we're on a journey to healthier eating. I'm so glad that Aaron is 100% supportive and encouraging. The more I learn, the more I want to share and the more I want to change. It doesn't make you a bad person if you don't buy organic fruit for your kids. It doesn't make you stupid if you don't know about these things. But I do think it's important to know where our food comes from and to be more aware of what we put into our bodies. We can say "Well, my parents/grandparents ate this and they're fine!" but the real problem is a generation or two away. Look at the kids in school today and you'll see the health problems that are usually prevalent in adults. I think most of that has to do with our unhealthy eating habits-at home and in schools.
Anyway, I hope this makes some sense and maybe educates someone just a little bit. I'll still be your friend if you let my kids drink a pop when they're at your house or eat plain ol' potato chips! ;) I'm not an organic snob. :)

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