The What. The Who. The Why.

What we are doing:

Starting today, May 1, 2013, my family and I have challenged ourselves to 5 WEEKS of living the Real Food lifestyle!  And, boy, are we psyched!

OK.  That’s how I’d like this blog to begin.  But I’m pretty sure my 12 year old son would explain it more like this (you can imagine the tween ennui):

“So Mom gets this brilliant idea that we aren’t eating healthy enough and we need to be nicer to the planet or whatever.  So she tells Dad that she has this great idea for all of us to start eating none of the foods that we love.  Doesn’t that sound awesome? And we “get” to do way more cooking at home and shopping!  For food!  Do either of those things involve the XBox?  I don’t think so.  And, of course, Dad loves anything that will bring us misery and make us do more work, so he’s all ‘what a great idea! You should totally blog about it, too!’  — What, is this 2010?!  My parents are so lame….. [big sigh]”

As for me, I’m hoping the reality lies somewhere between the two!  My hope is that 5 Weeks is long enough to lead all of us to a long-lasting awareness of the impact of the food we choose to eat — on our bodies, our community, our planet.

What is Real Food?

Michael Pollan defined it in his great read, In Defense of Food : An Eater’s Manifesto , as food that would be recognizable to your great-grandmother, so probably not “froot by the foot” or “yogurt toobs”.  He, and a ton of other blogs and books on the topic, encourage us to also consider the source of the food, it’s impact on the environment, and the treatment of any animals involved in the process.  All of these influenced the development of my own family’s…. ta dah–

5 Rules (*see below for specifics):

1)  Eat all natural, organic, locally produced, humanely raised, and seasonal foods, whenever possible

2)  Eat foods that are more a product of nature than of industry

3)  Eat only 100% whole grains

4)  Use only natural sweeteners

5)  Drink only all natural beverages

*specifics:

1)  We’ll still eat meat, fish, and dairy, lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds and nuts; along with healthy baked goods (see below)

2)  No fast food (unless we make it ourselves — results of the Great French Fry Experiment coming soon!).  And anything that comes from a box, bag, or jar should have 5 or so ingredients and each ingredients is something we might have in our pantry, or as I like to think of it, something that the 5 year old could identify.

3)  No white flour, corn flour, enriched wheat flour, etc. — look for “whole grain” in the ingredient list or make it ourselves using whole grains (e.g. pancakes, brownies, pizza crust, and bread).

4)  No white sugar (or brown, or powdered, etc) — use natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar

5)  No sodas.  Only 100% fruit juices, milk, coffee, tea and water — all of which can be flavored or sweetened with anything natural.  And wine and beer are OK for the grownups.  I have not lost all sense of reason!

Who we are

We are a family of five — two parents and three boys: 12, 9, 5.  We live in Fort Wayne, Indiana — a mid-size city in the northeast corner of the state (which is near Michigan and Ohio for you non-Midwesterners who confuse all the “I” states! If you don’t know where Michigan and Ohio are…? Well, our public school system really has failed us all.)

My husband and I grew up in the Midwest but lived on the East Coast for almost 20 years.  We decided a few years ago to move back to raise our boys near family.  We both have always liked to cook (he’s the gourmet, I’m the day-to-day).   Relatively speaking, I think our kids are fairly adventurous and not-too-picky.  But, like most kids, they love their fast food, frozen pizzas and chicken nuggets — and it seems like we turn to those — more often than I like to admit — when the day gets crazy or the parents get lazy.

So when we decided to move back here, it was just about the time that the local/seasonal/sustainable food “trend” was hitting it big in the urban areas of the East Coast.  I was excited to move back to “the heartland” and be closer to the source of so much of our food.  But it hasn’t been as easy as I thought it would be to come across local food, which leads me to…

Why we are doing this:

What I have so far encountered (and I hope local readers will chime in and prove me wrong), is that it’s a bit more challenging here than I thought it would be.  First of all, we don’t have a Whole Foods or Trader Joes.  Really.  There are places in the United States that don’t have those!  But we do have national grocery chains, seasonal farmers markets, and a few independent natural food stores.  Plus, CSAs and local farms that sell their items onsite.  I think have a lot of investigative shopping to do!

As for restaurants, so far I’ve only come across a couple of restaurant that source their meat or produce locally — or at least that let you know they do.  We love to eat out, so we’ll be exploring the restaurant scene full on!

Like I said already, my hope is that this 5 Week focus will lead us to a larger awareness of the impact of the food we eat — on our bodies, our community, our planet.   “It sure would be swell if it sparks us to learn some new skills and bond over a common family goal, as well!” she says, naively?  It definitely gives us a good reason to get out into our community and talk about food — share what we are doing but, more importantly, learn from everyone else as well.  This is a topic that fits right in when we are doing the things we enjoy: entertaining in our home, eating out, shopping, and even volunteering at school.  I can’t wait to see what we learn!

(I hope we don’t end up just subsisting on wine/organic apple juice and whole wheat pretzels….  that would be bad.)

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