Everyone has a story. Every story has a beginning. My journey to Real Food began a little less than 5 years ago.
I sat in my living room, glued to the TV. (This, by the way, was highly unusual for me.) I was watching a documentary produced by the widow of Jerry Garcia called The Future of Food. Before watching this film, I had never — not even once — thought about where my food came from or what it was doing on my plate.
My infant son nursed quietly in my lap as I sat in stunned silence after the film ended.
My world had been rocked.
My eyes had been opened.
I saw how American agriculture languished in the stranglehold of giant agribusinesses, how genetically-modified foods had infiltrated my food supply, how I’d been ingesting noxious toxins and feeding them to my baby.
So, I started doing some research. And, I started making some changes. They weren’t radical or hard, just the natural steps a consumer would make as she grew more educated.
The Condensed Journey
Think of it like a meandering road, going ever on and on. Here’s a simple flow chart:
Organic Dairy -> CSA Organic Veggies -> Pastured Dairy & Eggs -> Pastured Meats -> Better Fats -> Soaking Grains & Bone Broths -> Raw Dairy -> Natural Sweeteners -> Sprouting Grains & Grinding Flour -> More Raw & Fermented Foods
That little trail took us 4 years to walk down!
But we are soooo glad that we did. Along the way, I was introduced to the books I now call MUST READS — those books which really helped inform and shape my convictions about what Real Food is and how we should eat it.
How has this changed our lives?
First — the challenges. Eating this way isn’t all that hard, but it does require planning. You have to know that if you’re making raw hummus, you need to sprout your chickpeas. You have to know that if you want an egg salad, you need to have enough of your homemade mayo already on hand. You have to know that if you’re going to use butter or animal fats in your cooking, you’ve got enough made or rendered. And, if you’re going to eat grains, you’ve got to make sure you’ve properly soaked or sprouted them to neutralize the phytic acid and make them digestible. Most importantly, you’ve got to have meals ready-to-go or frozen for those days when you’re just too lazy and would otherwise be tempted to eat out.
Now — the rewards. We feel great. While truly poor physical health never was a problem for us, we used to be plagued by dramatic mood swings and depression. Now, these aren’t really issues anymore. I also had an absolutely fantastic pregnancy compared with my first (which was done on a SAD) — no heartburn, no swelling, no mysterious pains or inflammation, no stretch marks (!), and no vericose veins. And, not one person in the family has been sick enough to warrant a visit to the doctor in at least three years. (I personally haven’t been to the doctor since my first son was born, a little less than 5 years ago!) Want to know who else is absent from our lives? The dentist! Eating this way, we all have great teeth.
Do you ever feel like you obsess too much about food?
No. Believe it or not, this is not an all-consuming passion, and we give ourselves a lot of grace. I know that the meals I prepare will be healthy, nutrient-dense, and wholesome. That gives us a bit of freedom to be more lax the rest of the time. When we eat out, at a friend’s home, or at church, we don’t worry so much about what we eat. I think keeping this healthy balance in perspective prevents nourishing food from becoming an idol.
Want to hear more stories about how eating a diet rich in traditional foods has transformed lives?
This post is part of the Real Food Wednesday Carnival.
This is great stuff. I am encouraged when I hear the story about your path to eating better. I have been slowly becoming more and more aware of the issuers that you talk about here. Bit by bit they are sinking in and I am beginning to feel more and more compelled to act on these new convictions.
When I read about all this I think, “Hey, I can at least do *some* of these things!” It sounds like the hardest bit is just thinking and planning ahead, and I can at least do that.
Thank you for investing the time to share these things. Can you recommend a good book for someone like me who is just starting to be a Food Renegade, and is trying really hard to begin acting on his convictions about all this?
What a great site you have, and what a wonderful service you’re doing for others! So glad you started your journey while your boy was still wee; it upsets me to think of what most children are ingesting into their little bodies.
Leo, Real Food by Nina Planck is good, as is Shannon Hayes’ fantastic cookbook, The Grassfed Gourmet. And Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.
Holly from SustainableSuppers
Your website is beautiful and so informative! I will have to keep checking in 😉
John H says
I’d love to read your list of “MUST READS”, but the link goes to a page that says:
“Sorry, but you are looking for something that isn’t here. Try something else.”
John — Thanks for the heads up. It’s fixed now.
Annie - Hip Organic Mama says
So there I am in awe of your blog and all that you’ve done, feeling like I haven’t made the commitment since we are still using some flour and a bit ashamed that I ever even posted those to my blog, but it’s all part of the journey, I know, and then I get a supportive note from you on my blog and I’m reminded I am doing some thing right. Thank you so much. Your blog and everything you have done is so inspirational!
We are a little more strict on our eating as we don’t eat out; it’s hard once you know, well, you know. And we can feel the difference with regular salt over sea salt. So now I am about to start to attack sprouting grains and using them to make the occasional goody for the kids so they don’t look elsewhere for that like I did as a kid. Your site is very helpful for this part of my journey. Thank you.
Annie – Hip Organic Mama
Aw shucks, Annie. We’re all here together!
And we’re really all in the same boat. It’s like we’re trying to reinvent the wheel — or at least rediscover it. It’s one of the things I dislike about our modern, transient culture — the way we’ve been deprived of our traditions and we don’t even know it. Most of us weren’t raised in a culture that had ANY lasting food traditions, and now here we all are trying to reclaim what we lost and pass along a better, healthier heritage for our children. I pray we’re successful.