I will be the first to admit that I am a slower learner- or perhaps I should say, slow "grower". I have been reflecting a lot lately on how God has really been faithful to change my heart over the years. I will hear a song in the car that reminds me of college and I think of how a lot of my ideas of the world have changed since then (if you told me in college that I would be a democrat in eight years, I would have scoffed!). One area of my life that has been "slow to grow" has to do with food.
I recall a sweet roommate in college (who shall remain nameless but you know who you are!) who switched to eating cage-free eggs while we lived in an apartment together. At the time, I thought she was loony and I am sure I wasn't very nice about it either (so sorry!). I have also been pretty skeptical about the whole organic thing. My rationale has been that because there isn't very clear scientific evidence supporting that organic food is significantly more healthy, I wasn't going to spend the extra time or money on it.
Another aspect of food that has been frustrating for me is convenience. I love to cook- to find a great recipe, re-create it and share it. But, having three kids, one of which needs to be held if he is awake, homeschooling and a husband who isn't always home around dinner time has dampened that area of life for me. And then there are the nights that I do cook something great and the kids both look at it and say, "That's gross" and don't touch a thing (oh and those are always the nights Matt calls and says,"Two more admissions and then I will be home." Translation: at least another hour). So, it ends up being just me, eating this meal I slaved over, holding a baby. Out of frustration, I have switched to doing whatever is easiest and causes the least stress for me and that the kids will eat. Not always very healthy and I have to give up one more thing I love to do (my favorite part of the day is making dinner and listening to NPR!).
Then Matt and I watched an eye-opening movie this past weekend called Food, INC. Now I get it. My slow-growing has finally caught up to me and I get it. Seeing where my food actually comes from, the corporation control of it, the treatment of the workers who are preparing food for my table opened my eyes to the reality I didn't really want to face. I won't go into too many details about the movie because I want you to see it for yourself, but I will share several things that I came away with.
The organic thing is so much more than just being more healthy for you (I am now convinced that it has to be more healthy for you but that is another point). It is the whole idea of knowing where your food comes from and who is preparing it that is eye opening for me. Are the animals being treated with respect (or are they even clean and fed what they were made to eat?)? Are the workers being treated with dignity and fairness? Do I have an understanding and connection with the food that is nourishing my body? Is it even food?
I also saw more of the big picture of food: how food production in this country is one more way we keep the poor from being healthy (it costs more to buy fresh carrots than it does to buy a bag of potato chips); how big corporations have so much control over farmers, which not only takes away their dignity but also, in turn, controls the food that is in our home; how we have SO much food in this country but we are still SO unhealthy; how the way how we eat effects the environment.
There is so much more but I don't have the time to write about it all (baby will be awake soon!). But what the topic of discussion around here this week has been is what to do with all this information and conviction (other than buy a farm and live off the land, which Matt shared is a dream of his- maybe for retirement!). One place we decided to start is where we buy our meat. There are several farms in the area we can go to directly and buy our meat- not only supporting local farmers but giving the kids a chance to see where their food is coming from. Another place to start is trying to buy organic whenever we can- we have already started with the kid's snack foods, staying away from additives and artificial stuff. Those are the easiest things for me to do right now. We were moderately healthy eaters to begin with- whole grains, no juice, balanced meals, etc. But a few changes in the bigger picture need to take place.
A harder obstacle is produce. It is a little late now to buy things in season from farmer's markets or a CSA and one thing our kids snack on a lot is fruits and veggies. So I am still buying produce at the grocery store and hopefully will be able to get more on the ball this spring and summer and maybe freeze some things for us to enjoy over the winter months. I am also having a hard time thinking about menu changes and how far to take this.
It can get overwhelming to think of all the things that could be over-hauled- cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, clothes, it could go on and on. Which is why it has taken me so long to tap into this area of my life, we have a lot going on right now! But, we will start and we will make slow progress and in the end, be changed (and even healthier!).