Monthly Archives: January 2010

Weekly menu plan

Last night when I sat down to plan our weekly menu, I pushed a piece of paper and pan towards the older kids and told them to write down anything they’d like to have this week.  This week’s menu is pretty much based on whatever they said they wanted.  You won’t see many vegetables listed, and that’s because I need to do some vegetable shopping – haven’t bought any produce for three weeks- so whatever I end up getting will flesh out the meals for the week.

Shabbos (Sabbath) – night – challah, chicken soup, roast chicken, ratatouille, potato kugel, beet salad, dried fruit (figs, dates, raisins, prunes), peanut butter cups; lunch – chicken, cholent (beef stew), kishke (stuffing), sweet potato pie, carrot raisin salad, beet salad, coconut chocolate bars

Sunday- brunch – blueberry pancakes with sour cream; snack- broccoli-cheese sticks; dinner – chicken, salads

Monday – b – polenta with sour cream; l – leftovers from Shabbos ; d – potato soup and dumplings

Tuesday – b – coconut flour biscuits; triple berry compote (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries); l- potato soup with veggies; d – turkey stir fry with quinoa and sauteed vegetables

Wednesday- b – Amish oatmeal; l – pizza (lately we’ve been making two kinds of crusts, the usual whole wheat crust, and then a gluten free crust made of nut flour), carrot fries; d- hearty split pea soup

Thursday – b – omelets; l – split pea soup; d – to be determined

(Breakfasts will be supplemented by milk.)

Today I have a pot of turkey broth started that will be the basis of the potato soup and split pea soup; that will add lots of great flavor and nutrient density to them.  Also, dh is starting the GAPS diet and broth is the primary foundation of the first stage, so as much broth as I already make every week (about 20 quarts or so), I’ll be making even more now!  I learned about this diet a year or two ago as part of my ongoing unofficial nutritional research.  I recently suggested it would be helpful to him in improving his digestion.  We bought the book and it hasn’t yet arrived, but the diet is online for free.  I keep meaning to post about the importance of diet as the foundation for healing just about everything, but it’s such a big topic that I’ve been pushing it off for months!  There’s so much you can do to help yourself and your family build their health just through the food you feed them.  As I wrote last night, food is powerful in a number of ways!

The turkey from the broth will be used for the turkey stir fry on Tuesday night.  I’ll share later on in the week about how easy it is to make flavorless soup chicken delicious!

Today I’m trying an experiment. I’ve been doing some experimental cooking/baking to minimize grains over the past couple of months, and a while ago found a recipe for pizza crust that uses cauliflower as the base.  I haven’t yet tried it (I’ve preferred the hazelnut crust I’ve been using) but was thinking that I can adapt the concept to make broccoli-cheese sticks that will make a great snack.  I’ll let you know if the experiment is successful and share the details if it is.

I’m also going to cook up the triple berry compote today so it will be on hand to serve on Tuesday morning.  This is another experiment of mine (those of you who have been reading here for a while know that most of my cooking is experimental!) but I’m sure it will be good.  There’s not much you can do to ruin a blend of three yummy berries, right?

Otherwise I haven’t been in the kitchen much today; I’ve been poring over fruit tree catalogs, trying to figure out what to order for spring planting.  And then thinking about other kinds of planting I’d like to do; medicinal plants, edible landscaping, and how to best use the small amount of space I have.  The problem is that I’m going to have to choose since there are so many I want and I’ll only be able to have a fraction of them.  Sigh.  I haven’t finished but I’m making some headway. :)

(This post is part of Menu Plan Monday.)

Avivah

Couldn’t breakfast be cheaper?

>>Maybe it’s because by 7 -7:30 every one but me has to be out of the house, but our breakfast is always fresh bread and spreads, and you have what I’d call “fancy” and varied breakfast every day. Why? Wouldn’t you save time (and maybe expenses) by having only bread and bits for this meal?<<

I responded to this question in brief in the comments section, but wanted to bring it back up here since there are a couple of other issues that I didn’t respond to there.

It’s true that if saving time and money was my highest priority for breakfast, I could  cook differently.  For example, I can buy 50 lb of oats for under $25, and at that price I could easily serve oatmeal every day and spend less than $1 total for the entire family for breakfast!   It doesn’t get much cheaper than that!  And as I’ve written in the past, oatmeal can be a fast meal to prepare.

However, I see mealtimes in a slightly different way than just a time to fuel everyone as fast and cheaply as I can.  Food has emotional power in addition to providing physical nourishment.  When you eat foods that taste good, you tend to have positive associations surrounding the food.  Making different foods that our children enjoy is an easy way to use the emotions associated with food to connect our children with us and one another when we sit down to eat.

Also, I’m sure everyone has noticed that there’s a widespread belief that healthy food isn’t appealing and the ‘good stuff’ is the typical fare that most Americans are eating.  Along with that belief is the idea that having less to spend on food means being deprived.  My kids don’t see other people eating or shopping like us.  We rarely buy processed foods, and when we do, it’s the kind of processed food that most people consider wildly healthy, we integrate traditional principles of food preparation into all of our meals as a matter of course, and our food budget of $600 monthly (family of 11) is less than anyone I know.

Every time I serve a meal I have the opportunity to show my kids that healthy foods are delicious and not a reason to feel deprived; that’s daily mental programming towards their attitudes and outlook on food!   And it’s working!  Despite the fact that when kids feel different there’s a tendency to feel like the mainstream view is better and resent being put in the position of not being like everyone else, my kids feel happy to eat the way we do.  They’ve told me (kids ages 10 and up) that when they were younger they thought their friends who could have frozen pizza three times a day were lucky, but now they see it differently.

Lastly, though I’ve often thought how much simpler my weekly menu planning would be if I just made the same things week in and week out, I enjoy the variety!

Avivah

Too Good to be Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

The inspiration for these incredibly yummy and good for you treats came from the plastic tray that the all natural falafel patties I bought came in.  I rarely buy processed foods, even natural processed foods, so these trays were an unusual bonus!  The tray had eight round molded spaces where each patty was and looked so nice that I started thinking about what I could use them for.  A couple of days later I had this burst of inspiration!  The final result tasted decadent and looked beautiful, since the molding on the bottom gave it the look of fancy chocolates (I served mine upside down so that the molding was on top).  They looked so good I was tempted to take a picture to show you, but of course I didn’t because that would have meant figuring out how to post them. :roll:

If you don’t have any creative molds that you rescued from recycling :), don’t despair!  You can use a pan or other flat container and cut them into bars, or you can pour them into metallic mini muffin cups.  They’ll taste good either way.

Too Good to Be Healthy Peanut Butter Cups

Chocolate layer: (some of you will recognize this as my healthy chocolate recipe)

  • 1/2 c. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/8 – 1/4 c. honey

Melt the coconut oil and stir the other ingredients in; mix until smooth.  Pour the chocolate into the bottom of the pan or fill the molds with a thin layer, leaving half of the chocolate for the topping.  Let cool while you prepare the peanut butter filling.  (The chocolate will have the taste of semi sweet dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. I experimented using coconut milk to see if I could make it more similar to milk chocolate, but wasn’t satisfied with the consistency.)

filling:

  • 3/4 c. creamy peanut butter (I use organic, with only sea salt added)
  • 2 T. honey
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil
  • 1/3 c. ground nuts (I used pecan meal)

Melt the coconut oil, stir in honey, vanilla, and then the peanut butter.  When smooth, stir in the ground nuts.  Spread the peanut butter filling on top of the chocolate, whether it’s in a mold or a pan.  Finally, take the remaining chocolate mixture (if it’s started to solidify, heat it gently for a couple of minutes until it’s liquidy and easy to pour) and pour it on top of the peanut butter layer, smoothing it so that the top is even. Refrigerate or freeze.

Healthy chocolates are super expensive, and these are a fraction of the price!  Not only that, they’re packed with healthy fats and are very satisfying; two make a nice dessert that you don’t have to feel guilty about.  And they are so good you can serve them to your junk food loving friends, too!

(This post is part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays Pennywise Platter Thursdays and Fight Back Fridays.)

Avivah

Vitamin C for your health

Last week, my ds16 had tonsillitis.  I can’t remember any of the kids ever having tonsillitis before; they tend to just get generic colds that don’t last long when they do come down with something.  I’m very inclined to believe that it’s not a coincidence that he got such a bad case now since he recently came off of antibiotics from having his wisdom teeth out.  This was only the second time in his life he had antibiotics; the other eight kids have never had any antibiotics at all.  (I unfortunately didn’t realize he’d have the antibiotics prescribed for this and hadn’t researched how to deal with it in advance.)   As everyone knows, antibiotics kill off bacteria, good and bad, and it leaves a person’s immune system weakened afterwards, which is why people often get sick again once they come off the antibiotics.

Ds was feeling really horrible, and I suggested a few things to him, one of which was a specific dosage of vitamin C to take.  The next day, he wasn’t feeling much better, which surprised me somewhat, but the body takes time to heal and it’s unreasonable to expect it to be instantaneous.  The following morning (ie day 3) when he still felt sick, I asked him how much vitamin C he had taken the day before.  He told me he didn’t take any after the first day.  I strongly told him he needed to take some right that minute; I think he took 20 grams (20,000 mg) and then an hour or two later another 20 grams.

A few hours later he told me he couldn’t believe it, but he felt drastically better (he had been in a lot of pain, stiff neck, hard to swallow).  The next day when I mentioned an alternative remedy for something, this son said, “Mommy, if you say it, I believe you.  I’m not going to doubt you again.  That vitamin C was totally amazing!”

Most people don’t realize that there are differences in how vitamin C is metabolized by the body, and the specific form you take is imortant.  Sodium ascorbate is the best form to take.  Unfortunately, you will rarely find it in your local health food store.  And if your experience is anything like mine, the people who work there won’t have any idea what you’re talking about when you ask for it.  We buy our  sodium ascorbate in the kilo sized container here.

The other thing people don’t realize is how much you need to take.  Most people will take one or two doses of 1000 mg when they’re under the weather.  That’s not going to do much.  You’d be shocked by how much vitamin C the body needs when it’s fighting off a cold.  I told ds how much I wanted him to take and he thought it was way too much, but I told him if he was showing bowel tolerance that his body was using every bit of it.  (I read somewhere the Linus Pauling – winner of two Nobel prizes who did lots of research on vitamin C-  would take 16 grams daily when well and up to 110 grams when ill!)

If you want to figure out the dosage in a more formal way than bowel tolerance, here are a couple of guidelines that I’ve seen recommended.  First of all, you need to figure out the body weight of the person in question in kilograms.  To do that, divide the weight in pounds by 2.2 to get the weight by kilograms.  Multiply the weight in kg x 100 (some say 200 so this is conservative) for the minimum mg per day.  For babies, it’s a little different: 200 – 375 mg per kg of body weight.  We stir the crystals it into a little bit of juice and it’s easy to take like that, even for the little ones.

A friend called a few days ago to let me know her teenage son has just gotten the mumps (from a roommate who was vaccinated); fortunately she’s among the small minority who are educated enough so that she’s not concerned.  Don’t even get me started about the misinformation and fear mongering that’s been going on about the mumps recently.   I seriously wish that parents would do some research to understand the real issues and concerns instead of needlessly panicking.  Anyway, mumps isn’t the topic of this post but I mentioned it since it’s on my mind as one more example of something that can be effectively treated with massive doses of vitamin C.

There’s lots of interesting reading available about vitamin C and how effective it is in supporting the body to heal many different diseases, but I’ll give you just one site to get you started if you want to learn more.  I haven’t read even a fraction of what there is to learn about vitamin C.  But knowing what I do, it’s very comforting to have it in my arsenal against sickness.  :)

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays and Works for Me Wednesdays.)

Avivah

Making plans for college

Today I finally got myself down to the community college to speak to an advisor regarding my kids.   I didn’t have a huge number of questions, but the questions I had were significant enough that it was keeping me from being able to firm up a plan.  You know, when your kids are at school, the need for parental involvement (and knowledge) can be less important since there are guidance counselors and teachers your children can turn to for college guidance.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t matter if parents are involved – of course it does! – but if your child is homeschooled and you don’t get involved, they’re really on their own. So I needed to get some clarity so I could better guide them.

Of course, since the winter semester begins really, really soon (as in tomorrow or the next day), the place was packed.  After I signed in to see an advisor, I went to wait in a room with at least thirty others.  Whew!  I used the time to read through all those handouts that I had picked up, which helped me focus my questions.   They will allow students in 8 – 10th grades in for up to two classes a semester, but they have to be labeled gifted and talented, and I’m not interested in trying to jump through the hoops to get dd labeled for that (besides the fact that I don’t really care for labels like gifted).  They allow early admittance for 11th and 12th graders, but they still would be limited to taking 2 classes a semester and as high school students, we wouldn’t be able to apply for any financial aid. At about $600 a class, paying the full costs out of pocket for two children would add up very quickly!

My initial thought was to enroll each of them for the winter semester for a couple of classes to ease them into college, but that’s not worth the effort involved at this time.   So after considering all of the options, I asked the advisor if they officially graduated at the end of this year, if they could be admitted as full time students in the fall.  She said that it was fine, that once a child has a high school diploma, they aren’t concerned about his/her age anymore.

This doesn’t make a huge difference to their homeschooling schedules, which will pretty much stay the same except that I’ll increase the science and history for them so that they have the full amount of required credits for high school graduation.  It does mean I need to get myself in gear to start organizing the paperwork – I don’t enjoy officially documenting all that we do!  But I’ll need to put all my notes together for their official transcripts.  I’m also thinking that they can both look into earning credit by examination between now and the fall if they are so inclined, and then when they enter, they’ll have some credits under their belts. That will help them maximize their time and energy.

Though this isn’t written in stone and things can (and probably will) change somewhat, it’s nice to have a direction to move in.  Now dd13 is asking me to help her get started on college preparatory work – yikes!

Avivah

Weekly menu plan

Wow, the past week has zoomed by.  I can’t believe it’s already time to post my weekly menu!

Shabbos – dinner- challah, soup, roast chicken, potatoes,  asparagus, carrot kugel, salads, peanut butter cups (will share recipe later this week); lunch – cholent, kishke, kugel, salads, fresh mangoes, power bars

Sunday – breakfast – french toast; lunch – eggs and cream cheese; dinner- beef stew, carrot sticks, salads

Monday – b – lemon blueberry muffin loaf; l – chicken vegetable soup, toast; d – falafel, techina, chopped lettuce, ginger carrots and pickled green beans

Tuesday – quinoa pudding; l – baked stuffed potatoes (broccoli and cheese); d – red beans and rice with sausage, roasted vegetables

Wednesday – b – banana bread ; l – eggs, eggplant casserole; d – black bean quinoa burgers

Thursday – b – baked banana oatmeal; l – turkey hash; d – CORN (Clean Out Refrigerator Night)

It’s hard for me to believe that we’ve finished over three quarts of elderberry syrup in four months, but we have!  This afternoon I made a small batch of elderberry syrup with the last of the dried elderberries.

About ten months ago, we were given a case of frozen bananas.  Today I got a call from the person who gave them to us then, asking if we’d be interested in another case of frozen bananas.  His wife works in the food industry and the institution had more than they needed, so the bananas were peeled and then frozen when they were started to get spotted so that they wouldn’t get overripe.  It’s a good thing that when I went shopping last month, I decided not to get a case of bananas, isn’t it?!  And it’s also a good thing I know what to do with frozen bananas!  As you see, the bananas were worked into this week’s menu.

Tonight I started a new batch of turkey broth brewing on the stove.  I soaked the red beans and black beans and will drain them in the morning so they will have time to sprout before Tues/Weds night dinners.  Since I have a fresh batch of sauerkraut that’s just about finished and a couple more batches of lacto fermented vegetables in the fridge, I’m not going to make anymore this week.

Oh, I have to add my usual comment that breakfast is generally supplemented by fruit and raw milk, lunch and dinner with vegetables in some form.

Avivah

20th high school reunion

A couple of weeks ago I got an invitation to my twentieth high school reunion, to be held in conjunction with the annual fundraising dinner for the school in just a couple more weeks.  My first thought was that I can’t go because I’m not accomplished enough, thin enough, rich enough – you know, stinking thinking!  I spoke to a few friends and my wonderful dh about this, all of whom told me I was crazy and I should go if I could.

I was in a small high school and there were only 18 girls in my class, and because I spent the first ten years after high school overseas, I haven’t really stayed in touch with anyone.  So the idea of reconnecting with everyone was really appealing! However, it would mean a drive of 3.5 hours in each direction, and because I would be leaving the kids behind, we’d have to drive back late at night at the end of the evening.  And there would be the expense of seats for dh and I to the fundraising dinner.

I was willing to do all of that if I’d have a chance to spend talking with old friends.  But since it’s going to be part of the larger evening’s events, there really won’t be much time to socialize, and when I emailed the contact person, she said so far only three classmates have confirmed their attendance.  So though I’m disappointed and would have enjoyed being able to see whoever came, I won’t be going.

Then tonight I got an email from a friend from sixth grade, who told me about the high school reunion taking place next year and said she and others would love it if I came.  I know, it sounds funny that I can have one reunion scheduled for 2010  and one for 2011, but that’s because I skipped seventh grade.  (If I hadn’t started first grade when I was 5, 2012 would be my official reunion year. :)  )  And though it probably sounds far less likely for me to attend the one in 2011 due to the distance (it will be in MS) and other factors, I’m really seriously considering it.  I was only part of that class for 1.5 years, but I have very warm memories.  I had the chance to reconnect with four classmates five years ago when I returned to that area to visit a relative.  You wouldn’t think people would remember someone who spent such a short time in their school, would you?  They did, th0ugh, and it was really nice.  My kids would enjoy the trip, too.  It’s good it’s far enough in the future that I have plenty of time to think about it and work out the logistics.

Have any of you attended high school reunions?  Was it what you expected?  I’d love to hear your experiences!

Avivah

Saving money on deodorant

For years, the idea of anti-perspirant has bugged me.  It’s always seemed counter intuitive to health to keep perspiration from being released (one way the body releases toxins).  And I’ve also always wondered about if there’s a connection between breast cancer and anti-perspirant, since the lymph nodes are right under the armpit and if they get blocked up, it makes sense that a person will get sick.

Well, regardless of my mental cogitating on all of this, I like looking and smelling socially acceptable and this wasn’t something I was going to give up.   I had tried a crystal but it didn’t work at all, and the healthy deodorant alternative in the store was mucho money and I didn’t want to spend that without knowing it would work really well.

But about a year ago in the winter, I decided it was a good time for an experiment in this area, since if it wasn’t working no one but me would know. :) I started applying a sprinkle of baking soda in place of deodorant, and I found that it worked great!  I stayed fresher than I ever did with deodorant!  Because I prefer to try things for a while before sharing them to make sure they really work, I didn’t want to post about it here until I had gone through all the seasons.  So it’s been over a year now and I can say with confidence it’s worked great though all kinds of weather, hot and cold.

However, there were two downsides to my solution.  One – it was slightly messy, since a sprinkling of baking soda would fall on my bathroom counter. That’s easily enough taken care of by a daily wipe down, but still it was a down side.  And it is kind of wasteful.   Two – my teenagers had no interest in trying my solution, even though they tend to be open to my ideas.

So, I decided it was time to find a solution that would work for them, and we did!  I saved a few empty deodorant containers, and made an effective, healthy, and inexpensive alternative to deodorant.  And it took all of five minutes to make a few bars worth. (The recipe below will make one or two bars, depending on the size you make it.)

Homemade Deodorant

  • 1/4 c. baking soda
  • 1/4 c. cornstarch
  • 2 T. coconut oil (expeller pressed)
  • optional – ten drops of essential oil

Melt the coconut oil in a small pot.  Stir in the baking soda and cornstarch until smooth.  If you want to add a scent to it, add ten drops of essential oil now.  I didn’t, because all I had on hand was tea tree oil and my kids hate the smell of it.

You’re going to have a soft white paste.  Take out the empty deodorant containers, and turn them so the little thing in the middle is down as low as it can go.  Then fill the containers, and let them sit on the counter until they harden.  Once it’s firm, use like any regular anti-perspirant – it will look just like what you buy in the stores, and my kids have said it works great and are happy to use it.

If you don’t have an empty deodorant container and don’t feel like waiting to have one to try this, find a couple of empty toilet paper tubes.  It seems to me that if you stand the empty tube on top of a wax paper or pan and then pour the mixture in, you can let it harden in place.  Then once it’s firm you can cut down the side that has the paper tube sticking up, leaving enough over so that you can fold the sides of it down over the bottom like you would wrap a present.  Then turn it right side up and just push it up from the bottom as you want to use it.

How does this work?  Baking soda is known to be an absorber of smell, and the cornstarch wicks away moisture.  I’m sure the coconut oil is beneficial as an antibacterial factor as well.  If you add the essential oils, it mostly just makes it smell nice.

The cost for this is very, very low.  I pay under .50 lb for baking soda (.06 for 1/4 cup), and around a dollar for a cup of expeller pressed coconut oil (.13 cents for 2 T.).  I haven’t bought corn starch in ages so I have no idea how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.  So for under .25 cents, I’ve been able to make a generous sized deodorant that works great, without any of the negative side effects!

(This post is part of Fight Back Fridays and Frugal Fridays.)

Avivah

Making homemade buckwheat noodles (gluten free)

I’ve had this noodle recipe in my file for months, waiting to make it, and I finally got around to it this week!  Flours and grains need to be soaked to neutralize the phytic acid, but when you buy whole grain pasta at the store, it generally hasn’t been soaked or sprouted.  That means that even though you think you’re buying something really good for you, your body isn’t able to absorb most of the additional nutrients. So the health benefit isn’t very substantial.

Until now, my solution has been to cut our consumption of store bought whole grain pasta so that having it is a rare occasion; I treat it as a semi-junk food.  However, by making it myself I can soak the flour so that the phytic acid issue is no longer a concern.  So these noodles really are good for you!

Homemade Buckwheat Noodles (gluten free)

  • 2 c. buckwheat flour
  • 1/2 – 2/3 c. water
  • 1/2 T. raw apple cider vinegar (we use Bragg’s)

Mix the water and apple cider vinegar together, and then stir together with the flour.  It’s going to seem like you don’t have enough water when you add a 1/2 cup; add some more a little bit at a time since you don’t want it to become too sticky to work with.  You’ll need to work it with your hands for a few minutes until the moisture is all worked through the flour.  Let this sit overnight (this step is the one that reduces the phytic acid, so don’t skip it.)

When you’re ready to roll it out, sprinkle some kind of flour (gluten free, if that’s a concern for you) on the work surface, then a little on top of the dough.  Roll out the dough to be about 1/8″ thick.  Using a sharp knife, cut the noodles into thin slices (you can be creative with shapes if you like).  Then add them to a pot of salted boiling water and let cook for several minutes.  How long you cook them will depend on the thickness of the dough and the size of your noodles.  You’ll know they’re done when they are tender but still a little chewy.

You can substitute wheat flour if you want to make regular noodles.  Experiment with different kinds of flour, using this same basic recipe, and see what kind of combinations you can come up with!  Be sure to soak it overnight, though.  It would be a shame to spend the time making these and not end up with the good nutrition that your time warrants.  I’m planning to try dehydrating some next time we make them so I can make these in advance and then store them like store bought pasta.

I made four times this amount for our family for dinner, so I used about two pounds of buckwheat flour.  Generally I buy buckwheat and grind it myself but I got some buckwheat flour at a super cheap price, less than buying it whole (I paid .99 for the 2 lb. box; generally I pay about 1.60 lb).   This made a very abundant amount of noodles for dinner tonight, that we served together with a meat sauce (slight change in menu), carrot fries, lacto fermented green beans and ginger carrots.

Avivah

Vote with your food dollars

After months of waiting, we finally got the documentary Food, Inc from the library!  Wow, was this a powerful program, and I already was familiar with most of the ideas and information in it.  Seriously, you absolutely must run to your library and put this on hold.  The kids liked it so much they asked if they could watch it a second time (which they did today), and dh said after watching it that it impressed on him the significance of  the food choices we make, not just as individuals but for society.

Food, Inc. covered a lot of ground in 90 minutes – industrial chicken/beef/hog production, e coli and salmonella contaminations and their origination in the contained animal feedlot operations,  seed patents, poorly paid workers, the danger of mega corporations controlling our food and seed supply, and sustainable alternatives.

The main message that I walked away from this program with, was to recognize that every single person has some power to effect a change in our industrial food system.  The only positive thing which you can say about it is that the food is cheap, which isn’t an insignificant point since cost is a very real concern for many of us.  But when one looks at the overall picture, you see that the food that we think is so inexpensive actually has a much higher cost that we don’t see when we choose to buy a product.  This program pulls back the veil so we get a glimpse of things that go on behind the scenes, facts that can help us make choices with a better educated perspective.

What I’ve generally found in the past is that I’ve felt powerless and discouraged when I looked at the multinational corporations that control our food supply and felt like whatever I bought or didn’t buy really didn’t make a difference.  So what was most valuable for me in watching Food, Inc. was to hear a CEO of a major organic company say that while consumers think they have to take what industry provides for them and have no power, it’s actually exactly the opposite.  It’s the consumers demanding something else that will bring about change.

We don’t have to be advocates fighting the battle on Capitol Hill to make a difference.  Just choosing to buy the better product (even if it’s a bit more expensive) or letting the owners/managers know what we’d like to see is sending a message.  Since watching this a couple of days ago I’ve contacted two local kosher butchers and let them know I’d like to see them carrying grass fed meat (and one said he is planning to have some in stock for the first time in the next few days – I am soooo excited!!), and plan to share a suggestion with the local kosher supermarket that they do the same (I’ll include ordering info and possible sources for them).

We really do vote with our food dollars.  As it said in Food, Inc., every time we scan something at the checkout, we’re voting for the kind of food we want to see.  When you’re on a limited budget, as we are, sometimes we may to forced to make a choice of quality over quantity, and sometimes we don’t have even that luxury.

It’s easy to say something like cut out all the processed food to make room in the budget for organics, etc, but that presumes that there are expensive processed foods to be cut out in the first place!  I have a set budget to work within ($600 monthly for 11 people) and I’ve been able to feed our family healthfully and amply on that sum.  I’ve been continually making nutritional upgrades to our way of eating over the last few years, and every one of them costs more than the previous option I’m leaving behind!   So while I want to encourage everyone to be conscious that the choices you make when you shop really matter, I also believe that there’s no room for personal guilt if you’re doing the best you can and you find yourself limited by what you can do and what you want to do.

(This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays.)

Avivah