Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Food Goals

I recently watched the documentary Fresh on Netflix - and it presented the state of our country as far as where our food comes from in a not so gut wrenching way as "Food Inc." did. Food Inc made me feel guilty for the meat I was eating, and honestly left a really unsettled feeling deep inside (I suppose that's the purpose!). Fresh follows several different farmers in different industries (chickens, hogs, urban gardening in Milwaukie) who have made the choice to grow organic products and use the knowledge from industrialization combined with old world practices of diverse communities.

My favorite quote:
As we've industrialized, we've made food cheaper, but also diminished it nutritionally... there is no such thing as cheap food. The real cost of the food is paid somewhere. And if it isn't paid at the cash register, it's charge to the environment..to your body. ~ Fresh

Over the last few years I've tried to become more intentional about what I put into my and my family's body. I made the effort to go organic where feasible, and although I've been cooking home meals for quite some time now, I took it one step further and am eliminating processed foods where we can too. Here's some of the changes I've implemented:

Bread- on temporary hold
At the start of the year I made it my goal to be baking our own bread and not buying any bread products from the store. This takes a bit more work and has a shorter shelf life, but the difference in taste is phenomenal. I've successfully made soft pretzels (they're gone before you know it!), honey oatmeal bread, bunny-buns for Easter, and English muffins.  Truth be told, since Penelope's arrival I have not had the time (or energy) to bake bread - but as she is getting older and a little less dependant, I'll be back to baking bread in no time.

Eggs - soon!
In the search for our next home, we're looking for a place with some acreage - between one and three.  Growing up, I remember my parents keeping 2 chickens and a rooster. Fresh eggs are amazing. I would love to keep my own chickens and have Penelope's chore be getting the eggs. I've been doing some research on the benefits of farm fresh eggs vs. what we buy at the store.
  • Pasture raised chickens are happy chickens. They peck, scratch and dig for their food - which varies by what is available in the earth and from kitchen scraps from their people. It's the same concept as grass fed beef - these animals are out doing their natural thing, not confined to cages or feed lots and fed manufactured food. They are healthier and don't need antibiotic treatments, which produces a better product.
  • According to MotherEarthNews.com, farm fresh eggs boast:
    • 1/3 less cholesterol
    • 1/4 less saturated fat
    • 2/3 more vitamin A
    • Two times more omega-3 fatty acids
    • Three times more vitamin E
    • Seven times more beta carotene
Keeping chickens is surprisingly not that hard. I've been told that the amount of time spent each day to manage 2-3 hens is less than 10 minutes. All they need is a hen house, a safe place to forage (which you just let them out a couple times a day, like any other pet), clean bedding and feed them scraps from the kitchen. The benefit? Fresh, healthy, superb eggs. I can't wait!

If keeping chickens is not your thing, it's not hard to find someone else who does and might be willing to either share or sell their eggs. Adam's old co-worker kept friends on a rotation and would give away any excess eggs that her hens laid.  And they came in all sorts of colors! Peach, green, blue, brown .. very rarely the white that we're accustomed to. Farmer markets or co-ops are a great place to find local eggs too.
 
Honey - maybe?
The honey bee shortage is making its way into the news more and more.  Some blame pesticides, others the weather. Guesswork aside, honey is rising in prices and demand. Over the last several years, my family has been getting our honey from a local beekeeper. Just like fresh bread or eggs, once you try local honey, you'll never go back to the Honey Bear. Unfortunately, rumor has it that even our supplier isn't going to continue after this year. His bees aren't producing enough to make it worth it.  So.. a thought popped into my head. Why not keep our own bees?  Probably the most hare-brained scheme I've come up with in a while, but hey - the internet says it's easy to do too. I'm still a little hesitant about this, but who knows, maybe it will work out.

Will you join the challenge of bringing more food from the kitchen? In what ways would you change if time and money were no object?

And, for your viewing pleasure - Penny on her play mat.
video

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