Food

Let’s talk about food shall we?  No, this isn’t an opportunity for a pregnant woman to talk about crazy food cravings.  It’s more of a rambling rant.  And an opportunity to ponder and toss out some questions.

Ready?

I go to the grocery store once a week.  I do this on purpose for a few reasons:  1.  It’s summer and when I go I get to take two little “helpers” with me.  2.  I harbor a secret love/hate relationship with the grocery store.  3.  During the summer I’m able to hit up fruit stands and the farmers market for fresh produce throughout the week.  4.  Between our pantry (the “magic” room in our house where all good things come from) and the extra fridge in the garage we are well stocked for any event that may pop up.

Back to the store.  When I’m there I’ll admit I’m always interested in what other people are buying.  Is this weird?  Maybe, but I find it fascinating to peak into other carts to see what others are eating at home.

To be honest I’m shocked by the numerous carts that are filled to the brim with things that aren’t really food.  We’re talking packaged foods – frozen pizzas, frozen dinners, chips, crackers, cookies, and all of the hideous processed “food” that is marketed toward kids.  Now don’t get me wrong – we most certainly have boxes of mac and cheese in the pantry (Annie’s is our fave), some Cheddar bunnies, and some garden-burgers in the freezer for a quick last-minute dinner, but those are things we eat on occasion.  And we love sweets – but our cookies and treats are homemade without any of the preservatives and other processed ingredients.

I take the responsibility of feeding my family seriously.  It’s OK – you can tease me – plenty do – but I’m not deterred.  When I cook I don’t prepare special “kids” meals.  Our kids eat what we do.  Henry actually requests salmon for dinner.  Charlie devours raspberries.  Yes, they each have a few foods that they turn their noses up to (don’t we all?)  But Alex and I would never ask our kids to eat anything we wouldn’t eat ourselves.  Because they are watching – talk about mixed signals – I wouldn’t expect my kid to love fruits and veggies if he never saw me eating them.  And I’ve always eaten a wide variety of foods (even when pregnant – I love spicy Thai food), and breastfed each boy for at least a year.  Maybe that helped to contribute to their accepting and open pallets.

And I’m not even going to try and tackle the whole “natural” or organic food discussion.  Yes, I tend to purchase most of our foods in the “natural foods” section of the store, but I’m not obsessive about it.  Really.  Sure, I add some unusual ingredients to our foods.  You’ll find ground flax seed, flax seed oil, and pro-biotic capsules in our fridge.  There is ground oat bran alongside the flour for baking.  And next to our multivitamins is a bottle of omega-3’s.  I always avoid trans fats, partially hydrogenated oils, and high fructose corn syrup, but that isn’t too hard when limiting your processed food purchases.  Most of the fresh local produce that we are buying right now isn’t organic and I’m OK with that.  If I do have a choice I’ll choose it, but I’m always going to choose fresh local produce over some random organic fruit shipped in from New Zealand.  Duh.

Interesting fact – my kids are rarely sick – and nothing ever more serious than a bad cold.  (I do realize that I’m tempting fate by putting this one out there in the open.)  Henry has never thrown-up and has only visited the doctor once for illness beyond a scheduled well-child check.  Neither of my children have ever had ear infections.  (And we were told that Charlie was not only prone to ear infections, but that we should expect a revolving door of infected ears.)  Is this dumb luck on our part?  Good genes?  Maybe.  I’m sure that has something to do with it.  But I’m pretty certain our healthy eating habits play a huge role in the overall health of our family.  (Along with our need for sleep – I’m crazy about protecting nap times, and make sure that the boys are to bed early – 7 or 7:30 p.m.  Even Alex and I insist on at least eight hours of sleep every night.)

There are also many social and cultural attitudes to consider when talking about food – buying, preparing and eating.  We eat together as a family.  No TV.  We let the phone ring.  We talk, laugh and enjoy our meals together.  In the morning it’s typically Alex and Henry saddled up to the breakfast bar first, with Charlie and I eating together after they are done.  The boys and I eat lunch at home together 99% of the time.  Every evening we sit down together as a family for dinner and when our new baby arrives he will join us at the center of the table in his bouncy seat.  And we love dinner guests – there is nothing better than sharing food with friends and family.

But again, I digress – let’s get back to the grocery store.  I only hit a handful of aisles in the store – mainly the produce section, the natural foods section (for diary products, frozen fruit if needed, bulk foods, pastas, eggs, etc.), and on occasion the meat counter.  (We aren’t vegetarians, but I find that I only prepare meals with meat/fish only a couple of times a week.)

And no, it’s not more expensive to eat un-processed food – quite the opposite really.  My groceries are always way less than the person in front of me who is stocking up on soda, processed and packaged foods.  (And yes, this is a Libby “theory” but I’m guessing we also pay way less in medical bills than the person with the cart in front of me.)

Here’s a list of the typical items I purchase on a weekly basis for about $65-$75:

bananas

blueberries

strawberries

raspberries

lettuce/green onion

yellow onion

bell peppers

avocado

couscous

honey ham (nitrate free)

ice cream

peanut butter (if we are out)

butter

3 half gallons of organic fat-free milk

3 half gallons of organic whole milk

And every other week I stop at Costco for around $100 – $125:

orange juice

a brick of cheese

prosciutto

salami

eggs (an 18 pack of omega-3 enriched eggs)

fresh chicken breasts

frozen wild Alaskan salmon fillets

granola

grape juice

raw almonds

craisins and/or raisins

two loaves of bread for sandwiches

Kettle chips (my weakness during this pregnancy)

And right now I’m hitting up all of our local fruit stands for fresh fruits and veggies.  We can’t get enough fresh cherries, peaches, zucchini, green beans, corn, blueberries, raspberries, etc.

The point of this rant isn’t to pat myself on the back or to point fingers.  Yes, I realize that it is a luxury to stay home with my kids.  Sure, it gives me more time to try out elaborate recipes, but day to day our food is simple.  And don’t think for a minute that there aren’t days when I’m sick of cooking and bring home a take and bake pizza or ask Alex to stop at the Thai restaurant on his way home.  Those days most certainly exist and I enjoy every bite.

I also suppose I’m fortunate to have a healthy relationship with food.  I realize that many don’t.  I’m thankful for the blessing of good health (and my family’s) and want to protect that.  I realize that our grocery list isn’t a guarantee for good health, but I do know that it stacks the deck in our favor.  I also believe that by eating well I’m respecting the body I was given and choose to treat it with the same care as my Maker.  Why would I abuse such a gift?  And as the person who brings food into our house and prepares it I take that responsibility seriously – especially when it comes to feeding my kids.

Over time food has become a subject that I really feel passionate about (and could write about for days…)  But for today, I suppose my goal is to start asking some questions.  Do our family’s eating habits deviate from the norm?  (Heck – maybe it’s just our grocery store.)  Why does our culture try to “dumb down” food for kids?  Am I the only one that has thoughts along this line?  I’m curious.

{And no, the irony was not lost on me that after posting this, I went to go get Charlie from his nap and found him happily eating the paint off of his crib rail.  Seems I need to find something else for my obviously teething child to chew on…}

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8 thoughts on “Food

  1. I really enjoyed this post. I have felt extremely convicted lately for how relaxed I’ve let my standards with food become. I’m so protective of what people feed my 15-month old, but I’ve gotten lazy with my older kids and my husband and myself. I’m not planning meals well or grocery shopping effectively. Thanks for the encouragement! Your family likes the same foods we do. And I’m always shocked at the junk other people are buying, and how much they’re spending!

  2. I’m completely obsessed with this topic. I highly recommend reading The China Study and I’m out to watch the movie Food, Inc asap!!! I do not skimp or save money when it comes to food. I feel like this is one of the only things I have control over with my family and I want to make wise choices. My grocery list looks a lot the same minus the meat and milk. We have gone mostly dairy free and replaced it with almond, rice and some soy milk in place of where milk would have been used. As a result, my kids crave water…good ol’ ice water and then eat a whole heck of a lot of whole foods…veggies, fruits, grains. I don’t mind spending money on 100% pure maple syrup and buying packaged products with five ingredients or less. My kids love green smoothies and will eat “nori” like it’s goldfish crackers. I love it all! Thanks for a great post idea!!!

  3. Love this post Libby! It made me cringe watching people get excited over the frozen meals that were on sale last week. They could be feeding their families so much better! Have you read “Feeding the Whole Family” by Cynthia Lair? Great book. I miss the pluthra of fruit stands in Yakima – you are so lucky!

  4. Great post. Now, I would love to see a weekly menu of how you use those groceries to make dinners. I’ve never been one to buy boxed or packaged meals, but I struggle to ‘use what I’ve got and have a weakness for running out for a few ingredients when I could probably just improvise and save myself a bit of money each month.

  5. Yes. As you know, we are on the same page here. Great post again. I also love the sharing of cookbooks, so I thought I would throw a couple in the ring:
    “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites”(my all-time favorite!!)
    “Feeding the Whole Family” (a repeat, I know, but worth it)
    “Chinese Nutritional Therapy” (a resource of TCM nutrition basics through healing)
    “The China Study” (again, a repeat, but great!)
    Any Jamie Oliver cookbook for wonderful, simple recipes that combine fresh, whole foods for amazing flavor!

    I think that your thoughts about sleep are soooo important to stress as well. We are all so busy with our lives that it is easy to let naps and bedtimes slip, and then, like clockwork, comes an illness (at least in my experience). Even with the best nourishment.

    Thanks, Libby, for your insight and sharing what you do. It is so great to think again about the subject which is so important but so easily overlooked.

  6. Libby,
    I just started reading your blog…we have a nine year old son with DS (and he has 3 younger siblings). Great times!! :) I love this post about food…couldn’t agree more! Healthy food & sleep habits=healthy family. Thanks for sharing your daily experiences & insights. It is nice to read about another family sharing similar life experiences.
    Best,
    Jill

  7. Are those frozen wild salmon filets in a packaged box with a name brand that starts with an M? Or are they just actual plain frozen wild salmon in the seafood section wrapped in plastic? (I would prefer the latter.) I just went to Costco twice recently looking for the frozen salmon. I didn’t see anything in the seafood section, but on my way out I saw someone with a boxed version in their carts. I think the brand started with the letter “M” Just curious.

  8. Libby. . .
    Great post! Our family shares your healthy and natural eating habits and benefit from the same healthy life as you! Our boys are RARELY EVER sick (except for slight colds) and my husband hasn’t taken a sick day in years. I even go as far as making our own ranch dressing and ice cream so I can control the ingredients! I leave a tray of veggies or begdables as our youngest calls them, out on the kitchen cupboard during the day for the boys (and myself) to snack on! They love it! They pick berries over candy given the choice! We don’t buy soda pop but drink iced tea, water, milk, the occasional orange juice and sometimes lemonade for a treat! Oh. . .and coffee. . .I have to have my coffee! I don’t even walk down the frozen pizza aisle at the grocery store! Too much processed garbage! My hubs and I have been talking about joining a wholesale club again (used to belong to Sams Club). We have been kicking around the Costco idea. . .do you like it there? We have a Sams Club and a Costco within equal distances from the house. Have you ever belonged to Sams Club? What do you think?

    Be Blessed,
    Amy

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