Eating on Purpose

My attempt to eat less and pay more.

Archive for the ‘Why I Am the Way I Am’ Category

Let’s Just Lay Our Cards on the Table

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Lest anyone starts to think that,

1. I’m a health nut, or

2. I’m a hypocrite

I thought I should get something out in the open. None of this will come as a surprise to those who know me.


I love junk food. I drink a Coke Zero pretty much every day. I take the kids to McDonald’s once a week for lunch (and even if I didn’t have kids, I’d take myself there once a week). Occasionally, I send my husband to Dairy Queen to pick me up a Cappuccino Skor Blizzard. And if there is junk food (eg. chips) in the house, I will eat them. All of them.

I’ve been known to make something, oh, like the most amazing caramel corn in the world (of which none of the ingredients, by the way, are local), and polish it off, by myself, in 2 days. The first day I try to control myself, but by the second day, I give up, rationalizing that it’s better to just eat it all at once than to obsess all day about eating it.

So, I guess that makes me a hypocrite. But I’m OK with that.

It’s all about balance. If I think about giving up everything, and changing everything in our diet all at once, I feel completely overwhelmed and want to give up. If I can make small changes, one at a time, it feels much more manageable.

So, here are the things I’ve done so far. I try to:

  1. Not buy anything in boxes. This includes packaged cookies & cakes, prepared side dishes, and snacks for the kids.
  2. Buy foods that have been processed as little as possible. This means largely meats, fruits, veggies, grains, and local dairy.
  3. Use as little processed, pre-salted ingredients as possible in my cooking. This means I try not to use pre-made salad dressings, bottled marinades or seasoning mixes (except for Epicure).
  4. Cook food in a way that brings out the taste of the food, not cover it up (i.e. not frying it in tons of oil, or drowning it in creamy sauces).
  5. Not buy ready-made meals (I do keep these sauces on hand, made in Surrey, BC, which are delicious).
  6. Buy foods where I recognize all the ingredients as food.
  7. Buy local whenever possible, and at the very least, know where my food comes from.
  8. Buy meats that are raised ethically, and grass-fed.
  9. Avoid soy wherever possible. Partly because producers use it as fillers for more expensive, nutritious ingredients, and partly because of the possible dangers of it). Avoiding packaged foods pretty much takes care of this.

This is just a start. There are lots of ways I could be better at local, ethical eating. And hopefully in a few years I’ll have added more items to my list.

How do you try to eat healthier at home?

Written by hollyck1

August 12, 2010 at 1:02 am

Bandwagon

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I’m not a bandwagon type of person. If I’m thinking of getting involved with something new, I will usually keep it secret until I’ve: a) either being doing it for a while, or b) I’m absolutely 100% sure I will follow through on it.

I can hardly stand the thought of someone saying, ‘Ya, Holly is on another one of her kicks’.  I’m not sure why that bothers me so much, but it does.

Food Rules, by Michael Pollan

My philosophy is to start slow, incorporate one change at a time into my life, and then stick with it before adding another change. So, it’s no surprise that it’s taken me several years to get to the place I am now with food. And I know without a doubt that most of the changes I’ve made in our eating are permanent changes – There’s no going back once you know better.

As with most areas of my life, I turn to the written word for answers and guidance.

Books & Websites That Have Changed the Way I Think About Food

Food Rules, by Michael Pollan – I’ve known for a long time that I wanted my family to eat more healthily. But knowing you want something, and knowing how to do it are two very different things.

This book is 64 simple rules you can keep in mind when choosing foods.  Rules like:

  • Avoid food products that contain more than 5 ingredients
  • Avoid the middle aisles at the grocery store (sticking to the outsides of the supermarket will ensure you’re buying mostly whole foods, and avoiding processed foods)
  • Pay more, eat less (takes doing it to really understand this one, but so true!)

This is a fantastic book for helping you learn to distinguish real food from, as he puts it, ‘food-like substances’. While at first this terminology sounds extreme and over-the-top, the more I’ve thought about it, the more true it has become for me.

Sustainable Eats

I came across this website about a year ago. I first got to know Annette several years ago through her successful online store, Pollywog Baby.

18 months ago, Annette committed to feeding her family only local, seasonal, ethical food. She has chronicled her journey on her blog, which is an absolutely fascinating read.

Her Rules:

  • Finish eating what we have in the cupboards.
  • New purchases must meet the local, seasonal, organic, sustainably farmed criteria.

  • Meat must be pastured, grass fed, humanely treated while living and processing or hunted and local.

  • Fish must be wild and caught in a sustainable manner and as local as possible.

  • Eggs must be cage free, with an organic diet. Update – they now come from our backyard chickens!

  • Poultry must be pastured, fed an organic diet and local.

  • Milk and cream must come from local dairies (not dairy pools).

  • Honey must be organic or close as possible and local.

  • Fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains must be local and organic from sustainable farms.

  • Cheese must be local and from organic milk.

  • Anything not on this list must be made by me from the above ingredients or by local farmers or food artisans.

  • Coffee, chocolate, coconut oil and sugar are exempt but must be fair trade and shade grown (except sugar which must still be organic and fair trade.)

  • Any other purchases must be from US sources (i.e. olive oil from Napa, popcorn from Oregon) only once local sources have been exhausted.

When I first started reading about Annette’s experiment, her rules overwhelmed me. But as I go back and read the rules now, a year later, I realize I’ve been doing many of these things. And really, they’re not that hard, especially once they become habit.

In Defense of Food – Michael Pollan

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan

I love the subtitle and basic premise of this book:

Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

I think of this book as the longer version of Food Rules. While Food Rules is wonderful for giving you easy steps to follow, In Defense of Food really gives you an understanding of the principles behind the rules.

The book is completely inspiring – At first I assumed he was some kind of food hater, who wouldn’t be happy until we were all munching on carrot sticks and lettuce. Really, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Food is for us to enjoy, something we’ve gotten away from, whether we realize it or not. He inspires us to sit and savour our meals, with a nice glass of wine and good company.

From his website:

In Defense of Food shows us how, despite the daunting dietary landscape Americans confront in the modern supermarket, we can escape the Western diet and, by doing so, most of the chronic diseases that diet causes. We can relearn which foods are healthy, develop simple ways to moderate our appetites, and return eating to its proper context — out of the car and back to the table. Michael Pollan’s bracing and eloquent manifesto shows us how we can start making thoughtful food choices that will enrich our lives, enlarge our sense of what it means to be healthy, and bring pleasure back to eating.

The 100 Mile Diet – Alisa Smith & J.B. Mackinnon

This was perhaps the book that started it all for me. I read it mainly because I had heard good things about it, but also because we were living in Vancouver at the time, which is where the authors carried out their experiment.

For one year, the authors determined to only eat food found within a 100 mile radius of Vancouver, BC. I recall salivating while reading the recipes they used…it didn’t appear to me they were sacrificing taste by committing to local eating. Sure, they had to eat seasonally, be more creative, and put a lot of thought and time into finding good local food. But in the end, learning to really appreciate and savour their meals was truly inspiring.

Written by hollyck1

August 3, 2010 at 2:42 am

Why I Prefer to Eat Local

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I know it’s kind of hip to eat local food, and if anything, that’s almost enough reason for me to not want to do it.

Of course, I’m not immune to the influences of the crowd, or to food trends. For me, trying to eat locally is not about simply wanting to say I eat locally.

Organic Carrots

Did you know:

  • Most food Americans (and I assume Canadians as well) consume has traveled around 1500 miles to get to their plate. I strongly dislike the impact that has on the environment, but perhaps even more than that I wonder at how many of the nutrients in those foods have been lost along the way. OK, so I haven’t exactly given up bananas just because they can’t be grown in Canada. But when faced with the choice between apples from a far-off country and ones grown in my own town, what am I going to choose?
  • Buying food grown locally means supporting local farmers, which also means support our city’s economy. While this is important to me, I also think about the fact that the more we buy locally, the more local farmers and food producers will be encouraged and/or financially able to produce more/better local food. Win/win.
  • Local food tends to taste, well, more like food is supposed to taste. We used to buy those little baby carrots that come washed and peeled in a plastic bag. I will grant you that it is less time-consuming to cut open a bag of those babies, than to wash, peel and cut a regular carrot. But that is all I will grant you. I had to force feed those things to my kids, and I always felt a little guilty about it, since they taste a bit like crunchy cardboard. Since switching to fresh, organic carrots grown by our friends the Abrahams, my kids are more than happy to take them off my hands. And, I noticed when I offer one to guests, the first question is always, ‘WHERE did you get these carrots?  They taste like real carrots!’. Funny how after so long of eating imported grocery-store carrots we forget what real carrots taste like.

*Photo courtesy of color line

Written by hollyck1

August 3, 2010 at 2:34 am