Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Our Real Food Journey

I realized as I was making dinner last night that it was around this time last year that I was introduced to the world of real food. That got me thinking about how I had never written down our story, so here I am to share with you how we got to where we are now. Of course, we have by no means "arrived", but we have made some radical changes over the past year and I think it would be prudent to share how we got here.

While I was pregnant, I was incredibly concerned about everything that was happening to me medically. I did countless hours of research on giving birth, newborn procedures and vaccinations. I had a detailed birth plan and was ready to fight anyone who dismissed my wishes. It never occurred to me to consider what I was feeding my pregnant body. To put everything into perspective, I should make note of the fact that mere hours before our son was born my husband and I stopped at McDonald's to get some french fries and Hy-Vee for some animal crackers. And I thought all of that was perfectly fine...

I stumbled across Stephanie's site, Keeper of The Home, soon after I gave birth to Julian. I can't even remember what I was looking for, but, whatever it was, the search led me to her site. I camped out there for a few days, poring over posts while nursing my baby. I was astonished by what I was learning. I had, like many people, thought I was eating and feeding my husband and I a healthy diet. I cooked all our meals at home (open a box of this, throw in a can of that) and thought that we were doing pretty well. Boy, was I ever wrong! At that point, my freezer was full of meals lovingly prepared by the ladies from our church, I still wasn't comfortable driving and my husband was back to work and school full time, so I couldn't start implementing the things that I was learning just yet. As soon as we worked through the meals in the freezer and I was finally driving again, we were getting ready to move, so I didn't want to start overhauling our food supply just to have to pack it all up in a few weeks. So, we ate through what was in our pantry and freezer over those next few weeks until we were down to a few cans of tomatoes and condiments in the refrigerator. We moved into our new apartment, got settled and I had a blank slate in the form of an essentially empty pantry, refrigerator and freezer. I was excited!

Although I was excited, I was still unsure of where to start. I had all the information, but how would it play out in real life at the grocery store? I called up a good friend of ours who I knew fed her family the way I wanted to start feeding mine and asked to go grocery shopping with her. That might seem unconventional and maybe even a little presumptuous, but I was eager to learn! I packed up my eight week old baby and off we went to learn how to shop for real food frugally. Looking back, I am certain we made quite a sight traipsing through the store with four kids aged four, three, one and eight weeks. I actually walked through one of the stores cradling my nursing baby in one arm while taking notes on what she was purchasing! I learned quite a bit on that trip and gained an incredible amount of confidence. I highly recommend to those of you who are starting out on this journey to find someone who has been doing it for a long time and tag along. You will be amazed at what you learn.

I came home and excitedly shared all the new things I had learned with my husband. Unfortunately, he was not on board with me right away. I wanted to quit buying cereal? We weren't going to eat frozen pizza anymore? His world was crashing down around him, or so he thought. I am happy to say that he has since warmed up to most of my crazy ideas, although there are definitely things that he misses (scotcheroos) and things that he simply won't eat (avocados). I am still learning and probably will be forever, am still buying some things that other real foodies would look down on (store bought yogurt, anyone?) and have yet to keep a sourdough baby alive for longer than a week, but am so pleased with the improvements changing the way we eat continues to make in our lives.

I am forever indebted to sites like Kitchen Stewardship and Passionate Homemaking for doing the hard work and allowing people like me to learn from your research. I have read several books that helped shape my thoughts on food and continue to follow and learn from dedicated bloggers like those I have mentioned already and others, such as Modern Alternative Mama. I hope that what I have learned and continue to learn can be an encouragement to others on their journey to better eating.

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