Sunday, July 25, 2010

My Manifesto

If you pay attention to my "what I'm reading now" widget (I don't know if anyone does...) you may already know that I recently finished reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto.

This book is... amazing... brilliant... eye-opening... life changing... awesome.  I don't think I can say enough good things.  If you haven't read this yet read it!  NOW!  Although, I am going to warn you, it may make you want to move "off the grid" and never trust grocery store food again.  You have been warned. 

This wonderful, educational book, coupled with the horror documentary Food, Inc....

...and in addition to some of my own independent research has led to a change in thinking about food.  The food available to consumers to buy and the food that my family consumes. 

The conclusion that I have reached is we must "Vote with our food dollars" as Pollan says in his book and choose foods that are better for us.  I no longer find the general produce, poultry, and meats available in our local supermarket sufficient and I, the cheapest, err... thriftiest person around, am willing to pay more for a better product as that product is so important to the health of my family and especially my baby's - who is hurtling full steam ahead towards solids - delicate system and rapidly growing body.

Honestly, the aforementioned items are too important and in-depth to efficiently summarize here, but what it boils down to is the food industry is just that, industrialized.  We have eradicated small farming in favor of mega-farms which mass-produce cheaper, crappier products.  This has resulted in major economical, social, and health ramifications.  In our society cost is the bottom line, not quality.  And that is a scary thing when we're talking about the vitamins and nutrients that keep us alive and thriving. 

Now, I am a cheap person.  I'm always looking for a way to cut costs and do/get things for a cheaper price.  Why pay more when you don't have to? is pretty much my motto.  But there is a delicate balance between cost and quality.  It's not worth paying less for an item if it's severely lacking in quality.  And based on my reading, and watching, and researching we have been spending our money on far inferior products and I'm not willing to do it anymore.  Not only are the products inferior, but I'll go as far as saying that the products we have been ingesting may even be dangerous to our health.  I am not willing to compromise on the food that I put into my baby's body, so why should I compromise on what my husband or I am eating?  This is the question that has lead to a few changes around here as well as some changes I am planning to make in the near future. 

First, I am doing my best to make processed foods at home.  I already do a lot of cooking at home, but I am planning to start making all of our bread products.  I want to know what goes into our processed foods and have control over the ingredients.  It is possible to buy high-quality breads at the store, but they are fairly expensive (like 3-4 times more expensive than store brand whole-wheat sandwich bread that we usually buy) and this is a place where I have the ability to save some money and I enjoy making bread.  Win - win. 

Second, I am going to begin reducing/eliminating the use of some staples in my baking and cooking. 

     - White refined sugar will be replaced by sucanat, which is an organic whole cane sugar that is unrefined, naturally evaporated, and minimally processed in such a manner that it preserves all the vitamins and minerals.

     - White flour will be replaced by whole-wheat and spelt flours.  I usually bake with at least half white AP flour, half whole-wheat flour, but I'm going to try to cut back even further or completely eliminate the white flour.  In addition, I'm going to try some grain soaking techniques to make the grains easier for our bodies to digest and extract nutrients from.

     - Canola/Vegetable oils will be replaced with olive oil (for cooking) and coconut oil (for baking).  Canola and vegetable oils are not naturally occurring while olive and coconut oils are.  I already use olive oil for cooking, but coconut oil is new to me.

     - Margarine will be replaced by butter.  Margarine is essentially solid, colored, spreadable vegetable oil.  Butter is better for you and tastier.  I already use butter exclusively for baking I just need to use it for cooking and spreading.


     - I want to start purchasing organic produce according to the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15 breakdown.

     - I'm going to avoid all processed foods as well as anything with high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, or any derivative of such. 

     - I want to start purchasing local free range eggs and chicken and grass-fed beef.  This is likely something that will happen a little further down the road after we have already made some changes.

     - We are going to start eating locally as often as possible.  This is easy to accomplish in Ohio during the Late Spring/Summer/Early Fall as there are a plethora of farmer's markets all over the place.  There's nothing better than fresh, vine-ripened produce farmed with mindful techniques.  The taste puts imported grocery-store produce to shame and the prices are comparable since you are buying directly from the source.  Also, you have the benefit of being able to speak directly with the farmer who picked your produce for questions and tips, not to mention that produce was picked recently as in yesterday or a few days ago.  And the person selling you the product can answer this question because they were likely there when it happened.  To find farmer's markets in your area visit  Next year, I hope to talk Mark into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.

So, that's my plan for improving the health of my family through the food we consume.  Yes, these changes are going to cost more money, but in my opinion, that money will be well spent and that says a lot coming from me. 

Tomorrow, I'll share what I purchased on my first Farmer's Market excursion and what I made with my purchases!


  1. Sounds great, Stefi!

    I kind of wish we were still friends, because that's how Miles and I have started eating, and I am a cheap muthaeffer. With really good planning on Sunday nights plus some couponing, bulk meat buying from a local farm, and our CSA, we eat like kings for much less than what a lot of our friends spend.

    Good luck!

  2. Good for you guys! Funny how having a kid can change your perspective! We've been doing this too now for about a year and we feel so much better.

    I'll look into that cow because it's something I want to do before this winter.

    Also, coconut oil can be used for beauty as well. I mix it with some sugar and use it as a scrub for my face and put it on my feet and elbows too as a moisturizer. I use almond oil as well. I'm just as weird about what I put on my body as what I put into it.

  3. Just to warn, whole wheat flour in baking can make things much more dense when used alone. I made some choco chip cookies once, and didn't have the amount of white flour called for in the recipe, so I just used all wheat. It worked out, but I was worried when I was mixing because the dough was so much dryer.

    The cookies turned out yummy, though! I just need to look up more whole wheat recipes instead of trying to improvise on my own, I learned.

    I like the manifesto, chicky. Can't wait to hear how it goes!

  4. This post really spoke to me, since I'm coming to the same conclusions very recently. I'm starting with the fresh stuff but someday I'd like to move into the processed as well. Great post!


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