Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Food Evolution: Our Journey to Organic

I cringe when I think about what I used to eat. Seriously, back in the day, dinner was a microwaved Lean Cuisine spaghetti and meatballs, a frozen Pillsbury biscuit heated up in the toaster oven, and finished off with a container of Weight Watchers ice cream. Breakfast and lunch were no better: everything was "diet food," and "healthy for me," and I was well within my calories for the day, but I wasn't achieving any of my goals. I was sluggish, soft, and wondering why the heck I felt that way when I was eating healthy and playing the numbers. I was stumped.

Eventually, when I was trying to lose the 75 lbs I gained in my first pregnancy, I got sick of reading package labels and deciphering the code language used to promote the health benefits of food. In frustration, I started eating fruits, veggies, and lean meat out of defiance. But as the weight easily came off I realized that I didn't need that diet food. Then, when my baby was ready to eat solid food, I made the transition to ditching processed food altogether. I didn't need it, and my baby certainly didn't either. We decided to not junk up our kid with processed food, and became clean eaters. Over time, my body has rewarded me with sculpted muscles, increased energy, and athletic ability I never dreamed I would have, all thanks to better nutrition.

Now, my second baby is here, and he just started eating solid food. In the same way that our first propelled us into clean eating, our second little body to nourish is pushing us closer to the edge of going organic. Over the past six years I have gotten a big education in how food works. As I read more about GMOs, pesticides, food manufacturing, and especially the politics that goes into food production and marketing, I am becoming more convinced that we need to be an organic family. So, for the three short weeks that my little baby has been eating solid food, it's been organic. I hope to keep it that way, and that by the end of the year we will all be eating organic.

But organic produce is way expensive! So, over the next seven months I will gradually begin to replace non-organic foods with organic, with the goal of eating almost exclusively organic by December 31. I can't realistically plan to go 100% because, after all, I do eat in restaurants occasionally, go to parties, and you know I love my Papa John's. So, 99% will be good enough for me. I plugged the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists into my phone so I am ready to start making the switch with this week's trip to the grocery.

Here's why organic is a priority for me and should be to you:

1. It's just plain healthier. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides, and "Frankenfood"(AKA processed food with chemical ingredients) are obviously not natural and shouldn't be eaten. Period.

2. It's better for the environment. I've never been a big environmental person but the more I read, the more I become aware of the effects of food production on our soil, air, and water. It really does trickle down to someone, and I need to be more considerate of that.

3. It's better for humanity. I hope that, as more people choose organic, the demand will increase. Food producers will strive to meet that demand by making more organic food, which will increase competition. Increased competition should decrease the price. And then, more people can afford organic. If more people can afford it, more people will eat it, and the health of our population will be better.


In my perfect world.

I don't know if that is realistic or not, but I'm gonna try. Starting this week!

Get out there and get healthy, even if it's just one switch on your grocery list.


Sarah @ Semi-Sweet said...

It is truly amazing how good you feel when you're putting real food into your body, isn't it? I'm to the point where I feel "polluted" after a two-week summer vacation . . . lots of eating out + convenience food = unhappy belly and lower energy. We're not 100% organic, but we're probably 80% . . . and I love food and restaurants WAY too much to give those up. So I follow an 80/20 rule most of the time. 80% clean, whole & healthy, and 20% for treats. Because I love pizza too!!

Ellen said...

I, too, try to pick and choose what to eat that should be organic. Anything that I eat daily, I try to buy organic (yogurt, granola, olive oil), and try to buy as many organic veggies and fruits as I can. I LOVE my local green market where there are several vendors with organic produce.

Restaurants are still a welcome indulgence. Luckily more and more of them are adopting the "farm-to-table" concept; so while it might not be organic, at least it's local. :-)