Monday, February 14, 2011

Thoughts about Money and Food

   I am still on a journey. A journey to get to where I'm going. Some people may read this blog and other blogs and think that we have it all together. Fact is, we are really on the road just like you are. We've just written about our experience so far. That's is our experience, epiphanies, memories, aha! moments, and advice we might have for others coming along behind us.

I know that the following post is long, but I didn't want to break it up into more posts. I hope you'll read it through and comment.

   Recently a friendly neighbor asked where we shop for food. Knowing our "special" diet, I think she wondered about the healthy food we try to eat and where to obtain the like. My answer was a long one, as it isn't one specific place. Rather it's a few places, depending on where I may be or what I need. To say that, seems logical, however we do not shop at only "health food" type places or only farmer's markets.

   As I've stated on the blog before, we do consider the cost and live on less than we make. Eating on a budget seems to be all the buzz lately as people claim the economy has changed their financial outlook.

   I've written about some specific people who have had impact for me in this particular area. These things have really shaped how we go about our journey. One thing that I have realized is that there is not one single solution for everyone. No magic bullet.

   I have come up with what works for me at this time. It may change, and, by the way, it has many times over and over....I think they call it growing, progressing, and generally moving towards a goal.

   Years ago, I thought that if I just cut out certain things that I would be finally eating right. For example: no bleached white flour, no white rice, no white sugar, no white hydrogenated shortening, no white table salt. I substituted those with unbleached flour, brown rice, turbinado ("raw") sugar, butter (in my non-vegan days), and sea salt. And in my pre-vegetarian days: no pork products, no non-fish seafood, no lard, or not use lots of red meat or dairy. Instead I would eat more chicken and fish, and cut down on red meat and use "better" forms of dairy.

   All these are a good step forward I may agree, however it may seem to some people that if it stops there, they are set for life. There is so much more to life than what we eat. To say that may make you think that what we eat is not important. That couldn't be further from the truth. What we eat makes our body into what it is.
   If you eat "nutritionally poor" food, you will have a body that has to figure out how to come up with the building blocks for your muscles, bones, blood, organs, glands, arteries, veins, and so on. If you eat "nutritionally dense" foods (have a high percentage of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and other nutrients), then your body will have what it needs to renew your body's building blocks like it should.

   To eat what you want with no regard for nutrition and then take a few supplements to cover your bases isn't what I mean either. That approach does nothing to help you or your pocketbook. Our "SAD" ("Standard American Diet") food is not helping.

   Have you noticed prominent fast food restaurants have been introducing more and more "healthy" foods to their menus lately. In an effort to save their reputation for inadequate nutrition (and maybe more so to cater to those that simply choose not to eat their food, so they still make money) they have changed things. I am always glad for more choices. Glad that I can still choose to eat at home, thank you.

   I enjoy good food. I don't know anyone that doesn't. It is true that you need food to live, but one must not live to eat. There's a saying that if something tastes so good, you say "it is to die for". In health food circles, they may say instead, "it is to live for". The difference being, of course, that the food can taste good and be good for you.
   To go back to my list of foods (above) I should do without, I now think about many things when I consider what to buy. I may choose whole (sometimes sprouted) grains, fresh & dried fruits and raw honey to sweeten, use avocados, nuts and seeds to get my fats, and use herbs and spices to flavor my food. In the animal products department, we have decided to go "whole hog"  =) and cut it out altogether. And you know what? I don't miss it. I find that we eat many more vegetables than we used to and more whole fruits and I've introduced more nuts and seeds than we ate before. And I can't go further without mentioning that raw foods have become really prominent in our diet. When we do have cooked foods, I try to make sure that they are still full of nutrition and things I and my family need to build good healthy bodies.

   My taste buds have changed. My "pinch your pennies" attitude about things doesn't always apply to food anymore. I can still buy dried beans from a discount store and know it's helping to save money and buy nutrition at the same time. I may look for organic whole grain pasta and organic dried fruit. It's amazing when you look, what you find in any store that can help you save money and still get the nutrients you need. But remember that apple may seem expensive compared to the candy bar, but we all know which one is the better buy nutritionally.

   I just made a raw birthday cake for my husband that I know he'll love and I had a lovely little four year old help me. This was also the cake she requested for her fourth birthday last year. And we call it raw cake. Imagine that.

   There are so many things you can do "one better" than you did before. Keep moving on the journey and you'll never get tired of the many ways to eat better and enjoy it. I have learned so much about food, but I haven't "arrived" by any stretch of the imagination. What I've learned has worked for me. I'm glad to share it with you.

   When it comes to saving money on food expenses, please don't shortchange your family's health. Save in other areas so that you can afford the apple instead of the candy bar. Start a garden, or like we are planning, garden where you can (thanks, Katie!). You may find more "gold" than you planned when you dig into that dirt.

   I write mostly to give you food for thought so that you never stop learning. Learn something new everyday. You won't be disappointed.