Someone asked me the other day how my project is going and whether or not I will continue to eat this way. At first I thought this was a very odd question. My first thought was, eating what way? And my second thought was, why wouldn’t I? Over the past month, however, it has dawned on me how odd some people find it that we don’t eat processed foods. So many of us sit on opposite sides of the Hamburger Helper aisle, though we really aren’t so far apart. I guess that’s the point of this blog, though, isn’t it?
It also occurred to me that this started as an experiment of sorts, which implies that at some point I should reach a conclusion. Instead, I have found that it’s been a series of experiments and adventures with a series of conclusions and revisions. This is an evolving work in progress–I’m not done yet nor do I see an end in sight. However, I have found answers to some of my initial questions.
- Can I sustain my family solely on local produce?
Short answer, no.
Long answer: I’m sure it can be done, and I look forward to coming closer to that as a
long-term goal. But for the athletic needs of my family, we need more protein than what we can find at the farmer’s market. We have supplemented with beans and grains, which we have not as of yet been able to find locally. Also, as winter crept in it became increasingly difficult to buy local produce. We hope to be better at it next year!
- Will my family benefit from a totally vegetarian lifestyle?
Short answer, no.
Long answer: While we are still largely (95%) meat-free, we haven’t felt much of a difference in our life without meat. If anything, we have recently begun to notice that our diet has not been well-suited to promote recovery from our workouts. We are slowly incorporating small amounts of chicken into our diets, though we fully intend to maintain an emphasis on local produce and whole grains. We are slowly using up the chicken in our freezer, and have taken steps to buy it locally through a CSA.
- Can I live without coffee and other forms of caffeine?
Short answer, yes.
However, the question I should have asked is whether or not there is any practical reason to. After six weeks, I did not feel any different without coffee. I think of coffee as a warm cup of comfort, and I genuinely just like it. In its absence, I did not notice any difference in my endurance, nor did my sleep pattern change much if any. So while it was nice to know that I could break the habit, I simply could not find any good reason to continue living without it. So I’m now enjoying my two cups a day.
- Can I sustain my family without store-bought baked goods?
I have had no difficulty taking the time every Sunday to bake bread for the week. In
addition, I have found that it is extremely easy to whip up a focaccia, Hawaiian rolls, or French loaf as needed. Once I got over the initial fear that it would be too difficult, I started to gain confidence. Now I can bake several different breads, rolls, and biscuits totally from memory without looking at the recipe. I will not be giving up my homemade bread!
- Is the processed, store-bought version of anything actually worth buying?
Short answer: Not really.
…But…There is one thing that I will admit is much more convenient in the store-bought version: minced garlic. I admit it. A spoonful of minced garlic from the little glass jar is so much freaking easier than peeling and chopping those little stinky garlic cloves.
Otherwise, most “convenience” foods aren’t really that much more convenient, in my opinion. Sauces, pastas, breads, grains, and beans are all things I’d rather make from scratch.
Today’s recipe is an adaptation of cherries jubilee using cranberries. Yum!
2 cups fresh cranberries
½ cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
juice of one orange
orange zest (optional but highly recommended!)
1/2 cup water
Bring water and orange juice to a boil. Stir in sugar to dissolve; add cinnamon, orange zest, and cranberries. Return to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about a half hour or until cranberries are soft but most still maintain their shape. Cool slightly and serve warm over vanilla ice cream.