I was never interested in food or cooking growing up. I didn’t like to cook, didn’t especially like to eat, and never thought much about either. (I even remember being a teenager and commenting that I looked forward to the day when we could gain all our nutrition from a pill, saving so much time and effort).
I began to pay more attention to food when I became a mother and found myself in charge of feeding a small new person. I read “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver, and it completely changed the way I thought about food. I began reading more about food, and caring where it came from and what it had in it.
Sadly, all of this new knowledge did not turn into culinary prowess. I still consider myself a beginner in the kitchen, although I am making progress. I immediately dismiss most new recipes because they’re too complicated for my skill level. The good news is that fresh food can be prepared simply, with great results.
Learning about food and making changes to your diet can be really overwhelming. I tried to simplify the process by adopting two of Michael Pollan’s food rules:
1) Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
2) Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce
In Molly Wizenburg’s book, “A Homemade Life”, she tells how her father regularly said that they ate better at home than most people did in restaurants. That’s what I want for my family—for us to eat really well, and to enjoy eating; to learn moderation, so we can savor food without guilt.
When it comes to food, I want it all—I want to grow my own food, or I want to eat local organic food, I want it to fit into my budget, and I want it to be delicious, fast, and easy to fix. That’s not asking too much, right? My family strives to eat whole, unprocessed foods, but we don’t get our food from any one place. We do garden and grow some of our own food, but I also shop at big box stores, grocery stores, membership warehouses, farmers markets, and pick up food deliveries from distant co-ops.
To further complicate things, our extended families eat differently than we do, and that’s okay–I don’t lose any sleep over what happens at Grandma’s house. Sometimes we go through the drive through, and once in awhile my kids buy their lunch at school. It’s a constant shifting balance of time, money, priorities, and doing the best we can.
Yes, local food grown without chemicals lays the closest to my heart (and stomach), but that’s not what’s always on my table. Sometimes it’s organic food that has been driven here from far away, and sometimes it’s conventionally grown food from who-knows-where. And once in awhile it’s frozen pizza. I can stress and worry about things that aren’t perfect, or I can keep working toward good choices, and sit down and enjoy my food. Won’t you join me?