Brace yourself -- I feel a rant coming on.
I love food. (A little too much.)
Slap a bag of lime-flavored Tostitos my way, and I'm in heaven. Crunchy pretzels. Sourdough bread. A slice of Rocky Ford melon. (You may not know it in the rest of the country, but Rocky Ford grows the best cantaloupe in the world. And that's coming from a Michigan girl who grew up on wonderful apples, peaches, cherries and such.)
The Brick, on the other hand, goes for the sweet stuff: cookies, candy bars, cake. "Pogeybait," his dad called it.
We're careful about our food. We have a garden. (No pesticides, just soap and good old manure.) Chickens. (Who won't produce for a few weeks yet. C'mon, chickies -- think eggs!)
Inspired in part by Frugal Upstate's menu plans, we eat at least one vegetarian and one fish meal a week...two, if I can sneak an extra vegetarian one in. I bake some of our bread, cookies and nearly all of our cakes. Nearly all the entrees are from scratch: stir-fries, soups and stews predominate.
We eat a lot of dairy -- milk (great for calcium), yogurt (tummy troubles) and cheese. I water the milk down to make it go even further -- 4 cups of water in a gallon of whole milk, and you've got 'skim' without even realizing it.
We love meat. When possible, I'll buy a pig or cow from ranching friends, and have it butchered. The Brick hunts, so venison, elk, antelope join the menu. Fish and chicken make regular appearances. These are usually coupled with a lot of vegetables, and some carbs.
Our food budget stays pretty consistently at $25-35/week. Not great for two people, but not bad. Certainly much less than many people spend.
I don't buy 'organic' unless it's on sale and/or close to 'regular' prices.
That last statement alone is enough to condemn my food choices.
There is a strong contingent in my church -- otherwise a warm and friendly place -- that loves to focus on 'healthy' food -- 'healthy,' that is, if it follows their strict rules. These women (and I really love them dearly, they're gentle and kind otherwise) often have young children who are raised on the same strict basis. Their income is limited -- but that doesn't stop them from wildly overspending on 'natural' (i.e., purchased in the health foods store -- not from a garden or farmer's market) and 'healthy' (because a corporation told them it was so) items. Even if they can't pay their bills elsewhere, this is excused, because their families' health is so important.
Allergies are often brought into this subject -- but if I ask specifically about who is allergic to what, the response is often in vague terms -- or focused on one child, when there are several in the family. I get the feeling, in many cases, that in spite of the emphasis on allergies -- there are none!
We've known many of these families for years...some of them for decades.
Are they healthier than we are?
Financially more stable?
Are their children appreciably healthier/smarter/better-balanced than the average kid?
Do they have a set of iron-clad rules that must be followed, whether they can afford it or not?
Do they sometimes keep their kids from making lasting friendships, because they're afraid their children will eat something 'bad' at the other family's house?
Do they hold back from celebrations, for the same reason,.or insist that people bring food that adheres to their specifications...or they won't come?
Could it be possible that some of those 'miracle' foods have otherwise-healthy things sneaked into them? (Processing is processing, after all.)
Is it possible that big corporations who own some of these 'health-based' companies really have their own profit in mind...rather than ours?
And finally -- can their faith, not to mention their focus on what's really important, be affected by all this?
I see the same strong emphasis, with moral lines being drawn, by many bloggers on the Internet circuit, especially places like Blogher. (One of my favorite bloggers, Money Saving Mom, bless her heart, too often focuses on this, even though her other emphasis is frugal living.)
As one columnist pointed out recently, food choices should not be a moral issue. There are many other things to deal with right now: health care, finances, helping yourself and your family to be happy, contented, sane and productive people.
Food shouldn't shove all that aside.
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