Getting back to basics, take charge of your food!
I can remember growing up and eating some of the weirdest things that I would never eat now. Things like “cheese food” products, that now look like a block of yellowish-orange plastic. Or some of the other things that were suppose to be okay for you at the time. The problem of course, is that we have gotten a bit smarter in asking and demanding to know what manufactures are putting in our food, where it comes from and it what it says on the label the truth. Where our food comes from, how it is made matters! And it should.
My concern however, is that we are still letting factories manufacture foods for us. When I say that, I am talking about things like diet foods that are full of cellulose (you know the stuff sponges are made from) or the fake meat burgers, chicken and sausages that may help in the fight against factory farming or our greenhouse gases, but there are still going to be wastes, they are manufactured in a factory. So what how can we just get back to the way that we use to eat; the ways in which those before us, parents, grandparents, or great, great grandparents ate?
- We need to know where our food is coming from. I get that there is a huge want for food transparency. And I know that manufactures are getting better about it, but what about meat for example. For those of us that do eat meat, are we sourcing it from someplace that is local? Are we looking for ways to verify that those animals had the best possible life including humane treatment, no antibiotics or growth hormones; that they weren’t factory farmed or forced to reproduce at an insane rate, or shoved into a cage. Did they have a good life? There are places out there that are like that. If you don’t eat meat, that is completely fine, but if you do, source it from someplace that is reputable. Make sure that you are sourcing it from someplace that had the animals welfare in mind and made it a priority.
- Learn to grow your own food. I know that it’s not possible for everyone to be able to grow their own food. Many people live in urban areas where they might not ever have so much as a small balcony. But grow what you can. There are a number of hydroponic systems that are designed to grow a number of veggies and herbs and even strawberries inside. These systems vary in size, and can even be made to accent your sense of style and décor.
- Shop local, especially at places like farmers markets. Shopping has a huge impact on many different things. It can make a difference on sustainability, greenhouse gases, and your own local economy. If you can buy locally and in season it’s a win, win. Many times when you are near the end of a growing season, you can make a deal with the local farmer to take the remainder of something off his hands for a better price. It helps to cut down on food wastes. You can get a great deal and the farmer doesn’t have to throw out all of that food.
- Learn how to cook your own food. Cooking use to be one of those things that people learned to do. Sadly, we have gotten use to the instant gratification of throwing something from a box into the microwave and nuking it for a few minutes. We have settled for subpar food that is full of additives, preservatives and all kinds of things that we can’t pronounce. If we can learn some basic cooking skills than you can create some amazing and great tasting food. There are a number of cooking classes, YouTube content creators and food blogs that are fantastic at teaching you how to cook. And the best part, there are a lot of different dishes that you can make in less than thirty minutes.
- Learn how to preserve foods, can, ferment, pickle. You know how I mentioned growing your own food, or buying from a farmers market? If you got a great deal on produce, why not learn to preserve your bounty? Fermentation and canning a two fantastic ways to make sure that all that money you spent on food doesn’t go to waste. Canning will extend the shelf life of foods for a long amount of time. And it’s really not all that difficult to do. You can do it in large or small batches and you will know exactly what’s in it. You are in control of what is in your food! The second part to that is that we all know how great fermented foods are for us. So, why not learn to make your own. You can make everything from your own yogurt in an Instapot, to your own batch of sauerkraut or kimchi. You really don’t need a bunch of specialty equipment and it’s simple to do. And if you find that you really like fermentation, you can even go as far as I did to make your own beer and wine! You will definitely need some specialty equipment for this, but it is awesome to make your own!
- Make your own bread. Over this last year, I have seen so many bread videos and blog posts about making your own bread. Most of them were aimed at sourdough specifically! Making bread is easy, and the only special thing you really need is a good old cast iron Dutch oven. It doesn’t have to be a four hundred dollar Le Cruset. It just has to be something that can withstand five hundred degrees and has a good fitting lid with out any plastic for the handle. Bread making is simple. You don’t have to know how to knead the dough, many recipes are no knead recipes. You can also use a stand mixer if you have one that will usually have a bread hook. Bread make is four simple ingredients, flour, water, salt, yeast. Try it out. Trust me when I say that there is nothing like fresh bread. It’s tastes better and it’s healthier. Not to mention, it’s a lot cheaper to make your own bread then it is to buy it.
I know that a lot of these things that I’ve mentioned seem as if they might be time consuming and some of them are. But the truth is that things like fermenting and making your own bread have huge amount of hands off time. So give them a try. It’s healthier, you can save a good amount of money, and you are gaining a skill that you can pass on. Knowledge is power even in the kitchen!