Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Changing The Way We Eat

Changing the way we eat can seem really daunting at first. Especially if you're like me and need to be mindful of costs. It just wouldn't be possible to suddenly switch to all-organic, all-local food overnight; the household budget would implode.

I've always liked the quote by Theodore Roosevelt, "Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."

Figure out what you can be doing right now, and start doing it. You'll make incremental changes, but eventually it'll all add up to a complete change in lifestyle and eating. And as you gain new skills and knowledge, you'll find that switching the way you eat doesn't have to be expensive. It's only expensive when you remain dependent on others (thinking, for example, that you have to buy everything at Whole Foods). I've been making incremental changes for several years and I've discovered that healthy food isn't actually expensive. But I've taken responsibility for a lot of things that most people leave to others.

I bake bread. All of it. Bread, bagels, tortillas, muffins, rolls, cookies, pastries. Everything. Did that happen overnight? No, absolutely not. If one day I had been purchasing everything, and the next day I was cut off from that and suddenly had to make it all myself, I would have been totally overwhelmed. But I changed my habits gradually. I've always baked our sweets: cookies, muffins, pies and brownies, from scratch. So, that was one step. And I had occasionally baked bread. There was another step. Eventually I was baking most of our bread, but not things like tortillas and bagels. Here and there I would gather recipes for different types of bread products and try them out. I hit on an awesome bagel recipe online and started making that a lot. I tried some tortilla recipes and gave up for awhile because I didn't like any of them. When the name-brand tortillas we usually bought changed their recipe and the resulting tortillas took on a plastic consistency, that was the last straw. I went back online and found a really good flour tortilla recipe. No more store-bought plastic for us. And the last straw that got me to shift from baking most of our bread to all of it was a slice of store-bought white bread that simply refused to grow mold. If there wasn't enough nutrition in that thing to feed the moldies, I figured it wasn't even food at all. Why waste the energy sending that kind of junk through our systems? It couldn't be contributing anything to our health, and might even be detracting from it.

Bread is just one example of an area where we can make incremental changes and have it all add up to significant change. I'll get to some other good starting points in my next posts.

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