Friday, January 27, 2012

Switch to Real Food: Less Pain, More Gain

One of my friends wants to transition to real food. At the supermarket, she just came hard up against reality. She's feeding a family on a budget. There are some choices to make. Some of them are painful.

Where does she begin?

I want to hug her. I want to smack her. SNAP OUT OF IT.

Eating fresh, natural, organic, clean, ethical, fair, sustainable and local is not an overnight job for most of us. We're going to meet the limits of our knowledge and the fixity of our comfort zone every day.

1. What sources are available?

2. Which vendors can I trust?

3. But I like the haricots vert from Mexico (even when I know they're loaded with pesticides.)

4. But I don't like the endless season of brussels sprouts and summer squash and (insert your least liked here.)

5. But I want avocados in winter.

6. But organic costs so much!

7. I have to go to the market how often?

8. But I don't want to cook every night.

9. But my kids won't eat (insert their least favorite food here.)

10. But they don't grow _____ in Texas.

11. Pastured meat costs what? You got to be kidding.

12. Eggs too? Shit.

13. Now cantaloupe? Isn't anything safe?

14. But it's too hot to go to the farmer's market.

I cannot tell you the number of times I've stopped dead in front of the meat, eggs, milk or produce sections at the market, frozen in confusion and no little frustration.

Factory farmed meat, antibiotics, growth hormones, inhumane conditions. Nope. Eggs. Battery cages. Fraudulent labeling claims. Salmonella. Hmmmm. Cottage cheese, butter, milk. Antibiotics. Inhumane conditions. Shit.

Reality is where the rubber meets the road. I live on a budget and I know too much. This is a dilemma.

So after a year of eating fresh, natural, organic, clean, fair, sustainable and local (or nearly so,) here's my advice.

This is a voyage of discovery. New foods. New flavors. New limits. Old attachments. Some of it is perfectly wonderful - like discovering the perfect summer squash soup. Some of it, well, it just doesn't work for you, no matter how you slice it. (See avocados above.)

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Start now. Educate yourself. Take it one day, one shopping trip at a time. If this is going to work for your health, it means changing your life. That takes a lot of energy and often a lot of time. There's a learning curve to this as all things. You're getting with it as well as you can. All any of us can do is the best we can at any given point in time. Be satisfied with that. And stick with it.

"Habit is habit", says Mark Twain, "not to be thrown at the window but coaxed down the stairs, one step at a time."

Bon appetit.
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