Real Food and a Homesteading Lifestyle: My Personal Challenge

February 5, 2016

If I had to think of the first thing that comes to mind when I hear the term “homesteading” or “self-sufficiency” it would be: Food.

Homegrown, organic, nutrient-rich food. After all, isn’t growing your own food the ultimate, most profound form of self-sufficiency? What better way to reduce your dependency on a failing, and frankly, morbidly unhealthy, food system than to grow it yourself?

I read the news lately, and each day, I grow more and more concerned with the state of things. Take, for example, the outbreak of e. coli in the popular food chain, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. At the time of writing this, the CDC claimed that the two separate outbreaks seem to be over, but that they have ultimately been unable to determine the source of said outbreaks.

GardenbedsReread that sentence. Appear to be over, unable to find source. I find that incredibly disheartening. It solidifies my goal to produce as much of my own food as possible. There’s an overwhelming sense of reassurance when you bite into a fresh tomato, picked only moments earlier, knowing exactly how it was grown. Knowing the whole process, from the seed to the dinner plate.

Personally, I believe homesteading and real food go hand in hand. I’m not sure I would see the point in small scale farming, if not to feed yourself and your family. Making a business out of it, I can totally get on board with. But starting a farm to sustain yourself and then breaking into a box of ring dings on the daily just doesn’t make sense to this girl 😉

Disclaimer: I dislike ring dings immensely. I may or may not, however, break into a box of Nutter Butters on rare occasions. I’ll never tell.

Know that I am totally not judging you if you eat ring dings. Or if you grow your own food as a business–the world needs more small scale farmers who practice a natural and organic farming style. It’s small farms like these that fill farmers’ markets, and allow for people who simply would rather buy than grow, or that don’t have the space or time to produce their own food, to be able to eat a locally grown, real food diet. It keeps money in local economies. I’m all about it!

Who knows. Maybe one day I’ll start my own little farm business 😉

But that day is not today. And today’s post is really way more simple than my ramblings have made it out to be. Get back on track, Taylar.

I will stand before you all in internet land and be the first person to shout: I don’t always eat a real food diet!

WHAT?! It’s true. I know, I KNOW! Winters’ are hard for me, because I tend to suffer from a bout of “why the heck is there snow all over and I can’t be outside gardening in the sunshine, surrounded by beautiful colored plants everywhere”. And when I can’t be growing things that I can eat, I start to mosey on off the real food path and eat a lot of unhealthy, processed food.

For real. It’s a thing, people.

But I’ll also be the first person to take a step back and say that committing to a real food lifestyle is about being realistic. And life is about having a balance. Translation: I will not give up my Nutter Butters.

Another translation: I really need to find a healthier version that I can make at home. A girl has needs, people! And a budget.

So I’ve decided to commit to a challenge, so to speak. I don’t have a fancy name for it. I’m sorry. I just don’t! I’ll come up with something, though. Promise! My challenge is simple.

For the next six months, I will adhere to a very personalized real food lifestyle. And I will share it all with you, by posting an update once a week, until my challenge is over.

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The idea here is to highlight that a real food lifestyle doesn’t have to be like dieting. I don’t really like to even use the word diet, because it brings to mind depriving myself of foods I truly love. And I don’t want to do that! I want to commit to finding or creating healthier versions. Versions that nourish the body and mind, rather than depleting them. The goal here isn’t weight loss, I’ll say right now, so we’re clear. I’m not concerned about losing or gaining weight. I’m concerned with giving my body what it needs, as unprocessed and naturally as possible.

In keeping with an organic, natural, real food lifestyle, I will also avoiding GMOs. For those of you that also avoid them, you know this can be tricky. It seems GMOs are in just about everything these day, and yet the government doesn’t require companies to label for them on food packaging. Luckily for us, there are quite a few companies who have taken our requests to heart, and started avoiding GMOs all together. Though I do intend on eating as little processed food as possible, I will treat myself to foods that I believe are as natural as can be, even if I didn’t make them myself. Balance, people!

I will also be doing all of this on a budget. One: because I believe in frugality. Two: because, like many people, I don’t have a lot of disposable income. I have seen over and over that being on a limited income has affected so many people from being able to eat the way they want to. And that makes me sad! It makes me sad to think that we live in a society where it’s cheaper to drive through McDonald’s and hit the dollar menu, than it is to throw a simple meal together, filled with food our bodies were meant to eat! But I totally get it, too. It can be hard, especially during the winter months, to afford fresh food. And it can be hard any time of the year to afford fresh, organically grown produce or meat. There is a trick to help lighten the load on your bank account: Eating seasonally.

Part of my challenge includes eating with the seasons. Contrary to what most of us are raised to believe, all foods are truly seasonal. They grow at certain times of the year. But because of our robust trade system, we’re able to import foods from all over the world. All the time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that we have the chance to try so many different foods. There is so much out there that grows great in one place, but doesn’t grow at all in another. The fact that we can try these foods is a blessing, truly. But I also feel it isn’t necessarily healthy. Most of these foods have been picked prematurely, shipped across the world, and where they eventually make their way to the local grocery store. They are normally days, if not weeks, old. They’ve lost a considerable about of nutrients. They’re also outrageously expensive. It takes a lot of time and money to ship something so far. Not to mention, the amount of pollution shipping said items causes. I believe our planet is a precious commodity, and we should lighten its’ load, whenever we can. For me, choosing to eat food that is locally grown and in season helps. Even if it’s just that small bit.

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To wrap up our challenge parameters, the last of my “rules” (I say rules very loosely here. Balance!), is that I will strive to eat/drink food that is locally grown, within a 100-200 mile radius. There will be some exceptions here. Coffee: I will never, ever, EVER give up my coffee. And I don’t see myself finding it within 200 miles. Bananas: I usually have a banana a day in some sort of smoothie. While I can’t get that locally grown, I can get it organically grown. It will be expensive, but I believe that by committing to my other challenge parameters, I will be able to offset this cost. These are the first two exceptions. There will be a few more, that I will list in future updates.

So, to summarize my challenge rules, they are to:

  • Find/Create healthy versions of favorite/processed foods
  • Avoid GMOs
  • Keep within a set budget
  • Eat seasonally
  • Eat locally, within a 200 mile maximum radius

I will post updates weekly, on Tuesdays, to let everyone know how everything is going. As for the budget, I will post next week with our first update what weekly amount I’ve decided to set for myself. It will probably be tweaked the first few weeks while I figure out my system of attack. My food-buying attack. Also a thing. Along with the updates, I will try and post a weekly meal plan. I’m trying to be more organized about my food buying, because I tend to waste money when I go in without knowing exactly what I need to get through the week. So, let the challenge begin!

Whew, that was a lengthy one. Hopefully you’re still with me. Are your eyes glazed over? I’m sorry! Pop over and I’ll make you a cup of fresh tea. Or coffee. We’ll wake you right up! Thanks for stickin’ with me!

 

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