I couldn’t post about what we eat and exercise without addressing the need to change the stereotypical American diet.  Americans are suffering from diseases expounded upon by unhealthy food choices at wild rates.  Our children are being affected by diseases that were usually common in adults.  In eastern Kentucky, we are seeing large increases in diabetes and heart disease.  The food and diet industry want us to believe that it is from consuming too much fat.  Fat period.  Blanketing the word.  Not distinguishing between types of fats.  Then, there is the amount of refined sugar we consume, and high fructose corn syrup.  You gotta love those new commercials.  It’s okay in moderation. 😉

In December, I found myself very ill.  When I came out on the other side of that sickness a month later, I was twenty pounds lighter and feeling weak.  I wanted to regain my health and strength.  I wanted to use this opportunity to explore the food I was eating and what I was feeding my family.  I wanted to be a healthy mother and example for my girls.  I have been thinking about food all my life.  I’ve come from finishing whole bags of Oreos with my Dad on our weekends together, to being a self starving athlete passing out on the hardwood, to an overweight and depressed college student, to again a food controller, then motherhood, and now real health.  The first thing I did when I needed to regenerate myself was to grab my Nourishing Traditions cookbook, by Sally Fallon.

I had attempted a Traditional Foods way of life right when I discovered I was pregnant with Ivy.  Unfortunately, all day morning sickness took over and I just couldn’t stomach a change.  This time I was ready.  It always intrigued me when I thought of what my ancestors ate.  My mountain ancestors ate what they could grow or raise before the introduction of processed and shipped in foods.  They cooked with lard, used whole milk and butter that was not pasteurized and was fresh.  They ate meat with every meal when it was available either through livestock or hunting.  They sweetened with molasses, sorghum, and honey (until refined white sugar was introduced).  Our people ate three full meals when times were good, consisting of a meat or two, several vegetables, and cornbread or biscuits.  Of course, there was the desert on the occasions of special times and company.  They ate until satisfied, and most did not become overweight.

I wondered how they managed this, and always thought it was because they worked all day.  That they did, but it was in intervals of hard work and easier day to day type chores.  It wasn’t like the quick intense workouts we do today.  What they did do is eat their portion of real whole foods that they worked to raise and prepare without the ease of ready-made things.  They weren’t putting ingredients into their body that they didn’t recognize.  So, after reading Nourishing Traditions, thinking of how my people did things, and what my body told me I needed, I decided to go with my family toward real, natural, and when available organic foods.  No pre-boxed, half-cooked, freeze dried, corn syruped, bleached flour, vegetable oil, soy laden dinners.  Whole food, scratch made, all the time.

Now, we are not a family with money by any means.  We pinch pennies and do without what many families consider musts.  We are creative folks and both of us have chosen to make our creative endeavors our life’s work.  I decided to give up teaching middle school to stay home with my girls, and it has meant we have had to cut many corners.  Moving off-grid was our first step to cutting high expense.  Also, off-grid/country living is home to us.  In moving off-grid, you also make some sacrifices.  Good roads, television(okay not a sacrifice), luxury living, and natural food markets.  As I have mentioned before, organic foods are few and far between here.

To begin looking into this for yourself, you might want to visit the website of the Weston A. Price Foundation (www.westonaprice.org).   Keep in mind these are recommendations based in part on science and in part on traditional folkways.  I have adapted these recommendations to what is available financially, culturally, and geographically to my family.

Here is how I buy food with around $250 monthly to feed 3:

  • I purchase as much Full Circle brand foods and produce I can from the local chain of grocery Food City.  Full Circle is the brand of organics that they carry.  In produce, I try to keep in mind what most Appalachians kept in their garden.  We did this while choosing seeds for our garden too.
  • Raw dairy products are something I have yet to find, so I make due with organic dairy.
  • There are no organic meats to be found.  We eat wild game that my family hunts.  I look for meats that are free-ranged, antibiotic/hormone free, and generally as well kept as possible.  I buy Gerber chicken, Laura’s Lean Beef, and Full Circle Salmon brands.  For breakfast meats I buy Swaggerty’s Natural MSG free sausage and Oscar Meyer Natural Bacon free of nitrates and MSG.
  • I try to stay away from too many grains.  I am able to find organic corn meal, wheat flour, and spelt flour in Bob’s Red Mill brand.  The rest of my grains I buy from Yoder’s Bulk Foods in Hindman, Kentucky.  The store is ran by a local group of Mennonites.  Oatmeal and Cornmeal are our favorite grains or grain-like products.
  • I sweeten only with the following: sorghum, molasses, organic/local honey, raw honey, organic agave nectar.
  • I cook with only the following: lard, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, bacon drippings, whole butter unsalted.

That is the basics of what I  do.  Everything in my kitchen is hand-made unless there is another more Traditional Food type option available to me.  I cook two meals a day and lunch is often left-overs.  We eat a lot of nuts as well.

Now, you may think that this costs more than your typical American shopping expenses.  However, even I was surprised by a recent shopping trip I made with my sister.  She bought mostly pre-packaged, ready made, and non-organic food stuffs.  I bought all organic or natural.  We both spent $125 for our carts of groceries!  I stayed away from the middle aisles and stuck to whole foods.  You can eat this way on a tight budget.

Some other things we are doing to cut costs is grow our own garden and hopefully we will be getting our own laying hens.  Another plus to living off-grid.  I’ll leave you today with our most recent gardening delights.

A Man and His Tiller

A Man and His Tiller

Hoe Hand to Add to My Writer's Callus

Hoe Hand to Add to My Writer's Callus

Potato Planting at Dusk in Pajamas

Potato Planting at Dusk in Pajamas

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