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Whole Food Vegan Checking In

10 March 2014

Four days left of our 10-day food experiment, and I’m really not counting. It’s pretty great. I can see keeping this up.

photo 1

Husband might need a meat vacation on Day 11 before we kick it back in, but that’s okay.

Some thoughts and revelations:

1. This is not cheaper.

Hamburger costs more than carrots, but it takes more carrots. We’re hungry more often, but I think that’s okay ’cause we’re eating small, healthy meals instead of big nasty ones.

(We’ve also discussed turning the entire backyard into a vegetable garden, and installing UV lights in the basement for the winter months.)

2. I have things in my kitchen I didn’t even know existed.

Nutritional yeast? Our local grocer does not carry nutritional yeast, not even in the healthy food half-isle. And I’m pretty sure that raw honey is what fell from the sky when Moses wandered in the desert.

Also, if you ever try this, nutritional yeast tastes nothing like cheese. It’s consistency when blended with almond milk and steamed spaghetti squash is nothing like that of cheese. I can’t believe that all vegans are evil, malicious people, so I have to believe that they’ve forgotten the smooth, rich creaminess of real cheese. They’re not lying to you. They just don’t know.

3. Bread is complicated.

“Multigrain” is not necessarily “whole grain.”

The Whole Grains Council has a stamp that appears on bread packaging to reassure you that you’re getting the right stuff, but some bread companies are ashamed of it, despite what they put their fonts through on the rest of their packaging to convince you that they’re providing the right stuff. I scoured shelves of bread and couldn’t find the stamp on a single loaf of bread until I got home and accidentally saw the stamp on the bottom of the bread I gambled on.

If I’m designing packaging for a loaf of bread that is trying to convince consumers they are educated and intelligent and they want the real-deal, healthy bread – I’m making that stamp as big as possible on the top of the loaf.

There are different stamps, though, that indicate different levels of whole graininess, but these are newer designs so some companies have packaging with the old ones that they’re using up before they use the packaging with the new ones, so anything with the stamp has the minimum amount of whole graininess, but some might have more, but you don’t know for sure which are 100% whole grain unless they have the new stamp because they’re already on to the new packaging.

I started looking up recipes for bread.

photo 2And as I was comparing apples to apples (seriously) in the produce section the other day I had a real revelation.

I’ve always shopped for pretty much anything by the price tag. The generic/cheaper versions are usually on the bottom shelves. Doesn’t matter how much I love that sweater if the price tag isn’t what I think it should be. When I can’t decide what to order off a menu, I default to the cheaper option.

So recently I was stewing to myself about the expense of organic and/or local produce, especially in March, and I suddenly wondered if I should be shopping for food the same way I shop for toothpaste. Why am I trying to save money on food?

(Right now it’s because I have a very limited budget, and I need it to go as far as possible, but in general … )

Why do we want the cheapest possible food options, but the nicest cars and shoes? Why are we appalled at how much it costs for a small farm to produce good food without the blanket use of chemicals, but we accept a big price tag on purses and TVs as a sign of their quality?

What’s more important?

Because every pair of jeans will eventually fade or tear or wear out, and have to be replaced. Every smartphone will be left behind in a year. Every hard drive will eventually crash.

But our food is building our bodies. And yes, those too will eventually wear out and crash, but which should we be happy to invest in?

What if we actually spent time in our yards growing things? What if we used our resources to support local farms/entrepreneurs? What if we forced ourselves to walk away from the screens to prepare and share and clean up a real meal with our families?

Just a thought.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nancy Parent permalink
    10 March 2014 11:17 AM

    Having the same dilema. Not quite ready to go the vegan route but do try to eat lots of good fresh veggies. If you think produce is expensive in Illinois you should check it out in Steamboat Springs CO. We’re very far off the beaten path so delivering here is more costly. Even the summer farm stand man comes from the southern part of the state so his prices are quite high too. Growing season here is very short so, unless you have a greenhouse, doing your own veggies is out of the question. Did try the local farmers co-op, supposedly supporting local farmers. Then a saw sticker on a veggie from Mexico……don’t remember Mexico as being local. So I just keep trying.

    • Lex permalink*
      11 March 2014 10:02 AM

      I can’t imagine how much harder it would be in the mountains. If I’m learning one thing through all of this lately, it’s that each of us just has to do the best we can and be okay with it. Changing the way we think about and use food can’t happen overnight because it took us decades to get here. Baby steps are okay. 🙂

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