Food. What a mighty topic that is. There are so many “right” ways to eat out there it is enough to make your head spin. I have come to realize that I have many different food philosophies, and they all seem just right but then I stop to think about them more, and I’m not sure I can follow just one. I know that I want to eat a local and seasonal diet – this while I eat my salad for lunch…in February.
It all started back with the recalls of spinach. I knew at that point that I had to eat a local diet. And I did, sort of. I made sure that we found a CSA share, and we drove out to the farm to pick it up every week. And I loved that CSA. I loved having all of the fresh vegetables around all the time. I loved that our farmers would deliver us eggs throughout the winter, right to my door! It was awesome.
Then I started to question my intake of dairy. I wanted to eat cheese all the time. I mean, there are few people I know that do not love cheese. Surprisingly, my daughter is one of those people. She has never liked cheese, and I doubt ever will. I decided to try reducing my intake of dairy (ok, it really was just cheese, I don’t drink milk), and to my surprise many of the issues that I have been dealing with for years and years went away.
Well, that sent me down another rabbit hole. There were documentaries involved of course, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead; Crazy, Sexy, Cancer; Forks Over Knives; and Hungry for Change. These all seemed to stress a mainly plant based diet.
Now, we had already cut our meat consumption way down. I watched Food, Inc. first, and that pretty much put me off of all commercially raised meat. And unfortunately, organic, grass fed meat is not all that cheap. After hearing so much about how meat can cause your body to be acidic, and how germs and illnesses thrive in an acidic environment, I realized that I wanted to eat a plant based diet.
Let’s get back to that whole local/seasonal eating plan though. Eating a plant based diet, in Maine, in the winter, is pretty much impossible. I am sure that there are some creative people that could make it work, and we probably could as well if we had unlimited funds (and a much larger garden), but that is not the case. I realized that we needed to eat some meat in the winter.
I thought about how our ancestors must have lived. My family has been in New England for many generations, and although it may be hard to think about, we didn’t always have a supermarket to go to. There was a time when what you preserved during the summer, or hunted in the fall, got you through the winter. So while I think it would be amazing to be a raw food vegan, I don’t think it is going to work for the rest of my family.
But what do I do about these conflicting philosophies? Obviously it would be next to impossible to have green juice in the winter – although I am sure it can be done since kale can grow quite a while into the winter, and apples are available in my area all winter long – but I can still make healthy vegetable based soups with lots of squash or pumpkin, and potatoes are always available here. Then it hit me, the 80/20 rule.
I was reminded of the 80/20 rule in Tsh Oxenreider’s new book – Notes From a Blue Bike. In it she talks about slow food, but also reminds us that we don’t have to take it to such an extreme. If you can eat a certain way 80% of the time, you should be able to give yourself leeway on the other 20%. That is what I am trying to do now. Knowing that I want to eat a certain way, but realizing I need to give myself a bit of grace. I forget to be thankful sometimes about how many choices we actually have with regards to food. I don’t have to rely solely on what I put up for the winter (which is a good thing, because I am running out of most things now, and it is only February 7th!). At the same time I have to follow what my body craves, and if it is a salad in February, so be it.
Do you have conflicting food philosophies? Are you trying to eat one way, and seem to constantly slip up? What tips do you have for eating a healthy, well-balanced diet?