Real Food Good Intentions

Since I’m still on glorious vacation (celebrating early my 10 year anniversary coming up in October), I’m going to post my SECOND EVER Eating Poorganically post wherein I laid out some of my initial ideas about this journey. This post was written a year ago in August 2011. I did post some updates after four months of the journey, but I’m going to wait to tell you our current standings until later this week after all the reruns are done.
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Against my better judgment and the advice of some of you, I have resolved to carry out a little experiment to see if our family of five can eat organically and not hate it. I have already begun some research into the matter and have drawn some of my inspiration from a blog written by a woman here in the Charlotte area called 100 Days of Real Food, where her family converted entirely to organic eating for 100 Days. After they successfully completed that challenge, they took on a subsequent challenge to eat organically for 100 Days using $125 a week, which is less than the $167 Food Stamp budget, allotted for a family of four. She even posts menus and food lists on her website, which I intend to borrow from in our effort to do a similar, but different thing. I strongly recommend you check out her site and I have mostly only positive things to say about it. It is very interesting and helpful to read her journey; I hope you will.

BUT . . .Here’s the problem. Or two. Or several. Basically, I am going to tell you a what I want to do differently. I basically want to make this experiment one that would be realistic for people like me: those who have incomes under 50K, live in small towns, and don’t want to devote their entire lives to obsessions about what they do and do not eat.

1. $167!!!! WHAT the heck!?! After the 100 days of eating real food on a budget ($125), she confessed that she was thrilled budget eating was over so that they could go back to their “normal” way of eating and spending more. They were tired of working so hard to spend so little and having to eat so strangely. While, I totally loved the site up to that point, I wanted to spit on the computer screen when I read that. What about people who CAN’T go back to spending more?!? What if there isn’t more?!? (Sorry, but as it turns out the exclamation point was created for just such a time as this.) I would like to be on food stamps if that is what they spend per week on food alone! Unbelievable! Can I keep using exclamation points to demonstrate my amazement!?!

The Poorganic Life Eating Poorganically budget will be $85-$100 a week for food. We have a $500 a month CONSUMABLES budget, recently increased by necessity from $400, which we could not maintain. This INCLUDES non-food consumables like toiletries, household items, and DIAPERS. I am keeping it the same as what it is now because there is no miraculous new money to use. If we got new money, I think it would be hard for me not to feel that starving people would appreciate any food more than I would appreciate my ability to eat organically. Hmmm . . . this is getting dangerously close to a moral issue; therefore, I now run away . . .

(Update 12-1-11. SO far we are spending a little more than $100 for food and consumables per week.)

2. She shops at Earth Fare and Trader Joes OFTEN, which are both a minimum of 25 minutes from my house AND, significantly, they don’t have kid-carts. Uggghhhh.

The Poorganic Life Eating Poorganically Experiment will attempt to shop mainly at Harris Teeter and the Farmer’s Market with occasional Earth Fare or Trader Joes trip. I feel strongly that if organic eating is only viable for those persons who live on farms, are really wealthy, or live in big, fancy socially conscious suburbs, than it is not much of a lifestyle option for say, the world. (No offense intended if you farm, are wealthy, or live by Whole Foods; I’m just saying, it is easier for you.) Plus, if I’m adding on tons of gas to get myself to and from these granola-ish stores, that is kind of counter-intuitive to Eating Poorganically, no?

(Update 12-1-11. We are going to Earth Fare A LOT more often because of Kids Eat Free on Thursdays and good coupon offers. I’m doing Trader Joes once a month.)

3. For the most part, they are EXCLUSIVELY eating organic food although she honestly admits when they don’t, but she is pretty puristic about it, which means that the $125 doesn’t go very far.

We are going to gradually increase organic eating the best we can based on what we learn. I am not going to “start from scratch,” which means that initially, I will be incorporating my existing non-organic pantry items with my organic purchases. After my research, if I determine that non-organic bananas, once peeled, are essentially pesticide free for consumption, I will not trouble myself with legalism for that item. I’ll try to keep you posted as I learn things. (I’ve actually already made the banana call though, if you must know.)

4. Some of the menus, while varied and interesting, DEFINITELY lack the quantity of food my household will require. For example, one of the lunches is “yogurt and a little honey with banana bread and grapes.” Um . . . I’m waiting . . . . for the part after the appetizer . . . so that my husband will not divorce me for starvation.

We are going to eat until we are full. After I started couponing, my people got used to having lots of food around the house, and I don’t think we can go to a scanty cupboard existence without protest. If I have to trade in a couple pounds of organic yogurt and banana bread so that I can make J a deli meat sandwich for lunch, well, that’s just what’s gonna happen.

5. It seems like “real food” eating means you spends a LOT of time planning meals, finding food for a certain price, buying that food, and cooking. I know that I have somewhat just described my life exactly, but to be honest, I am not really THAT interested in expanding that category in an even MORE OBSESSIVE sort of way.

Here I will sound like a hater, so just bear with me if you can.:

Are we stay-at-home moms so short of real things to do that we have manufactured an entire industry of throwback domestic busyness for ourselves to do, take photos of, and then brag online about? This is a real question since I am actually going to be doing this. I have to pray and think through what the balance is between being a good steward of my time, money, and my health is.

But I will tell you what. If at any point, I start talking about wheat grinders, will someone just shoot me? No, wait. I take that back. Don’t. Because I actually watched a wheat grinder demo today and thought, “Huh, that doesn’t look so bad.” I guess part of my observation is that it seems like this recreational organic-ness is a void-filler in a bored life. Maybe I’m not intrigued by the 1950s mom-bit because I’ve done the whole made-from-scratch life in PNG. It wasn’t optional then, so the idea of delightedly making my own organic granola doesn’t fill me with a deep inner sense of Proverbs 31ness. It overwhelms me. So to that end,

For Eating Poorganically, I am going to keep doing what I am doing now with increased attention to NOT buying processed food. That is all. I may make bread and granola because I like to do that and it has nothing to do with organic-ness. Just to prove it, I will pour some high-fructose corn syrup over the granola to help it stick together and become especially sweet and crunchy. Yum. Then I will pray over the granola that no genetically modified corn was used for the syrup, and if it was, that God will protect my innocent children from its damaging effects. (Wait. Is that like smoking when pregnant and praying that the fetus doesn’tt inhale? . . . .I am not prepared for this organic thing to become a moral issue. Moving on . . .)

6. 100 Days of Real Food Lady says that she and her husband lost weight and had lots of great improvements to their family’s health. This is not a complaint, but we are not doing this for either of those reasons. In fact, if anyone in my family loses weight at all, it would be a health problem. My husband exercises and lifts weight and is very fit. My kids are active and perfectly weighted. I am sloth-like and hardly exercise, but apparently am freakishly thin (my little Mii Lady on Wii-Fit droops miserably every time I step on bi-annuallyI hate her) so it would seem that for the most part we are all currently very healthy, thus

As disease prevention and avoidance are immeasurable and maybe even unprovable, we are going to be closely observing whether Eating Poorganically will make us feel stronger, healthier, or more energetic. I am hoping it will because if it does nothing obvious, Eating Poorganically will seem like a lot of work for nothing. If we feel worse, hungrier, or tireder, we will probably give it up. I’m just being honest. I am going to keep looking for real proof in the form of a study, but so far I have not actually seen any definitive link between eating certain foods and avoiding disease that could not be explained by other variables. Please let me know if you have read a good study on this. (I am not saying that there is not very strong suggestive evidence, but I mean ACTUAL evidence.)

Any other considerations that you think I should take or that you’d like me to take as you watch and critique our little experiment? Also, thanks SO MUCH for the links and resources you’ve sent in the comments so far! I’m checking them all out and appreciate all of the input. Keep it coming!
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So there it is.  For those of you who have been reading since the beginning of this journey, I’d love to know how big of a hypocrite you think that I am. How have your real food “good intentions” played out with your eating?

10 Responses to Real Food Good Intentions

  1. Tina Shoemake August 10, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    I really love your blog. I found it several months ago, and I am glad I did. I am struggling with our real food/organic switch. We live in a small town that is almost an hour away from the nearest Whole Foods, and our “Farmer’s Market” sells very few local or organic produce options (pointless, if you ask me!) With limited local options and being on a small budget, this summer became a potato chip/ramen noodle fest for all of us. Back to school is inspiring me to make another effort, so I will continue to follow your blog for any ideas that will help:) Thank you for honestly sharing your own experiences.

    • Katrina August 10, 2012 at 9:34 pm #

      You can always check in the “Eating Poorganically” section for the older posts that I’ve already done although those are kind of the ones that I’m re-running now. My biggest encouragement is to just do your best and not beat yourself up. Staying sane is as important as healthful eating. :)

  2. Mary DeMuth August 10, 2012 at 4:58 pm #

    I adored this post. You’re a terrific writer with a wicked (in a good way) sense of humor. Well done!
    Mary DeMuth recently posted…Kicking Down Walls {Awesome Guest Post by Tammy Helfrich}My Profile

    • Katrina August 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm #

      I’m blushing. Thanks for reading. Now I’m headed over to look at your blog. :)

    • Katrina August 10, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

      Okay, I feel like a major dork now for my previous glib reply since I just realized you are famous and you are THAT Mary DeMuth. Wowzers! I now fall out of my chair in shock and horror, hoping that I didn’t overuse the exclamation point. I’m so happy you liked my writing!!!

  3. Terri August 10, 2012 at 9:09 pm #

    I think you are absolutely awesome! I have been researching many organic websites, including 100 days of real food. My 18 year old son has gone totally organic. (He mostly eats cereal & milk). However he makes me guilty for the food my husband, daughter & I eat. I want to eat healthy! I don’t want the pesticides. I want to feel better! But I am overwhelmed. I live in a small town with very few places to buy organic & when I do the cost is so expensive. Anyway, to make a long story short. You are SOOO realistic and reasonable in your venture. I admire your honesty. You make me feel like I am human, normal and could possibly accomplish a poorangic life. I am glad I found your blog. Thank you so much!

    Terri in WV

    • Katrina August 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

      Thanks! Well, we’ve fallen on and off our own bandwagon, but I always have to remind myself that something is better than nothing AND sanity is a big component of health. SO if fretting over food is making you insane, it isn’t actually good for you. 😉

      • Lisa January 23, 2013 at 11:31 am #

        My best friend met you at a conference and referred me to your blog. She’s knows me well and I do LOVE it. Thank you SO SO much for your fresh perspective on all of this! I love your honesty of falling on and off the bandwagon. I go thru seasons of being really serious about our food, to wanting a trip to Taco Bell. God has used you today to bring more peace to me on this food journey! Thank you and I’m a new devoted reader. :-)

        • Katrina January 23, 2013 at 11:49 am #

          I’m so glad to have a new reader! Thanks for your comment. It is a great encouragement to me since I haven’t been blogging much lately due to discouragement/ writer’s block. Maybe I should get back to it!?

  4. Rebecca August 12, 2012 at 12:19 am #

    I think you have done a great job. You have been honest about where your family really is in this process. Your good intentions are genuine and realistic and have been a great encouragement to me. I am making decisions based on my good intentions. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and wish i could go back to being blissfully unaware of all that you have brought to my attention. But I know that it is for the health of myself and my family. I want to give them that gift even if it is hard work. Your blog has helped me set realistic goals for my family. Thank you for all that you have researched and done the last year(ish). And of course your writing is enjoyable to read.