When I start to talk food with the average Joe/Josephine, he/she starts to back away. I can see the wheels turning: Whoa Nelly!
But even the average Joe has heard enough information nowadays to become an informed consumer. Local ways of eating are all around us. In fact, where I live, we are singularly blessed to have 1) legal raw milk, and 2) a community that does their part to support local agriculture and businesses. And I am incredibly blessed to have my own source for goat's milk, cheese, pastured organic eggs, grass-fed ground beef, and (sometimes) chicken in the same farmer. I love my farmer. She's incredibly good to my family.
I get on this kick of telling others about it every blue moon--usually when I haven't talked about it in a while. Like I said, when I start talking food and local and real fat, people start getting a little scared. Or offended? Something.
It's not a matter of being better. It's not even a matter of loving to cook, which I do. In fact, I'd love to cook even if I weren't a crazy health food fanatic (in a very traditional way) trying to once again convince my daddy to try raw milk. (Really, we just let it slide. At least he drinks it in his coffee.)
I also recognize the need for convenience in food, especially since I teach and go to school and have a busy life. I've consumed waaayyy too much McDonald's mocha to say too much about it. But the principle of the matter remains the same: America's food problems stem from the over-industrialization of its food sources. Fake food does not a healthy population make.
So, what do I do, on a consistent basis, to make my family a healthier and happier group?
- When Mama heard about Mad Cow Disease a couple of years ago, it scared her away from beef. Now we mostly use ground beef from my local farmer. We know what these cows were fed, in fact, I even visited them at the farm. I'm starting to get closer to my food.
- Local sausage: There are several meat processors in our area that do a lot of processing for local hunters and farms. One makes sausage which our local grocery store sells, and on the package it advertises "No MSG". I don't know about the quality of the pork, but at least I know it doesn't have MSG.
- Chicken: Our egg lady is out to do some serious good. She not only provides almost my entire family with eggs, but every once in a while she will process birds specifically for her customers. I'm really thankful; it makes it easy to get clean (soy-free) meat. I'm still experimenting to get a true grasp of cooking these birds perfectly, but high-heat roasting in a covered dish really works well. (My Thanksgiving turkey also came from her last year!)
- Venison: I'm excited about this one! Our next-door neighbor loves to hunt for the sport, but doesn't want to see the meat go to waste. It looks like we'll get our venison without being hunters ourselves; we'll just pay the processing fee and have plenty of natural meat for cheap. (And if any body knows what to do with it, I'd be mighty thankful for some recipes!)
- Eggs: of course. Why else would I call my farmer my egg lady? :)
- LARD: I'm about to make it again--perhaps I'll record the process this time? It's very easy, and even easier when you chop it in the food processor, and make it in the crock pot! I think I saw this recommended somewhere; I don't remember. A friend of mine tried it and says it worked like a charm. What I do know is this: It makes wonderful fried anything, biscuits, and pie crust. I get my fat from Eden Naturals Pork.
- Butter: Right now is the time to stock up on Organic Valley's cultured butter: it's a brand/ style that Sally Fallon mentions in Nourishing Traditions. I'm waiting for it to go on sale at my awesome local grocery chain, which really does a good job on the organic and local side of things.
- Animal Fats: When we buy bacon, we usually buy the expensive kind: organic or natural, without nitrates. We save the fat, and use it for all kinds of things: vegetables, morning fried eggs, onions--whatever. We probably have too much in our fridge right now, but that's okay by me.
- Olive Oil: organic, extra-virgin is our standard. I'd like to get some less flavorful oil for other situations, but right now this is what we have and use.
- Coconut Oil: can too much be said about this wonderful stuff? What else can you cook with, and also use as the best-ever moisturizer? It's not only amazingly good for you, but it also is antiviral and antibacterial.
- Peanut Oil: because it's natural, it fries well, and it's mild, we also keep this on hand.
- I've probably said enough about this already, but here goes: local, grass-fed goat or cow's milk. Usually cow's milk is what we get.
- Raw cheese (most of the time)
- I should buy local ricotta, but I don't usually.
- Yogurt. I should make it at home, but I've not done it in a while. We do (usually) buy organic, usually Stoneyfield Farm.
- I'm kinda off the freshly ground whole wheat bread thing. I still love the taste, but I'm afraid it's not as good for you as I originally thought. I usually buy Ezekiel Bread, which my dad won't touch. (He eats that awful white wheat stuff from the store--bleck. Of course, he says the same thing about my Ezekiel bread.)
- Any pastries, biscuits, cookies, or quick breads coming from my kitchen usually end up being any where from 50-100% freshly ground soft white flour. It's still better for you than plain ole' bleached white!
- My daddy doesn't really care about this, but his apple juice is organic. So is the sugar he puts in his coffee. And most of his baked goods (when he gets them from our kitchen) have organic and/or local ingredients in them. We also keep sort-of local raw honey, sucanant, and stevia on hand.
- We tend to stick to this article on what to buy organic in the grocery store: onions, lettuce, carrots, apples, grape tomatoes. We don't always buy peaches an other fruits organic, though we should.