Friday, April 20, 2012

Eat Local Challenge

A few weeks ago I shared a little bit about my hubby's health challenges in this post and I've shared about my health challenges in this post. So not to whine about our issues again (whaaaaaah!) you can read those if you like. Well we just got my hubby's latest blood test results and we are celebrating that he has once again lowered his cholesterol without the use of medication! Yay! So it's more confirmation for us that we can't continue to sit back and blame genetics for our health issues. Yes, genetics clearly play a huge roll in the issues we have, but it's how we respond to those issues that will affect our health in the long run. Also, we have a huge responsibility for teaching our children how to take care of their bodies, minds and souls. I don't want my daughter thinking she can eat french fries and hot dogs for every meal simply because it tastes good to her. Because it's not good for her. And she and our son now have multiple strikes again them in the genetics department. So how can we prevent them from experiencing the symptoms we've experienced? We need to teach them how to eat. But to do that we first need to reteach ourselves how to eat. Over the past 2 years we (mostly meaning me, since I cook and shop for our family) have become obsessed with how to save money on our monthly grocery budget. I became more of a stay-at-home mom and we had to cut from our budget somewhere (cancel internet service, you say? Go wash your mouth out with soap!) I've been so narrow minded in my couponing ways that I have had blinders on to something even more valuable- our family's health. We have eaten more processed food and less real food. We certainly haven't eaten anything organic or local on a regular basis because I thought we just couldn't afford it. But I've discovered that we can't afford not to eat better. The saying "Pay your farmer now or pay your doctor later" really hit home with me and I felt like God has been telling us to make a drastic change.

So, over the past couple of months I have vowed to not turn a blind eye any longer.  We are beginning the process of educating ourselves more and making better decisions for the big picture! We need to make educated decisions for our health and well being and we need to know where our food comes from, how is it being raised and who we are supporting by buying it. Seems simple enough, right? Well, it kind of is. But it's also overwhelming. At first, I was researching too much too quickly and started having nightmares about genetically engineered foods chasing me through giant soybeans fields. Seriously, that happened. So, I went back to square one and just started looking into what our options were locally. That's when I discovered a really easy local challenge. April is Eat Local month in Charleston and the challenge can be as drastic as you want it to be. You can commit to changing a few things or everything. Like spending 10% of your grocery budget on local food or you can make a little bigger of a commitment like spending 100% of your grocery budget on local food. We are somewhere in between right now as we get our feet wet. We have signed up for a CSA with Our Local Foods and we have discovered some other great local products through that site. Some foods we knew about like the free range chicken from chicken whisperer Nate Davis at Thornhill Farms (which is delish!) and quite a bit more products that we didn't know about, like the low temperature pasteurized, non- homogenized milk from the Happy Cow Creamery- I'm not a milk drinker, but that stuff is ah-ma-zing!
Mmmm... free-range... well it was once.  

Our Local Foods delivery this week! Delivery right to my kitchen for a few dollars extra (so worth it!)

 We've also signed up for a CSF (That's community supported fishery) through Abundant Seafood on Shem Creek right in our town of Mount Pleasant. We haven't picked up yet, but I'm really excited to pick up fish right on the docks! The kids are going to love that! 

And we've also been dining out locally. Last week we enjoyed an incredible date night feast at 17 North Roadside Kitchen  which serves all local food and they know how to serve it up right! 
Do you see my pork chop? That's the small size portion, y'all!
And the local shopping has been a blast, too. The kids are in love with our local farm store at Boone Hall. It may be the free samples of fresh ground peanut butter. Or the fact that I don't have to strap them into those giant car carts that I hate to maneuver down the aisles.
Sure, I'll get a bunch of apples to hide the chocolate truffle at the bottom of the bag. Genius! 
Picking our own strawberries at Boone Hall
And what does an all local dinner plate look like? Well, this is what we had tonight:
New York Strip from McCutchen Farms topped with shiitake mushrooms from Mepkin Abbey, asparagus & collard greens from Boone Hall Farms, potatoes from Thornhill Farms, with a side of sourdough bread from Normandy Farms Bakery topped with pimento cheese made in-house at Kitchen Table Cuisine. And all the herbs I used to season the food were from our own backyard.

So what will our grocery list look like after the Eat Local Challenge ends in April? I'm thinking we will be working a lot of these things into our budget on a permanent basis to help improve our overall health. And showing our kids that the food we eat can come from right down the street instead of the produce section at the big-box grocery store may just set something in motion. Good habits start young. 

So who wants to join us in this challenge? You can register here and print out this scorecard to help you come up with goals and keep track of them. 

We're having a blast! And I feel better than I have in a LONG time. My joints aren't inflamed and I have more energy than I've had since before I had kids. My long term goal is to get off my super-crazy once-a-week-injected, possibly cancer-causing medication. With the assistance of my doctor, of course. But for the first time in years I see a light at the end of that tunnel. I see it as a possibility. And that's a straight from above miracle right there. Can I get a A-men?


  1. That's great! I'm still intimidated by the price of some of this food, although like you said pay now or pay later...

    1. As a result, we are eating less meat and more veggies. We ate way too much meat before. I always thought that was supposed to be the bigest portion, but it's not. And I have been spending less on 'impluse buys' by staying out of the grocery store. Last week all we bought at a grocery store was bananas.

  2. I just found your blog this morning through my twitter feed - I believe the one of the "Local" twitter feeds highlighted you. I live in Summerville and am going to be doing a lot of research soon regarding foods and the environment. My daughter (now 6) has had problems with eczema and major problems with throwing up - we've never been able to pinpoint the exact food, dye, additive or whatever may be causing the problem but like you, we are always trying to each much healthier (hard to do in this day and age of "convenience".

    The one big thing that folks are doing that scares me is the extreme couponing. While it may be saving people now, they're buying things that we aren't meant to consume in large quantities (if at all). It's kind of scarey the things we are doing in and with our food. I'm so glad to see so many people working towards better health and not just cheaper food.

    1. So sorry to hear about your daughter! I'll pray you can identify what triggers her flare ups and that she will be healed. A friends' son suffered with that for a long time and they drastically changed their diet and he has gotten a lot better.

      Extreme couponing isn't what it appears to be on tv, but I do know what you mean about it being scary. We sacrifice a lot to save a little. In our instant gratification society it has become hard to look down the road at what lies ahead based on the decisions we make for our family today.

      I encourage you to watch the documentary "Food Matters" (it streams on Netflix if you have that) which highlights how we need to elevate the importance of food as fuel for our bodies, instead of using medication to treat the side effects and diseases of poor eating habits. It was eye opening for me!

      Best wishes to you and your family! Keep me posted as to what you discover!

  3. A-men! Thank you for sharing your story. I too have had nightmares of GMO food and pesticides. It can certainly be overwhelming to realize how messed up our food system is and how important food is to our health. Luckily, here in the lowcountry we are blessed with so much opportunity to eat locally. Our organic options are growing too!

    It was hard for my family to make the financial transition initially, but we started thinking about the true cost of food. Just like your quote about the farmer and the doctor, we realized we were paying for packaged food with our bodies, our environment, and ultimately with our pockets as we paid for healthcare.

    I'm so glad you and your family have seen such quick results. We're working hard to adjust our eating patterns too. It's a long process, but it's wonderful to look back and see how far we've come.

    1. The financial commitment is a hard pill to swallow at first, but we have certainly tasted the sweet rewards! It's been a fun and educational experience so far and I look forward to the challenges as well. Thanks for the encouragement!