Wednesday, August 17, 2011

shopping for food

Talk about your personal choices. What we choose to eat, where we eat it, and where is buy is darned personal. I am continually amazed at the number of people who seem to feel it is necessary to lecture others about the appropriateness of their choices. Sadly, I know I have done just that from time to time, not because I think for a moment it's my right or obligation, but simply because I get carried away. That may be what happens in many cases, I don't know and can't know for sure.

What I do know is that any of use who read food blogs or pages, or for that matter, have conversations about food, have probably been on both sides of those lectures. The self-righteousness is suffocating sometimes. I really think there are times when we just can't help it. You know, someone asks a question or makes a comment, and before you know it, here comes the adrenaline,  out comes the soapbox, and it's all downhill from there.

That's how I get sometimes when the topic of groceries comes up. I say with pride, "I don't go to grocery stores." It's mostly true, I don't shop at supermarkets, but so what?  I do not think that is a superior position. It is a choice I make, we make really, in how we will spend our money and what we will put on our table or in our bodies. It is, admittedly, a choice  of privilege. It costs a heck of a lot more to shop at natural foods stores (which really are a smaller version of grocery stores), specialized mail-order companies, health food stores, and direct organic produce suppliers. My argument is always that we avoid waste, don't buy junk, and that that kind of evens things out. I can hear you snickering. Of course, it doesn't. My food bill is high, but my medical bills are on the decline. I now buy far less in the way of supplements. I virtually never eat in restaurants or buy ready-made food.  And then, there's the pain element. I am not at all fond of pain, and consistently eating and shopping this way has been my first ray of hope in a long time.

All that said, I will try to avoid the soapbox as I make a case for buying the best food you can afford. We are assaulted from so many directions by edible items pretending to be food. People often say that if your grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, that item should not go in your cart, on your plate, or in your mouth. We will have to stretch that to great-grandmother pretty soon, as generation after generation is inundated by these edible food-like substances, as Michael Pollan refers to them in Food Rules: An Eaters Manual. By the way, if you want a quick, entertaining read, get this book. I teach high school students and have worked with a number of teachers, administrators, aides, and secretaries over the years who believe home-cooked means heated in the microwave after being removed from freezer or shelf. Many women as well as men I've worked with consult each and every day with their spouses to determine which is stopping by what restaurant to pick up dinner on the way home. That's where many of us have gone with food.

If you are reading a food blog, you're probably not doing that, at least not often. It still surprises me to see comments on my friends' blogs and FB pages from annoyed readers who want everything in a mix or a can or with no more than three ingredients. I like quick. I like easy. But bottom line for me and many of us is that is has to be food, and for me food rarely comes in a box, never contains GMOs, isn't boiled past recognition to extend its shelf-life and kill bacteria that never should have gotten in it in the first place, and nourishes my body. Did I mention does no harm? That said,  I buy humanely raised lamb, beef, and poultry from people who say they care about their animals and their customers and act in ways that confirm it. I buy wild-caught cold water fish almost exclusively from northern Pacific waters. I buy shrimp from Oregon and produce raised locally by organic farmers who want me to know their names. Some things I can't get locally, so I do a fair amount of mail order. I no longer buy grains at all, and beans are next to go. The only dairy product in our house on a regular basis is heavy whipping cream from organically raised cows. (I still miss putting it in my coffee, but I do not miss the pain in the least. I know I'm a whiner)

More specifically, if you're interested in sources, we order steaks and ground meat from Hearst Ranch, the cattle ranch you see when visiting Hearst Castle on the central California coast at San Simeon. We also order a wide variety of meats and other products from Wellness Meats. You'll see links to their website at the top and bottom of this page. Check them out. They have a lot more than meat, and their shipping is virtually free. One thing I love about Wellness Meats is that you can order one or two packages each of lots of different things, if you'd like. It's almost like shopping in an amazingly well-stock gourmet store. Vital Choice Seafoods is just about the only place we buy fish or shellfish. Their packaging is wonderful, and they, too, have free shipping. I absolutely love their cold-smoked salmon. I could live on it.

While I order some things singly, like almond flour from Honeyville, I also go to for harder to find items, or at least harder for me to find. Things like Celtic sea salt and organic coconut milk, even Pacific Foods chicken and vegetable broths, I order from Amazon. I do not spend a lot of time shopping. We order intermittently, not weekly or even monthly.

I know my shopping patterns are not the norm. Then, my eating patterns are far from the norm, I guess. We eat food and that's just not normal these days, I'm told. I sure hope you're with us.

1 comment:

  1. I do hope none of you who are reading this without a preset agenda know that I am not suggesting everyone should eat the way I must or shop the way we do. I do not ever buy everything I've mentioned here at the same time. It's little by little building a pantry and building a stock in the freezer---just in case. Bottom line is, as always, strive for the best you can do. I do not apologize in the least for suggesting that we are better off eating food than plastic.


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