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For a long time, I’ve kept my blog to the nitty gritty details. Just the facts, ma’am. No chit chat, here’s the recipe. We’re done.
I’m afraid that because of that, some have misconstrued my life as something other than what it is. I’m not a perfect cook. Not every meal is 100% TF goodness. My budget and my time won’t allow it. If I had more time and a better budget, I’d do better. To paraphrase the words of Teddy Roosevelt, I’m doing what I can with what I have, where I am.
I’m human. In fact, I’m too human. I’m especially human right now since Daddy is so ill. He’s slowly beginning to recover but I’m the only child so it’s all on me, my mom and my husband. He needs 24/7 care. Christmas is coming, the budget is tight, I’m trying to make gifts instead of buy them. My kids are getting older and their schooling needs more hands-on time and attention. My time and attention can be elsewhere. The food is sometimes sub-par.
My kids have eaten hot dogs for lunch. They’ve even had some packaged cereal bars and cookies recently when we had to go to mom’s house at a moment’s notice. And you know what? They’ll live.
There are some things more important than food.
Putting Food In Its Proper Place
I get a lot of feedback that traditional foods are too off-putting. All of the recipes are perfect, you never see TF bloggers make food mistakes (like my turkey tantrum or my sourdough explosion) or admit a weakness for a forbidden fruit. Heaven forbid any of them ever confess to drinking a little Sierra Mist or eating a slice of cheesecake not made out of raw dairy.
People don’t take TF seriously because they can’t do it perfectly and perfect is the only way to go. After all, that’s how all of the bloggers portray it. Everything is loaded with liver, oysters and beef stock, and when they post about what they’re eating on Facebook or on their blog, that’s all they list. It’s all grass-fed, locally-sourced and ridiculously expensive.
I’m sorry. That’s not my life. And I’d bet money that’s not your life, either.
I will not bash you if you can’t do 100% TF. I won’t even bash you if you can only do 50% TF. I won’t tell you your kids would turn out perfect if you’d just try harder and do more or all of life’s ills can be cured by a better diet. Why? Because it’s not true. Yes, you can improve your odds, but no diet can 100% guarantee any outcome. Thinking otherwise is foolish and setting yourself up for a painful fall.
My kids are 7 and 9. I can tell you from experience that diet can’t prevent everything. It will only better your odds. And no diet can prevent accidents and a turn of human events, both of which can wreak more havoc in your life than a diet-related minor health condition.
You have to make choices based on your budget and time constraints. And so do I. And I won’t presume to tell you how to live your life or what decisions to make as if I’m the expert. Because I’m not. I’m only responsible for my choices and decisions. I do not walk in your shoes. I can give advice from my own experience, but if it doesn’t meet your situation, keep looking.
Food is not the most important thing I do as a wife and mother. Yes, it is important, no doubt. But let’s keep some perspective. There are several things I am responsible for that I consider more important and more deserving of my time and money.
So I won’t quibble over whether or not the nitrate-free hot dogs I give my kids are from the store or are locally sourced. How about I just cheer you on for choosing nitrate-free?
Or whether or not they get liver once a week or daily. The liver is small compared to the rest of the edible stuff on an animal. Did God really intend for us to consume it in large amounts daily if He made it in such short supply? I honestly don’t think so. I’ll applaud you for using it where you can.
Or if I’m feeding my children all parts of the chicken equally, all of the time, or if the stock is cooked 18 or 24 hours. How about I cheer you on for making homemade stock? Homemade stock that’s only been cooked a few hours is still better than stock from the store. Home canned stock is still better than store-bought!
Or if the grain for tonight’s dinner has been soaked for 5 or 24 hours. How about I just applaud you pre-planning? Any soaking is better than no soaking at all.
Beans? Any home-cooked bean will be better than a store-bought option soaking in a hormone-disrupting-linned can. But if you are stuck in a pinch, using canned beans is still preferable to a trip through a fast food joint!
These petty discussions and arguments are very off-putting, even for those who have maintained this lifestyle for years. I’ve been doing traditional foods for ten years come January. And seeing the elitism still puts me off!
Yes, there are some basics. I do recommend you make your own stock, reduce your sugar and transition to more natural forms, get rid of the processed foods, watch your carb count and get on probiotic foods. Up the green veggies, up the liver, hide it if you must. Get the best you can afford. Find options your kids will eat and enjoy. Buy organic where it’s available, grass-fed is absolutely best. Grind your own grains if you can save up for a mill. Soak your nuts and grains regardless of their source. Sprout your beans. Have your own chickens if you can, grow your own and know your farmer.
But unless you’re trying to heal cancer or deal with a fragile medical situation, is the stress you’re placing on yourself worth the cost over the tiny details of your diet?
Are your kids better off because mama spends so much time obsessing over the food and doesn’t spend time with them?
I can’t make those choices for you. That is for you to decide.
The (Not So) Painful Truth
I face public lynching in some circles for saying this, but traditional foods is a cooking style. It isn’t all encompassed in local and 100% grass-fed foods. You CAN do traditional foods even if you can’t afford or source all local, grass-fed meat and raw dairy. You can shop at a grocery store and still make better quality foods than just a standard diet. You can buy rice and beans from Wal-mart if that’s your budget, and still prepare them traditionally. If Wal-mart is all you can afford, it’s better to prepare those foods traditionally than not.
You can still reduce your sugar and processed food intake if all you can afford is white sugar. You can even make water kefir out of white sugar. Or make ferments out of grocery store produce. It’s a better option than having no probiotic foods in your diet at all.
Heaven forbid if you can’t consume raw dairy or pastured eggs because of intolerance! Some bloggers make it out that their favorite food is an absolute requirement on a traditional foods diet. NOT SO. There are no foods in the wide world that contain nutrients you can only get from that one food. Every nutrient is available in other foods, too. And it is perfectly acceptable to consume them in non-dairy or egg-free form.
Low-carb, GAPS, paleo, primal. None of them have the corner on the traditional foods market. You do NOT have to do any of the specialty diets to be a traditional foodist. Consider special diets if your situation warrants it, but if you’re symptom free, being reasonable with the sugar and carbs and in good health, it isn’t necessary.
The Guilt-Free Guide To Traditional Foods
So let’s get rid of the food elitism and get real.
Every Monday I’m going to post about what really goes on around here. And I hope you’ll come to see that even if you can’t do it perfectly, it’s still worth doing. And maybe you’ll join me and do it, too.
Spread the Real Food Love (and Humor)
Do you have a Get Real moment? A kitchen disaster you’d like to share? Pictures of a failure? A struggle you know others can identify with? Contact me and you can guest post on my blog.