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.
Angelica Rodriguez says
I have to say this post has really inspired me. Your honesty and boldness have given me hope that I don’t have to be perfect and that any trying is better than none. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability and REALness! May God Bless you for keeping your priorities where they should be.
Angelica Rodriguez recently posted..Buying Opportunities in progress…
this is SO REFRESHING! the elitism and perfection has long bothered and upset me, so i am SO happy to see you take this stance. God bless you for speaking the truth!
Jami @ Eat Nourishing says
KerryAnn, I applaud you for being real and honest. It is true that it can often seem as though we have it all together, never make mistake and eat everything perfectly. It’s simply not true. We work very hard and do the best that we can, but at the end of the day, if you’re stressing out more about not soaking your rice long enough, then you’re causing more harm than good.
I am looking forward to these new Monday posts! Thanks for your courage to speak with honesty.
Jami @ Eat Nourishing recently posted..Caramelized Onion Sweet Potato Bisque
Jill Winger says
Yes, yes, and yes! Especially the “There are some things more important than food.” part. I still love my raw dairy, and grassfed meat, etc, but I DID have a Sierra Mist this weekend. And sometimes I cook with some white flour, and I’m not gonna let the “real food gods” make me feel guilty over that. 😉 And amen on the liver topic, too. I scratch my head when I see all these bazillions of recipes calling for liver. Really?! You go girl! 😉
I’ve dabbled with traditional foods and traditional cooking off and on for a bit now. And as I’m hoping to quit dabbling and make the move to doing it more and better it’s nice to have you around to keep it real, and keep me sane – even when I drive you batty with my questions.
Michelle recently posted..Menu Monday – November 7
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’m sharing this post right now.
Andra recently posted..Homemade Beef Stock
Again and again – THANK YOU
Beth Steenwyk says
Amen to all that you said and all the comments. Love it!! And I needed to hear it. Thanks.
Kandy Inglis says
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have some friends and family who have been watching us closely and inquiring as to how I have recovered from a serious illness by “letting food be my medicine”. I have gone from a wheelchair this time last year to being able to turn my own compost pile this summer. Some of my friends have shown an interest in changing their eating habits, so I share with them some of our successes and the things we have learned. In my enthusiasm, I am guilty of sharing so much about what I have learned here and other places that I think it seems overwhelming to the some people.
Just this last weekend, I talked to two people about how it is the baby steps that get you to a better place. I apologized to both of them for overwhelming them, and explained how it was so much better to approach these changes only as you become aware and maybe “convicted” about eating things that you know aren’t the best choices. Now, after reading your blog post, I can share with them YOUR story, and hopefully encourage them to embrace “food as their medicine”! Thanks, KerryAnn, for the timely reminder!
loztnausten recently posted..Grocery Shopping 2011
Ha! I was just going to start a thread on the forum titled something like \this is where I’m at with food, and that’s okay\ and then I decided to read the daily blog. KerryAnn, you’ve touched on all the things (and more) that I wanted to address. Thanks for saving me the work of wordsmithing!
Great post! and something I’ve long thought. We eat pasture-raised but grain-finished beef. “natural” pork & chicken but not pastured. i buy coconut oil but local, factory eggs. I cook with regular butter and lard, not pastured but not shelf-stable either.My dd gets maple-flavored syrup on her soaked, chocolate chip pancakes, not REAL maple syrup. I buy all my produce from the grocery store though am trying yet again to grow a garden. And I’ve found that we’re so much happier when I take our favorite recipes and make them tf-style than when I try to completely change what I serve to someone else’s tf-recipe.
Thank you for this post. I have been a little down lately and stressing out about meal planning for the holidays (in addition to cooking meals every day). A much needed morale boost.
You took the words right out of my mouth! Little bit of a rant: I am sick of comments from other “traditional food” bloggers making judgements about my blog posts! Why do you have to make a side-note for every corner you cut because of time or money. I am all for education. This is why we are here (personally we don’t make money on our blog!) There are way too many peeps out there on their high horses — not keeping it real! BRAVO for you stating what most of us are thinking!
Jen recently posted..Foie Gras Banned in Califiornia
Thank you for posting this. It’s very challenging for us to find–not to mention afford–local/organic produce, grass-fed meat and raw milk, and with a new baby, I’m having a hard time finding any time to cook or garden. I’ve been so stressed about trying to provide perfect food, and I needed to hear from somebody for whom good food is important that it’s not the most important thing. Now I can stop feeling inadequate and start relaxing and enjoying what we do have a bit more.
First, I want to say that I appreciated your article greatly. We are just starting down the whole foods path. One decision that we’ve made is that we do not want to be in bondage to anything (in Christ Jesus we are free)…not to food addictions nor to whole foods. The point you made about having some other things in your life as more impt than food is excellent. Thank you for your thoughts and transparency.
Secondly, on a lighter note, may I share a \funny.\ As I was reading your article I was nursing my daughter and (shame on.me) eating some chocolate chips. (I’d been craving chocolate and the only real stuff we have in the house is choc chips….at least they are dark choc! Lol) Anyway, during the process, I dropped one of the choc chips, but couldn’t find it. I figured I’d look for it when I got up. Well, at the end of the article, I looked down at my little girl. There on her chin was melted chocolate…from her lip to her neck. I couldn’t help but chuckle. I was busted! Not only was I eating \forbidden food\ but I was slathering it all over my 4 month ok’d. Somehow that doesn’t seem very real food responsible, huh? Lesson learned with a chuckle at myself. Kinda fit in with your encouragement in your article. Guess I’d better go cook some liver or somethingnow, huh! Big smile.
Well said, my friend…well said.
Barb @ A Life in Balance says
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I feel like I need to post this everywhere because it’s a great reminder that none of us can do it ALL, whatever it all is, and that most of the time, we just need to do our best, whatever that is. Life simply isn’t perfect.
Barb @ A Life in Balance recently posted..fall recipes: baked chicken parmesan and cranberry apple crisp
Wonderful post and a big Thank You!!
This post is really relevant to me: a couple of months ago, I had gotten so fed up with trying to be “more-TF,” yet unable to get it “perfect,” that I decided I was just going to give up on it for a while, and only continue doing the things I’d already incorporated. Well, after I gave myself permission to be free from guilt for the things we just couldn’t do (afford grass-fed meat, a grain mill….), I just automatically started doing so much more TF things, like soaking my grains, making batches of broth, and making trips to a friend’s house to grind wheat. After the seeming contradiction in my thoughts and actions, it made me realize that it was the guilt I felt from reading those elitist blogs that was actually holding me back from moving forward. I felt like it was “all or nothing,” and since I couldn’t afford the meat or grind my own grains, I couldn’t do it all, so I just couldn’t do it. Since I let go of that guilt, I am so much happier, and I’m enjoying trying to broaden my TF horizons in many more ways now, even without grass-fed local meat 🙂 (but hopefully we can get some soon!)
I really appreciate you KerryAnn, for keeping it real, and not making us other humans feel bad for not being super-human 🙂
You GO girl!
No one does it perfectly, and we all have to do what we can, realistically, within the constraints of our budgets… not just financial budgets, but time and energy as well.
Food isn’t about STRESS, it’s about ENJOYMENT. I don’t put food on the table to be healthy, but to be ENJOYED, shared with my family. Of course, it’s best to be the healthiest food possible, but if it’s not enjoyed, there’s no point to it being healthy – no food nourishes if it’s not eaten.
And there’s no point for ME unless I enjoy it too. I LIKE feeding people. This is something I do for my own pleasure.