i swear i’m not a hippie

I’m feeling another experiment coming on. But, for now it’s just going to be a trend toward changing some habits. I’m talking about food. Real food…not the fake shit we all buy in boxes, plastic and cartons.

My friend Suzy has long been an advocate of healthy eating. Her background is in nutritional science, and she’s worked in the field for quite a while now. She’s spent a lot of time working with overweight children and their families, teaching them how to make healthy choices and lifestyle changes to reduce their risk of health problems. And, when I say healthy choices, we’re not talking about low calorie, low fat, low sodium, etc. All of those terms represent food that’s been processed…often beyond recognition of actual food. In other words…PUT DOWN THE DAMN CHIPS!

No, I’m referring to food that is real. Whole. Unprocessed. Unmodified. More and more of us are realizing the items we pull off our grocery shelves bear little resemblance to the foods they started out as in life. The labels have so many ingredients…most of them words that I can’t even pronounce. I think this increased awareness is evidenced by the popularity of farmer’s markets all over the country. SLC has enjoyed a booming downtown farmer’s market for years, and it gets bigger each season.

So, taking the lead from Suzy, I have been researching options in my area. There are so many ways to eat healthier, and you can really get extreme if you have the time, money and inclination to do so. I really want to focus on a couple small goals first. I think by making some simple changes in the way I purchase and consume food, I can build a foundation that will allow me to make some bigger changes down the road.

For now, I have decided to source the meat I use in my kitchen from local, grass-fed, free-range choices. This includes beef, chicken and pork. Sure, it’s more expensive, but I think in the long run paying more for higher quality meat makes sense. First, it encourages more reasonable meat consumption. If it’s more expensive, then budgets will move you to eat meat a bit more sparingly and incorporate more fresh vegetables into the mix. Second, it contributes to better health over the long-term, which should have a positive impact on spending in the future.

Another advantage I see to this approach is I’m getting a bit closer to my food. I really started thinking about this when I read this article in the Salt Lake Tribune. The writer decries local hunters and insinuates they are out killing God’s precious creatures. Then he suggests hunters save money by purchasing their meat from the local grocery store. His logic was so flawed, it prompted me to write this response.

I’m realizing we are all so removed from the sources of our food, and as a result we make really bad choices about what we put into our bodies. We rely on mass food producers and the government to tell us what is safe or healthy, but those very sources are really just in it for the money…not our health.

I visited Utah Natural Meat this weekend. This snall farm supplies local, grass-fed beef and free-range poultry, and doesn’t use any hormones or antibiotics. They are also one of the few licensed sources of raw milk in the state. I met the family who runs the farm…the actual people responsible for raising the food I purchased. It’s an interesting experience to be that close to it. I hear people question the “organic” and “free-range” labels on meat in the markets; how can we really be sure they’re telling the truth? I think I found the answer. Get to know the people raising your meat. You’ll build a sense of trust, and you’ll know the quality they advertise is for real.

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4 responses to “i swear i’m not a hippie

  1. I finally got a chance to read this. That is so great that you met the farmer that is raising the food that you eat. More transparency like that is important to ensure your food is grown/treated well. At the moment I am relying on the supermarket and restaurants to feed me, but hopefully in about a week things won’t be quite so hectic and I can pursue more local again. I will however be ordering Thanksgiving turkey from a local farm. It meets its demise the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so it is very fresh and has had a good life up until that point.

    • I hadn’t found this farm in time to get a turkey; however, I am on their list in case someone doesn’t come get their bird. Mine will be frozen, though, as they freeze them as soon as a pickup is missed. But, still local, humanely treated and free range. So, still better than a water and salt filled Butterball.

  2. I didn’t read Dan’s opinion piece but I read your reply and it was fantastic. I’m sure you’ve already seen Food Inc. but if not, you must watch it. It totally changed my outlook on food. I try to eat way more vegetarian meals now, and I buy organic every chance I can. Mr. W and I have even talked about trying to get a deep freeze freezer so we can buy grass-fed meat online and store it. But like you, we should just investigate and find a local supplier. I think there might be a cool new organic butcher right in Hollywood. Thanks for the reminder that we need to check it out!

    • There are a lot of good resources out there. Even in your locale, I bet there’s some local farms where you can find what you need. The farm I use does ship, although they encourage you to find a local source if you can. Just spend some time with the google, and I’m sure you’ll find some good stuff! Good luck!

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