Monday, February 7, 2011

Feeling Better

Getting some of my anxieties written down last night has really helped me to relax a bit today. Part of it may be that tomorrow we'll be going shopping, but I found that I wasn't hungry between meals today, and I didn't fret about having a little snack. On the other hand, we were kind of bad locavores today. I ate some of our "medicinal" oyster crackers*, and the Bear cooked tonight's hamburger with a bit of olive oil. And we figured out (embarrassingly belatedly) that Tofutti Cuties are not actually local. At least we bought them at a locally-owned grocery store.

Today's breakfast was oatmeal with brown sugar from Bob's Red Mill. Lunch was a couple of boiled eggs from a NW farm. I had some oyster crackers and a Washington apple, and for dinner we had cheeseburgers on Oregon Grain bread from Naturebake, with Tillamook cheese and beef from Eastern Oregon, with some frozen Oregon veggies on the side. Absolutely yummy, for about $2.50 each. Rough estimate for our daily total is about $8.

Basically, we've gotten through the first week pretty well. We have a lot of the staple foods we bought last Tuesday left over, as well as some eggs and vegetables. I feel more secure, knowing that. And I'm looking forward to, rather than dreading, the rest of the experiment.


*We both had upset tummies on Saturday, probably due to abrupt rise in fiber and butter intake, so we got some saltines and oyster crackers, as well as some ginger ale. No local crackers, but at least the soda was made in Oregon. Also, we put this down as medicinal expenses, rather than food. Kind of cheaty? Maybe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Your Mileage May Vary

Bear and I are having very different experiences as we commence the first experiment. I'm finding myself very anxious, even fearful about our food. For me, this has rapidly become about what we can't have - about restrictions and fear, rather than about positive changes and freedom. I find myself thinking about food all the time, fretting about the next meal rather than looking forward to it.

It's been many years, but there was a stretch of time when, working full time at minimum wage, I didn't have enough money to pay rent and bills and buy groceries. There were times when I scrounged through the apartment looking for enough spare change to buy a pack of ramen noodles. There were a couple of times when I was desperate enough to go to a local food bank. They wanted to know what I was going to do differently so as not to require their assistance, and they weren't particularly kind about it. When I look back over the last twenty years, this was definitely a very low point.

Being on a very strict budget now brings back a lot of the old fear, to an extent that I never would have expected. Despite the fact that I can say "to heck with this" at any time, the $70 per week feels like a very real limit. Bear sees this as an experiment. I realized that I see this as a personal challenge, which means that the outcome of this experiment for me is not a yes or no answers to questions we're asking, it's a matter of will I succeed or will I fail?

So, naturally I find this to be a bit more fraught, more frightening.

We're eating better, more healthy food than we have for a while. I've cut my sugar intake by about half, and we've probably doubled the fiber in our diets. We're eating really good, whole foods, and a lot less processed food (although we've got some Tofutti Cuties in the freezer right now). And hilariously, I find myself craving all the fruits and vegetables that we can't get right now grown in Oregon and Washington. Putting them on the nuh-uh list makes me want 'em pretty bad.

I find myself hungry more often, but that just may be due to the illusion of scarcity. Really, there's a lot of good things to eat in the kitchen and no threat of going hungry. I'm too conscious of our limits to snack and risk running out of food before each week is over. I'm pretty sure that this particular fear is going to fade as the days go by.

One of the reasons I wanted to do this is to explore my relationship with food. The last few days have given me plenty to think about. And I promise to be more cheerful in the very near future.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bob's Red Mill - An Amazing Local Food Resource

Bob's Red Mill is an example of all the best things that a local business can be. A while back, Bob Moore (the founder) announced that the company was initiating an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, effectively transferring ownership of the company to the employees. While this wasn't a gift to the employees, the Moores are doing something wonderful with some of the proceeds: they are donating five million dollars to Oregon State University to create a program focused on food issues and healthy eating.

Bob's Red Mill makes some really great products. I'm personally addicted to the veggie soup mix and their polenta.

If all businesses acted with the same amount of responsibility towards their employees and to the communities we live in, the world would be a far better place for all of us.

A shout out goes to Isaac Laquedem for posting this story.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Introductions are in Order

My New Year's resolution was to explore my relationship to food.

It seemed like a better resolution to make than the usual "I'm going to lose twenty pounds."

'Cause really, I need to lose something more like forty pounds.

I'm about to be 40. I was raised by parents who grew up during the depression, so food during my childhood was hearty, and I was encouraged to clean my plate. Children starving in China, you know. Sadly, I wasn't encouraged to exercise. I've spent my adulthood trying to figure out how to eat healthy and get exercise, coming at it from a variety of different angles.

It seems like the more I learn, the less I know.

There are so many interpretations and fads about eating that it's hard to know what's right and what's wrong: low-carb, low-fat, paleolithic, atkins, south beach, and on and on. I like Michael Pollan's food rules, because they're so simple. I still struggle, though.

So, this year I am going to read and read and study and come at this from a new angle. And my mantra is "Another day, another chance to be healthy." I'm armed with a membership to the local gym, and a stack of books about local, healthy food and food systems. I'll share what I find and figure out here.

My partner and I plan to have a series of experiments and adventures over the course of the year. We'll tell you more soon.