How to eat clean on a budget - Part 1
We continue down the road of awakening to the fact that we really are what we eat. The extremely high cost of eating a processed, nutrient light diet of pure refined carbohydrates or other adulterated foods that satisfy some taste buds but do nothing to feed our bodies, that ends up in early death, obesity, diabetes or a general lack of health with a weakened immune system. We look to other foods that can nourish our bodies and feed our souls while just possibly healing our planet. My goal in this series is to discuss the ways of not only eating a diet that can heal your body and the planet but to do so without breaking the bank.
One of the biggest challenges to a clean diet. Well even before I go there it might be good for me to describe what I mean by clean in terms of diet. The first attribute of a clean diet is as few toxins as possible. Toxins can come in many forms but I define them as anything unnecessary in the food. We have antibiotics and hormones from livestock, it can be herbicides and pesticides in fruits, vegetables and meat from farming practices, it can be chemicals from processing, flavor enhancers, fortifiers, stabilizers and a long list of (my opinion) junk in our food that our bodies don't really need. I also lump in the fact that we eat too highly processed foods in our diets to end up with an unclean diet. A couple examples of that are sugars and carbohydrates. In nature just about everywhere God puts a lot of sugar, he puts a lot of fibre. But we as humans "process" the fibre out of the sugar and end up eating an almost pure sugar diet. Take the fructose in an apple, it is complete surrounded in a case of the fibrous apple pulp. But we squeeze the apple to get the juice and more often than not drink Apple cider rather eat an apple, same with oranges, grapes etc. Fruit juice is way more popular than fruit. We miss all the fiber that balances out the sugars. Same happens with carbohydrates. We eat highly refined pure white flours with the fiber attached. So the point of this little distraction in the definition of clean is to not only eat foods that are as toxic free as we can find them. Eat foods that are as unrefined as you can find them as well.
I guess I should say here I am not a nutritionist. But I have over 60+ years of eating experience and notice how my body reacts to different foods both in how I feel and how my weight and immune system react to different foods. I read a lot on this subject as well. Now let's get back to the challenges of eating a clean diet.
The number one challenge is the government is not your friend. I am going to choose to not get political here but the "food triangle" was developed by AG industry advocates and not nutritionists. Government food regulators typically come out of Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, Tyson or the like. The point is their interest is typically self serving. Sure they say they want to provide a safe food supply. But how do they define safe. They out law raw milk because if not handled properly it can develop bacteria that can cause illness. So they make it impossible to get. But they legislate as an alternative ultra pasteurized milk that has no flavor, no vitamins, no beneficial bacteria, low or no food value. This isn't a research paper so I will not enumerate all the different ways a well meaning government gets in the way of the nations health by enabling big AG to produce an adulterated product.
The second challenge to eating a clean diet is vocabulary. When business found out that you wanted clean food and would pay more they hijacked the vocabulary. In the case of eggs they developed words like cage-free and free range that at this point mean very little in the quality of the product you eat. Look at the word Organic. Organic standards continue to change to the point where they mean less and less all the time. You can have Organic eggs which at this point only means that the hens eat organic feed, it does not address the living conditions of the birds at all. It is coming to the point if you want to eat this clean diet you need to be an expert in each different field of agriculture. I will come back to the organic standard later in some of the solutions I propose on how to eat clean on a budget in further installments.
The third challenge is it is not convenient to find sources of clean food. Even if you know what all the labels mean, even if you know what you want to eat, finding it is a whole other ballgame. At one point we had grocery stores that provided us with clean foods, take Whole Foods as an example, they got bought out by Amazon and are put under immense pressure to perform to wall street standards. That just doesn't work in agriculture. Agriculture is just not that predictable. So we had a convenient source of some clean foods that has become suspect in some manner. Now you have to go back to reading every label and understanding what it means to protect yourself.
The fourth challenge is these clean foods are expensive. Take our farm for instance, we receive no government subsidies. Most government money is going to mega-farms and agro business that realizes you will pay more for clean foods. So they lobby to change standards that they can then meet but charge the same prices as we meed to stay in business. So if you are going to pay these high prices you my as well get what you paid for.
So what I hope to layout is some simple, common sense solutions to the high cost of buying clean foods. I will discuss the sources of trusted information on foods, when to buy, how to buy foods and store foods. This is really going to be simple. I will talk about the seasonality of food, the storage of food, and the questions to ask when buying food to make you a better shopper. Next week we will talk about the seasonality of food and hope to save money by buying during the plentiful harvest and storing the food yourself.