I have always enjoyed having a garden and the idea of raising a lot of our own food. I have also long appreciated eating healthy foods and I have tried to have foods to serve my family that are good for them.
I suppose some may have even found me radical in those areas. However I did not find myself radical and I didn't really want to radical, at least not in the health food area. I knew people that were radical and I just didn't quite want to go there. I didn't feel that we could afford it and buying organic just seemed a little unnecessary to me and a step that I wasn't quite willing to take. I did try to grow my food organically but we still are not able to grow ALL our food so we do have to buy a fair amount still.
You may have guessed from reading the above that my ideas are changing a bit. I am feeling a bit more radical in my desire to feed my family healthy food. A while back I signed up for an online Healthy Living Summit which introduced to me some more information about things like GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and then I have gone on to read "Seeds of Deception" by Jeffrey Smith and "The Unhealthy Truth" by Robyn O'Brien which have given me even more information on the subject.
I had heard about GMO's before and my thought was that I would like to avoid them if possible but I thought because we don't buy much processed food, we try to eat pretty healthy and we even grow a lot of our own food and buy grass fed natural beef and drink milk from my parents goats a lot of time that we were probably pretty good. Sure we might be eating them every so often but over all we were doing pretty good. And yes, in comparison with the average American we probably are doing pretty good but after reading those books and really looking with an open eye to what foods we are buying and eating I was quite unpleasantly surprised.
GMO's are in almost EVERYTHING! I am not going to go into all the reasons that GMO's aren't good for you as that would make for a very loooooong post and also I am not an expert on the matter and I don't want to miss speak but I do recommend checking out these books (and others that you can find) on the subject and reading them for yourself. Part of the problem about GMO's is not all the things that we know positively to be bad but all the things that we don't know as far as long term effects and more as the testing on them simply wasn't done before they were put on the market. As of now the Corn, Soybeans, Canola (and we have used a lot of this oil in the past!), Cottonseed, Beet Sugar and Aspartame grown in our country the majority of those crops are GMO. Like 80 to 90 percent. (Here is more information about avoiding GMOs)
Do you realize just how much Corn and Soy are in things that are processed in our country? Here are some of the processed things that we were still buying that I found them in: Mayonaise, Pasta (just plain dry pasta), peanut butter, salad dressings, spaghetti sauce, ice cream, jam, sugar, ketchup and more. So far pretty much the only purchased processed food on our shelf that I found to be safe was the Great Value salsa that we buy from Walmart.
The other thing that I have been reading about is rBST (or rBGH - recombinant bovine growth hormone) which is given to dairy cows to help them produce more milk. The only problem is that it often causes the cows to also get Mastitis which then causes them to be put on antibiotics which means that not only are we getting milk that has rBST in it (not good!) our milk also has antibiotics in it (Oh yes it goes through the milk!), and pus in it as that is something that Mastitis causes. I have heard about this before and seen milk available the was rBST free but then noticed on the milk jug that it also said that rBST was safe and there wasn't any known difference between milk without it or not (Baloney!). That is put on there because a company called Monsanto (who makes the hormone, modify our seeds and were the creators of Agent orange and many other "lovely" chemicals) were able to lobby to make it so it was illegal to call it rBST free without the disclaimer.
I had thought in the past that it would be nice to avoid that sort of milk if possible but I didn't worry about it to much because much of the year the kids and I (Ken still buys and drinks cows milk) drink Goat's milk from my parents which is NOT treated with any such hormone. We are so grateful to be able to get milk from them!!! Also when I have been able to find a source I have bought hormone free raw cows milk whenever possible for both Ken all the time and the rest of us in the season when the goats are dry. We don't currently have a source for raw cows milk however so we had been just been buying Ken's milk at the nearby gas station where it was the cheapest. It also, when I checked to be sure, is not rBST free.
But this goes beyond milk.... We also love our butter and our cheese and we enjoy ice cream too for that matter! Actually we think about any dairy product tastes good. I have always made a little cheese when my parents had a lot of extra milk but never enough to supply all our desire for it - and in the past I had never made the type that we liked the best either.
Thinking about these food issues was a little discouraging I will admit. The things I read really do make me want to get these foods out of our house as much as possible. I still feel strongly about eating what is put before you without question when we are in a situation such as eating at someone's house or even going to a potluck meal and I don't intend to make my kids feel like they are deprived so that in the end they rebel and try to avoid healthy food altogether- but at our home I would like to serve my family what it truly good for them.
So what to do????
I am a person who likes action. I like to have a plan and get things done. There is no sense sitting around and wishing things were different.
First of all - there is no need for me to worry about it. Worry doesn't help anything. Here is what Jesus said on the very subject of food:
"For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are they not worth much more than they?" Matthew 6:25 & 26
I could of course simply buy all those problem foods in organic instead. Non GMO foods are available in the store, you simply have to look harder and you have to generally pay a LOT more. I could possibly do that, and I will probably do that with some items but overall we just don't have the money to feed a growing family of 6 in that way.
So here is the plan: (for us)
- Don't worry and thank God for all the good things He has blessed us with!
- Continue with gardening (using non-GMO seeds which I already did) only figure out ways to grow even more. Our property isn't filled with gardens yet. We have room for more and I have 4 hard working children available to help me.
- Continue to keep bees so that we can eat honey instead of sugar. I am thinking that going up to a 3rd hive might be in our near future.
- Continue to render the tallow from our grass fed beef to use in place of oil and also look for other natural, non-GMO and economical sources of oil.
- Learn to make more kinds of cheese. Also check on a cheese source that I was told about that sold bulk cheese to see if they are rBST free.
- Continue to look for a source of raw, hormone free cows milk and cream. Maybe someday figure out a way to raise one ourselves.
- Continue to grow our own corn (both sweet and dry) and try to avoid buying it.
- Learn how to make from scratch the processed foods that we have been still buying. (Does anybody have a good recipe for French dressing?) Some foods I have made in the past but it was either a fair amount of work (like pasta) or we weren't quite satisfied with the result (like ketchup), I will keep trying.
- Learn to live without some things, or at least use them less.
- Eat even more wild/gathered foods. Those aren't genetically modified thankfully and there are lots of them out there able to provide much of our food if we simply educate ourselves about them and take time to gather them. Gathering is really fun too - spending time in God's great outdoors is a winner in my book! Our challenge of eating at least something we gathered every day is going well. We have been eating cattails in more ways than we ever have before. So fun!!
These thoughts are part of the conversation that has been going on around here. Some of the things I don't know if I will be ever able to fully get rid of as I am not the only adult around here (Thank God!) and the other adult would kind of prefer to ignore the situation of unhealthy food but we do what we can with the situation we are in.