Monday, March 1, 2010

Real Food Challenge - week 4

Day #22: Why you should eat red meat.
Day #23: Pasture & Meadow. Eat your bacon, eggs and lard too.
Day #24: Homemade broth and stock.
Day #25: Not-so-awful Offal.
Day #26: Fish and seafood.
Day #27: Grow your foodshed.
Day #28: Beyond the challenge.

Why you should eat red meat
For many years I have been aware of the problems with our food supply, especially meat. If you are aware of it, you have to willfully ignore it when you eat it. For about 6 months, most of our meat has been purchased directly from the farmers that grew it. We still buy lunch meat, bags of chicken breasts and bacon now and then. It is difficult switching from old patterns. With the low fat craze, chicken became a staple in the American diet. Pastured chicken is more of a luxury than a staple. I have a whole chicken in my freezer that cost $18! I have so much broth, that I won't roast it until we make room for more broth. Buying meat this way is considerably more expensive. One thing I have noticed is that I am satisfied with eating a smaller portion. I'm sure that says something about the quality of the meat.

I liked the article about the nutrition in meat. My 6-year-old son is super picky. He'll eat ground beef, hamburgers and hotdogs but he won't eat stew meat or roast beef. It just doesn't look good to him. I held up a gallon jar and a coffee mug. I told him the coffee mug is meat and the gallon jar is vegetables. We all know there are lots of vitamins in vegetables. If you eat this much meat (coffee mug) you will get even more vitamins than all the vitmains in this much vegetables (gallon jar). He was quite impressed, but he is just not able to eat something he thinks is going to taste bad. All I can do is continue to offer it.

Eat your bacon, eggs and lard too
Our egg sources have been pastured for about a year. I was getting them from a family at church who live in an area that allows chickens. I think her egg production dropped off in winter. Now I get them from the farmers at my nutrition group. We eat about 1.5 dozen eggs a week. Sometimes we run low and have to buy the cage-free eggs from the grocery store. They seem to be equal in quality, but I don't really trust it. Buying directly from the chicken owner is totally different.

All of my meat sources carry beef and pork. Saturday I went to the Geneva Winter Market. Hasselmann Farms has good bacon prices but he was out of bacon. I bought the ham for Easter. Last week I cooked prok "steaks". I bought them because they seemed to be like pork chops but they were a little fattier and much less expensive. I could not believe how delicious they were!

Homemade broth and stock
I wish I could convince my family to eat more of it. This week 3 people in our family had a cough. I implored my husband to defrost the soup and sip it all day instead of tea. Soup is another thiing my son doesn't like. For many years I have tried all kinds of ways to make chicken soup. Long before I found traditional nutrition I was simmering chicken bones for broth. It took a lot of trial and error to figure out that is the best soup. If we buy a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, I always save the bones for soup. I also freeze bones, old celery and onion tops for making broth later. The Frugal Gourmet passed on the idea of saving the onion ends whenever an onion is chopped. Most people throw this stuff out but it can be made into wholesome food before throwing it away.

Not-so-awful Offal
I like offal for the novelty as well as the nutrition. I like to fry up a chicken liver to have with eggs in the morning. Sometimes I get so fed up with my son's complaining about normal food, I make liver, heart or oxtails just to really push his button! I picked up some chicken heads and feet from the Amish at the WAPF conference. I showed them to my kids because gross things don't freak them out. One time I was making broth and talking to my husband. He looked into the pot right as a head floated by. He got so freaked out, I had to laugh! It is sort of a Halloween thing to see a head or a chicken foot floating in soup.

My mom grew up on a farm near Winnipeg. Her parents were German Mennonite immigrants from the Ukraine. They had dairy cows, pigs and chickens. It has been very interesting hearing how her parents grew and preserved food using traditional methods. She told me that they put beef hearts in a huge steintopf and covered them with whey. She enjoyed head cheese, liver, heart and other offal. They ate chicken about once a month. My grandmother would slaughter a hen if she thought it wasn't laying. Sometimes she would find eggs inside the chicken in various states of development. She would be so sorry because this one was laying. She gathered those small yolks and made a cake with them. That one chicken, along with side dishes, fed all 8 people in her family. She roasted the head and feet. Oma liked the head very much. My Aunt Mary's favorite part of the chicken is the neck, because she usually ended up with that part at dinner.

Fish and seafood
We don't eat much fish, though I enjoy it. Lake Michigan is very close but people where I live don't eat the fish from it. It is considered a dangerous thing to do. How sad is that? Just this week we had salmon from Costco. I'm pretty sure it was farmed fish, which is not the best nutritional or environmental choice. This is really tough. I keep reading about overfishing and pollutants in the fish.

Grow your foodshed & Beyond the challenge
This was a fun experience. I enjoyed receiving the emails and trying new things. I have an update on the sauerkraut and the cheesemaking. I'll have to post it a little later when I have more time. I should have posted more pictures. As you can tell, I don't get around to blogging much.
Going forward, I plan to continue doing what I've been doing. I'm looking forward to spring and planting my garden. I haven't planned what I'll grow yet, but it always works out. I'm inspired by the people at my Traditional Nutrition club.

Here's the checklist
  • Stay Natural & Unrefined. Eat only natural, whole foods in their unrefined state.
  • Avoid Modern, Processed Foods. Avoid processed, packaged, refined foods even those sold as "natural" foods. If you're great-great-great-great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize it, don't eat it.
  • Sour, sprout or soak. If you eat grain, beans, legumes, nuts or seeds, make sure that you properly prepare them to maximize your body's ability to assimilate their nutrients.
  • Love healthy fats. Enjoy wholesome, healthy, unrefined natural fats liberally - and especially on your vegetables.
  • Brew mineral-rich stock. Make homemade, mineral-rich broth and stock weekly, and consume it daily.
  • Eat grass-fed, pasture-raised and wild-caught. Eat meat, including offal, and make sure it's from a trusted source that relies on traditional methods of raising their animals: on fresh pasture.
  • Keep dairy raw and fresh. If you eat dairy, keep it raw or, at the very least, make sure it comes from grass-fed animals and is not subject to ultra-high-temperature pasteurization.
  • Get Your Good Bacteria. Consume naturally fermented, probiotic foods and beverages daily.
  • Get involved. Grow your foodshed and give back to the community. Fight for farmers and consumers rights and against the industrialization of our food supply.
  • Maximize nutrient density of your foods by preparing and consuming them with time-honored tradition.

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