It has been said that you can see where a person’s priorities are by looking at their pocketbook. Grocery stores and restaurants (especially fast food and chain restaurants) in America are booming, even in what most consider to be a recession. How is that possible? Because Americans are addicted to food and most are producing nothing themselves. This is not new information and you probably wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t agree. These businesses are thriving because they provide what people want to buy. From the looks of it, that means largely processed convenience foods.
I believe that part of America’s obsession with food stems from an “I need” mentality that is capitalized upon by the food corporations. They want you to open your fully packed fridge and stocked cupboards and choose to order take-out because nothing “sounds good”.
Several years ago, my family was certainly no exception. We enjoyed much of what food companies had to offer and our waistlines showed it. We knew we had to eat healthier. In what I call our suburban homesteading years (before we left the city for a full-time rural homestead life), we did things like bake our own bread and focus on eating more whole foods. But it was always a struggle because the grocery stores and restaurants held a strong draw. After all, the food companies have made it their business to learn how to get their customers addicted to their products.
I used to love grocery shopping. It was fun for me to peruse the aisles and see what appetizing new items were available. I’ve enjoyed cooking since I was a little girl and I love experiencing new flavors. I used to roam the store aisles, deciding what sounded good for dinner. My husband’s love for food was evident in his lunch visits to restaurants and take-out trips for dinner. About twice a week, he would call on his way home from work. It usually went something like this. “Hey, how are you? What’s for dinner?” Even if I had something ready to fix, my response was usually vague because I knew that by asking this question, he was really saying that he wanted to get take-out. A wife would have to be crazy to say no to an already perfectly prepared delicious dinner. One that everyone would eat! Right?! At least that’s what I told myself when I knew that it was unhealthy and only adding to our growing waistlines.
Fast forward all these years later and my trips to the grocery stores are very infrequent. I’m talking several weeks to a couple months before I set foot in a store. Our restaurant and take-out trips are non-existent. The only time I have been in a restaurant in the last year was for my anniversary! We are done with America’s food obsession! The sole reason for this was our deliberate choice to live a rural homesteading life, but many things happened as a result of that choice.
Living Free From the Food Companies
- We produce our own food.
We are excited that we have finally gotten to the point on our homestead that we are achieving one of our primary goals. Food production is so important in our journey to be self-sufficient. We had a very large garden over the summer and grew a large amount of produce. We have a large flock of chickens that we use for meat and eggs. We have sheep that we butcher ourselves. We hunt deer on our property as well. We no longer have the need to purchase meat or vegetables. The only thing we lack is a milk cow, which is only a matter of time. Butter and cheese are currently some of the few things we purchase regularly.
- We have learned to enjoy real food.
The processed stuff just doesn’t hold much taste appeal to us anymore because we are no longer addicted to it. Once your body gets used to the real thing and the processed food chemicals get out of your system, you really don’t crave it anymore. There really is nothing better than a fresh peach during that perfect time of the summer when you can buy them by the bushel straight from the orchard. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! I feel like a food snob when I say that I have never tasted any tortilla better than my mom’s tortillas. They are so delicious made with only flour (we mill ourselves), olive oil, water and salt. Every other tortilla tastes like cardboard to me!
- We have preserved the harvest.
I’m writing this in December after the hard work of the summer and fall is over. Our pantry is fully stocked with all kinds of canned produce from our garden, as well as canned chicken and lamb. We have also stored potatoes and all kinds of winter squash.
- We have learned to eat seasonally.
Food tastes best and is most affordable (especially when you grow it yourself) during the time of year that it is harvested in your area. I look forward all year to the first harvest of our garden tomatoes in the summer. They are so worth the wait! We eat from our garden in the late spring, summer and early fall. It is a large part of our diet that time of year. In the other months of the year, we eat the food we have preserved. In order to not waste anything, we only eat canned food when the fresh produce is gone.
- We stock up on dry goods and bulk items.
We do all our own baking so we stock up on wheat berries and other necessary baking ingredients. I also stock several months supply of things like rice, pasta, coffee, olive oil, coconut oil, and peanut butter. I will take you through my pantry in another article.
- We have weekly treats.
My husband will often bring home “treats” when he goes into town once a week. This provides us more variety and we look forward to a special meal together! He recently found medjool dates in our little country supermarket. He knows that they are one of my favorite foods. If you have never tried them, you are missing out. They are right up there with chocolate for me!
- Grocery stores and restaurants are far away.
We live a half an hour from any grocery store or restaurant and there is certainly no delivery. Convenience food is no longer convenient if I have to travel half an hour to get it and then half an hour to get back home. It’s just not worth it! When my family is begging to be fed, it’s easier to fix a simple meal at home.
- We have a green house.
It houses an aquaponics system that we use to grow a few fresh things to supplement our diet in the winter. Right now (December) we are growing vegetables that can handle cooler temperatures like broccoli, cabbage, spinach and lettuce. We also grow sprouts in the kitchen during the winter.
- We have learned to eat simple home cooked meals.
Food is no longer an obsession. Food is just food! It can be enjoyable, but at it’s most basic purpose, it is sustenance. In order to live my life, I’ve had to make food less important in my life. And many times that means a simply prepared meal. But simple food can still be delicious and certainly more nourishing than any processed fare. Garden salad with a serving of cornbread. Rice and beans topped with cheese and salsa. Homemade chicken noodle soup made quickly with canned chicken and chicken stock. I believe that part of America’s obsession with food stems from an “I need” mentality that is capitalized upon by the food corporations. They want you to open your fully packed fridge and stocked cupboards and choose to order take-out because nothing “sounds good”. Real food fixed simply really can be faster than take-out and certainly much better for you.
This is my family today. We’ve grown in number, but our waistlines are no longer growing. They have actually shrunk significantly! My husband and I are both many sizes smaller than we used to be. Our rural homestead life has been good for us! Growing, raising, preserving and cooking our own food is so worth it. It took time, a lot of praying and planning, and doing without many conveniences to get where we are today. But when I remember how far we’ve come, I’m so thankful! We are done with the American food obsession.