When we challenged readers of mb.com to win a copy of Food Matters by telling us stories, I had no idea how varied, wonderful, and downright inspiring these stories would be. (You can read through them here if you like.)
Choosing three wasn’t easy, but these are my three favorites. (Winners: please email your snail mail address to email@example.com and we’ll get them in the mail.)
Stay tuned. We’ll be giving away more How to Cook Everything i-phone apps and some copies of How to Cook Everything this week.
Well, I’ve always been a little tree-hugger — that was one of my many childhood nicknames. I’ve also been vegetarian off and on since high school. But, the lessmeatarianism has allowed me to let go of the guilt behind eating meat. Now, I only eat meat if I know where it came from — whether it’s free range or wild game, I don’t beat myself up over it since I know it’s responsibly sourced. My meat-eating was always a contentious point with family — my grandfather is a retired butcher and meat inspector, while my husband is from the Midwest and enjoys meat to a large degree. So, my compromise has made things easier in a sense.
But, it’s also made my family and friends more aware of food issues and the environment. My grandfather and I talk about how things used to be and how they are now; my husband’s more aware of how much meat he eats, as is my sister who lives with us. And since eating a free-range chicken alone is impossible, they’ve incorporated better-sourced meat into their diets, too. So, the people around me have become more aware.
I think that’s the biggest benefit of my diet right now — it allows me to talk to people about it in a way that they don’t find threatening (for some reason, my vegetarianism always put people on the defensive). It seems like my diet is helping in a more exponential way, too — every time someone learns about the way I eat, or has a meal at our house, they learn about what traditional meat-centered diets do not only to our health, but also the planet, making them more aware of their role in supporting industrial agriculture.
The best part of reducing processed, refined and junk foods and introducing healthier foods is the change I see in my mom. Since I’ve returned home and have been living with my parents, I’ve introduced the idea of more wholesome, thoughtful cooking to their diet. I never realized that they were in a dietary rut – eating the same things every week, relying on processed foods, and certainly not getting enough vegetables and protein. They were somewhat lethargic and frankly, I don’t think they were enjoying cooking meals and eating them.
Since my being back, my mom and I have been spending more time together, cooking everything from vegetable stock and granola snacks to vegetarian stir-fries and fresh pasta. The combination of her years of cooking and my drive to try new things means we’re churning new dishes on a daily basis – Dishes with more vegetables and vegetarian proteins. Dishes of which we proudly say we know all the ingredients. Dishes that give us energy rather than take it away.
My dad is trying foods he’s never before tasted and seeing his reactions is instantly gratifying. He actually talks about flavour explosions and sometimes breaks into spontaneous laughter during a meal. To see a man in his 60s have these reactions is priceless. But mostly I like the change I see in my mom. She’s got more energy. She’s running more. And I swear she’s smiling more too. And as a daughter who’s been nurtured by this person her whole life, this may be the ultimate gift.
Our journey started about 3 or so years ago when we both decided to go on a ‘diet’ and track what we were eating. The amount of sodium in our diet astounded us. We decided to cut back and this lead to us eating much less processed foods.
As time went on, we became interested in eating more local, naturally grown fruits and vegetables, joining a local farm coop.
In the past year, in an effort to eat all those vegetables, save money (since meat is expensive) and eat healthier, we’ve made at least half our weekly meals vegetarian (or vegan).
Two Christmas’s ago, I bought my husband ‘How to Cook Everything’ and ‘How to Cook Everything Vegetarian’ to help us.
We pick our recipes from online sources or, generally, one of the two ‘Everything’ books. Sometimes we mix it up with a Julia Child recipe if we’re feeling a butter craving.
We plan on joining a meat coop in the near future, after a purchase of a chest refrigerator. We moved into our first house this winter and already have seeds for lima beans, basil, rosemary, sunflowers, tomatoes and other garden necessities. We just have to till the ground and get the seedlings started. It’s time to plant in Massachusetts!
I’m currently reading Michael Pollen’s ‘In Defense of Food’ and would love to read your ‘Food Matters’ as well. Well, maybe after I finish ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’.