I have been wracking my brain in the past year, trying to figure out what went wrong.
We moved from England three years ago. Both my husband and I were of a healthy weight and without any medical conditions. We never changed our eating habits as such and we live a very similar lifestyle we did in Europe. I spend most of my days outdoors, I go to the gym and I took up running last year. Yet I have put on 40 pounds! I have terrible insomnia and I was asked by an older lady on Monday if Little J was my grandson! For the record: I am turning 35 this month.
We eat at least our 5 vegetables and fruits a day. My husband cooks dinner from scratch every evening and during the day I make healthy choices for Little J and I. We even cook for our dog every single day! If you open our fridge and pantry most products are labeled healthy, natural, low fat. We don’t buy any frozen food and we always choose fancy chocolates and desserts. I really thought we were doing well.
Initially I blamed my weight gain on my business and blogging. On most evenings when I put Little J to bed I edit photo sessions and catch up on blog reading and I might be snacking somewhere along the way. So I forced myself to walk away from the computer by 9PM every day. And no food after dinner.
I thought maybe I didn’t exercise enough. So I started going to the gym 5 times a week and got a personal trainer. That is in edition to riding, running and hiking with the boys. No weight loss.
Honestly I felt like such a looser. I always suspected food in US supermarkets is different then what we used to eat before. It looks and tastes similar, but the shelf life is 5 times longer. The packaging has a lot of misleading labels such as fat free, natural, sugar free. And most of the ingredients are unpronounceable. No matter how hard I might look for something that looks right and reminds me of the food I grew up eating, there is not much in the supermarket.
When I was Little J’s age milk went bad in 3 days. We brought bread at the bakery daily, because it was rock hard in a day or two. Yogurts lasted a few days, meat was cut for us at the butchers and grandma prepared it the same day. Cherries were in stores in May, strawberries in June, other berries in the summer and apples in autumn. We got oranges for Christmas because eating fruit in winter was a special treat. There were no salads in store in winter so we ate canned beetroot and pickles until our lips turned white from all the vinegar. All food was a treat, not just dessert. I looked forward to different seasons that brought variety to the table.
My son eats raspberries every day. We have a farm on the island where we pick them in the summer. The other day we drove by and he asked me how come the supermarket still has that many left if raspberry farm closed in autumn. Honestly, I don’t know. I have no idea where our food comes from. No idea who makes it and what on earth they put in it.
The truth is I am not one for diets and label reading and researching if the cows that made my milk are pumped with drugs and fed corn. My husband joked not long ago that we drive by a pasture full of sheep, but there is never any lamb at our supermarket. That made me think. I know that farmers in our area treat the animals humanely. I know they all graze and live outdoors. I see them with my own eyes. So why am I buying a generic brand at the supermarket??!
So starting today we decided to eat only what we can see around us. What farmers have grown on our island, what small family owned business have produced in our state. It took me only an hour of googling to find:
– someone to deliver fresh milk and bread to my door every week
– someone to prepare a box of locally grown vegetables for weekly pick up
– someone who makes fresh gourmet cheeses on the island from happy, free roaming goats
– farm that raises and sells beef, pork and lamb. All fed exclusively on their own grown feed.
– fresh, free range eggs minutes away from my home
– a local beekeeper that makes amazing honey
– locally sourced and milled flour
– a place to buy daily catch from the ocean
I know we are lucky to live on an island where we have all these available. But before I took the time to find them, I thought farmers market in the summer is the only way to eat local food. I am not saying this is the key to our health, but I strongly feel it is a step in the right direction. If you have the time, look for what is available in your area. Support the local growers and producers. Frequent only restaurants that are supplied by local farmers. I can assure you that everything we will be buying from now on is not significantly more expensive then similar items in the supermarket. We cut out the middleman, transportation and packaging and I am happy to pay that difference to the farmer herself.
I will keep you posted on our journey to eating real food again. If you live close to me and want to know who I am buying these from, leave a comment. I will happily send you the information.
Here are the wonderful farmers in my neighborhood:
If you have an hour to spare, this documentary (Hungry for Change) is worth your time. Here is a trailer: