Monday, March 9, 2009

Thoughts | My Cooking Journey Part 2

Right, so last time I told you how I used to eat. Now I'll tell you why it started to change.

About two years ago: I (and a lot of other people) suddenly realized that I really should be trying to live in a more sustainable way. This is the point where I stopped using things like saran wrap and paper towel. I kind of realized that this should have something to do with food (eat less meat? Organic?) but there wasn't a lot I felt like I could do at that point.

September 2007: we moved from Lethbridge back to the Kootenays which is home to me. Also? There's a whole lot of gardening going on out here in the summers. I started thinking more about food security. I read Animal Vegetable Miracle, Echoholic and watched Jamie at Home. I became vaguely twitchy about the food industry. I found myself having a previously unheard of urge to garden. It was all very strange. Also I realized that I was a grown up now and should probably start canning my own food instead of just stealing it from my mom...

Last summer:
We spent the summer at my parent's farm. Craig got a summer job in the area and I took the summer off to focus on my graphic design/illustration work. And we learned about the garden. I learned to make jam (easy!), can, pressure can (still frightening!) and remembered that fresh homemade bread is a nice thing to have around. We were so surrounded by excellent food that summer than I managed to can and freeze a ton. Still eating some of it. I learned that really? I can do this self sufficiency thing.

This fall: I read In Defense of Food by Micheal Pollen. This gave me an extra push and I started systematically cutting out processed food. Starting with margarine and fat free yogurt. Breakfast cereal. White rice. I wasn't necessarily changing my cooking habits oh so much but I was changing the basic ingredients. Free range eggs. We mostly just ate the beef my parent grow on the farm for meat. I immediatly noticed a difference, I had more energy and started to lose weight. I lost almost 10 lbs last fall. Mostly by eating more fat. Well, and whole grains. Curiouser and curiouser.

This Winter:
This winter I came to a realization, the only way I could be sure of what was in our food, where it came from, and how it would affect our health, was by cooking as much of it from scratch as I could. I also decided to stop buying produce, dairy and meat from other countries. I think the globalization of food is a big problem, and while I can't fix it on my own, I decided to start walking the walk. This was a lot of work, but I had already made half the changes I needed to by putting up food over the summer.

I have never had so much fun with food. Not since I was a kid learning to make cookies. I'm experimenting with new vegetables (because I can't get peppers, but I can get celeriac!) new recipes. I had a quest to come up with the perfect whole wheat bread recipe. I'm learning to cook strange cuts of meat ( me roasts are strange), whole chickens. I'm learning to use more whole grains. I just learned to use dry beans. I can make ricotta. And crackers, and granola bars.

It's exciting.

So am I there yet? Not even close, this year I really want to get more into cheese making, yogurt, natural sweeteners. In the future? I hope we can get a place where we can garden. Get chickens. Maybe a goat...

So the moral of this story? Making little changes as you go is a good way to do things. Pay attention to what you are eating and why. Good food is always a journey, not a destination.