At last week’s LLL meeting, a first-time pregnant mama was there to get information about breast feeding. It reminded me of how recently I was in that exact same position, and how sad it makes me that most women in the US have little to no experience with nursing before they become pregnant. I think it’s great that La Leche League is there, but I wish breastfeeding was a normal part of everyone’s life so women didn’t have to go to a special group to see it in action or get their questions answered.
But then, most Americans are divorced from the reality of all our food — its sources, unsustainability, and the lack of research on its implications for our health — so it’s no wonder that most people find nothing scary about powdered “milk” (plus more than 45 other things) in a can (some of which is being recalled, by the way, for containing beetle parts). We are a country of consumers and we are spoon fed propaganda that leads those of us who don’t learn more to believe there is nothing wrong with our food chain. We’re stuck in The Meatrix:
No wonder it’s so hard for women to successfully nurse for the recommended amount of time, when the normal for most Americans’ food is that it somehow magically appears on our grocery store shelves without any thought to source. Now I feel like “doing milk” (as we sign it around here) is an old hat, but there are always new challenges.
In our household, we try to get our food as close to the source as possible. We have gotten our veggies from a CSA for three years now, and in past years I canned and froze large amounts for winter consumption. While living in New York, we were buying only Hudson Valley milk, eggs, and cheese. We don’t buy tropical fruits, especially not bananas, and we try to eat in season. Since moving to Nantucket, we’ve been facing the realities of island living and trying to adjust our grocery buying habits to new challenges of cost and less varied local production (alas, there is no Nantucket equivalent to Ronnybrook). It’s been interesting this summer — we had some unexpected challenges (like having picked a crappy CSA) but we made it through, and now I’m starting to think about what out diet will be like over the winter and next summer.
This summer was a big one for us. We went from occasionally offering Nora plain, pureed vegetables to finger food and at least three meals per day.
Even though I think I’m pretty good at feeding myself a balanced diet, I’ll admit that it’s not always that varied (as in, Chris making a big pot of chili so I can eat it for both lunch and dinner 5 days in a row would be just fine by me) and I don’t often plan in advance. The lack of planning this summer often meant scrambling around dinner time and it also meant we ate a lot of roasted veggies. Roasted veggies with rice and beans, roasted veggies with pasta, roasted veggies with eggs, roasted veggies on salad…it provided all of the nutrients we needed, but it tasted (and felt) pretty much the same day in and day out. I’ve said before that I don’t want Nora to become a picky eater, and now that she knows how to say no, it’s time to make sure that she is exposed to as many different flavors and textures as possible. So with that in mind, I’m loosening up some of my food rules to make sure that she’s not just eating the same few things over and over, and I’m committing to my 6th housewife challenge: plan and cook complete, varied meals.
(Mostly when we stuff ourselves silly at Chris’ restaurant.)
We’re still going to eat in season — no January tomatoes for us, thank you — and emphasize local food over food with an airplane, boat, and truck carbon foot print…but we’re going to be a little bit more flexible on that one. I still won’t buy produce (bananas!) that requires a passport, but this winter we’ll be a little bit less harsh about California and Florida (since I wasn’t able to put anything up this summer). We’re going to buy things like tofu and fish more often, because Nora loves them. But the biggest difference is that I’m going to make a point to stock and use things which help turn all of our vegetables into meals with a different flavor: ginger, miso, avocado, Asian sauces, Indian spices. And, I’m going to plan meals a week in advance, before I go to the grocery store. That’s the challenging part.
I started this week for my grandma’s visit, and I have to say, I forgot how much fun it was to try new recipes. Last week, Nora and I went and picked some wild concord grapes,
which were so delicious and amazing — and nothing like the bland, tasteless things they call grapes at the grocery store — and I had a lot of fun digging up recipes for them. We had grape and apple fruit salad, grapes with home-made whipped cream, pancakes with grape syrup, and this amazing grape focaccia:
I have the rest of the grapes cooked down into juice so I can make jelly today or tomorrow. Yum.
This week, we also ate red curry vegetables, Mexican bean and corn casserole, and Rosemary Red Soup, which is not only a beautiful red color, but also super easy and ridiculously delicious.With beets, carrots, and onions, it’s perfect for fall, and because it also has red lentils in it, it’s a complete meal. (I put a little bit of rice in the bottom of the bowl.) This recipe is from Feeding the Whole Family, a cookbook I checked out from the LLL library and don’t want to give back.
So far this week, I had a lot of fun with housewife challenge #6, but it’s a challenge for a reason, so we’ll see how it plays out. Hopefully I’ll be able to stick to it so Nora can try lots of new food and I can fill up the recipe page on my site for you!