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April 2011

Food for Thought

By Lorinda

Food for Thought archive

When I was asked to write a column for this website, with a name like Yummy Northwest, my head was spinning with ideas; food is my favorite subject! I am excited to have a venue—or possible soapbox—for all the new information about nutrition and healthy eating that has been bouncing around in my head lately.

First, the disclaimers: I am not a nutritionist, a scientist, or a food-related professional of any type. I am not a vegetarian. I am also not an alarmist or activist by nature. In fact, until recently I preferred to avoid conflict at any cost, tucked away in my little house in the Huckleberry Mountains in the northeast corner of Washington State, oblivious to news in general.

Then last summer I started watching food documentaries. I began with Food, Inc., King Corn, and FoodMatters, which led to reading Harvest for Hope, by Jane Goodall; Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, by Barbara Kingsolver; and many online articles regarding food safety and nutrition, which led
to . . . confusion.

With seemingly sincere arguments on both sides of the subject of safe, healthful food, I had a hard time deciding what to believe. Finally, I had an "ah-ha" moment and acknowledged that the groups with the most to lose (read this as "profit") are probably not the most accurate or honest.

In the space of a year my attitude has moved from Pollyanna-like trust that big business and the government have our best interests at heart, to my suspicion and outright distrust of certain big corporations which—at this time—will not be named, and disappointment in big government agencies like the FDA and USDA.

I have decided that rather than make myself and my loved ones crazy, and to avoid the inevitable eye-rolls that my earnest opinions produce, I am going to pick my battles and make some common-sense choices for my husband and myself, and hope that my children and grandchildren are watching.

Here is what I have decided:

  • I will buy organic when possible. My budget doesn't allow for organic butter, but I can manage organic canola oil. Organic milk is a must-buy. Organic milk has more CLAs (good fats), no antibiotics, pesticides, or hormones, and is produced by cows that have access to open air. I am lucky to live in the country, where produce and grain are abundant. I also have a big garden where I grow and preserve a lot of our food. We can get farm fresh eggs for $2 a dozen. I'm talking beautiful, fresh eggs, with yolks that stand up at attention when they are being fried.
  • I will buy locally whenever I can and encourage small businesses. I would rather spend a few more dollars at a local grocery store than walk into a major chain store. Around here the smaller grocers are friendly, have more local produce, and play really good music on the loudspeakers. Even in the city there are good options available. If you haven't heard of Azure Standard delivery service, check it out now! For a list of cities (including ones in our own Yummy Northwest), you can call them for a catalog, or download the Schedule of Deliveries.
  • I am making a slow, steady transition to healthier food choices. I have been using whole grains instead of white flour, eating more raw vegetables than cooked, drinking plain water—no more sodas—and eating raw nuts instead of chips. I have learned to be satisfied with small quantities of dark chocolate for dessert. No fast foods. For the most part, aside from peas and iceberg lettuce, I have always been suspicious of anything green. That is something I am changing slowly, finding that my tastes have evolved a lot since childhood. Cooked spinach, lima beans, and kiwi fruit have been added to my list of acceptable green produce. I'm still holding out on Brussels sprouts . . . maybe I'll try them again this year.
  • Some things I am not ready to give up yet, though I may eventually. I have a full-blown love affair with coffee. Good, locally roasted coffee—and lots of it. I doubt I will give up my morning coffee, but I am trying to switch to green tea during the day. I (gasp) use corn syrup at Christmas when I make my beloved Christmas candies but try hard to avoid it otherwise—especially the high-fructose corn syrup that is in so many packaged foods. In a future column I will explain all of my reasons for hating the stuff. I love sugar in any form—a hard habit to break. And as much as I love baking whole grain breads, my passion for baking is more of the farmer's wife variety of yesteryear . . . using butter and cream and white sugar. Though I am trying to keep those ingredients to a minimum, they make me happy. And the cakes and cookies make my husband happy. I consider using them as an occasional trade-off for the crisp, steamed asparagus and freshly ground sprouted wheat bread we enjoy.
  • If I can bake it myself, I will. If I can grow it myself, I will. If I can bake and grow enough to give away, I will!
  • I have the luxury of being retired with plenty of time on my hands . . . something I realize is in short supply for most people. I hope to put some of this time to good use, researching current food and nutrition issues and passing them on to you.

    Since I am a work in progress, you will see a variety of subjects, random recipes, and enthusiastic discoveries. We will dance together around the subject of food!


    Contact Lorinda at lorindamckinnon@gmail.com

    Lorinda resides in Eastern Washington, where she joyously combines her love of cooking and gardening. Baking is her passion, and licking the batter off the spoon after making a cake is her reward. When she's not in the kitchen, she's out in the garden pulling weeds and snacking on young peas. Enjoy Lorinda's blog, The Rowdy Baker.


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