Food Resolutions?

I don’t generally do the whole New Year’s Resolution thing.  I used to, years ago, but I found what I think many people find when they really examine the practice: that resolutions are generally more style than substance; they’re often too grandiose and unspecific to be achievable; and they’re easier to break, even, than they are to make.  What I have decided about resolutions is that they’re a gesture, at best, that hides the more noble intention of continuing to evolve as people and become more of what we want to be.  In short, keep becoming your better self.

So I didn’t make any resolutions on the New Year.  As always, I thought fleetingly about the whole concept of resolutions, and I looked around myself and thought about all the things that I want to continue to improve upon in my life.  I would like to improve upon our ability to be somewhat clean and organized at home; I would like to improve upon my overall health; I would like to improve upon my ability to finish writing projects that I’m pursuing for my own enjoyment and actually, maybe, possibly, DO something with them sometime.  With all these things duly noted, I moved on, because I’ll continue to evolve as I always have, and no “I will” or “I must” statement at the stroke of midnight will have any positive effect on what I actually achieve.

But then I started to notice that many people out there on Al Gore’s interwebs are talking about Food Resolutions.  And I wondered if I needed some of those.

Oh, some of the Food Resolution gang are simply ridden with the typical New Year’s remorse, and their goals are more to do with wanting to lose the holiday pounds or fit into their high school skinny jeans than they are about actual food.  But many others are good, conscious eaters, who are making all kinds of promises to themselves about eating even better and more consciously.  Which makes me examine myself.  And wonder: Am I up to that task?

I’m sure it seems like I’ve got things all together and under control when it comes to the food thing, but the truth is, there are many moments in any given year when I feel like our life is a treadmill going at top speed, and I couldn’t possibly make any significant changes to something as integral to our routine as the way we cook and eat — not without flying backwards off the belt and smacking face-first into cruel reality.  I don’t for a moment believe that I have all the answers or that I do everything exactly “right” when it comes to feeding myself, J., and the boys.  I confess that I cringe with a bit of shame and self-doubt when I see other parents agonizing over the addition of a little brown sugar to an oatmeal recipe, or throwing out every bit of plastic dishware in their homes.  But I don’t stop putting brown sugar in some of the things my kids eat, and I don’t throw away the Backyardigans dinner plates.

Do I have the inner strength, the mental energy, or even the conviction required to make any kind of meaningful food resolution?  Is it even required of me?  Am I already, as Gandhi would say, being the change I wish to see in the world?

Sigh.  I don’t know the answers to these questions.  Two days ago, I didn’t even know I HAD these questions.  I suppose the best thing to do is to examine my real core beliefs and intentions and hold them up, one by one, to see if they’re threadbare in places.  Here goes:

In the “About” section of this blog, I state the following: …By “fed,” I mean with as much grace, humor, taste, style, and locally/responsibly produced food as I can reasonably achieve.  And maybe it’ll be healthy, too.  And…oh, yeah, not too pricey.

The grace may be a little threadbare.  I’ll have to consult J. on that one.  And truthfully, I’m not sure what it’s doing there to begin with, because graceful is not a word that has ever been used with any seriousness to describe anything I’ve done in life.  But the humor is still, I think, relatively intact.  It was at least reasonably amusing to me to drop a full bottle of fruit and veggie juice yesterday, causing the Red Sea to spread across my kitchen, while firmly holding a screaming P. on my hip and doing an arabesque across the puddle to reach the paper towels.

Taste is there, or at least it seems to be, but I’m pleasing my own palate when I cook, so maybe I’m not objective.  Style is sort of like grace — it sounded good at the time, but I’m not particularly stylish in any regard, so we’ll chalk it up to poetic license.  Locally and responsibly produced?  I guess I left myself some wiggle room with that “as much as possible” bit.

Hm.

I haven’t been to the Winter farmer’s market yet — too busy.  And though J. and I have made the switch to almost exclusively organic produce at the grocery stores, we all know that organic does not necessarily mean local.  We’re doing pretty well on the meat front, I’ll give us that much…but could we do better on the local/responsible thing?  I’m slinking under my desk as I grudgingly admit that we probably could.

Healthy and not too pricey?  Depends, I guess.  I’ve been a big proponent of using the word “wholesome” to describe food rather than “healthy,” because what we perceive as healthy changes from day to day and from one scientific study to another.  Balanced, yes, I think our food has been; nutrient-rich, often.  Maybe there’s some better, more tangible goal that eludes me in the quest for “healthy.”  And as far as price, the jury’s still kind of out on this one, and they’re deliberating on price vs. value, so…

I guess what I’m thinking is that as far as food resolutions go, we can all do only the best that we can do, if that makes any sense at all.  My only resolution will be this: to be more accountable to myself for the decisions that I make, and not to apologize for them.  If I continue to believe that wholesome, homemade food, sourced properly, is the best foundation for my kids’ health and my own, then that compass will (hopefully) not steer me wrong.  Judge me if you must.  But I’m not cleaning the brown sugar out of my pantry.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.

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2 Responses to Food Resolutions?

  1. TB says:

    So well said! Last spring after reading “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver I was inspired, to say the least to buy local, organic foods as much as possible. I was right on time to join a very local CSA and waited not-so-patiently for our crops to be harvested. It was a great experience, I was forced to make our meals from what was local and in season rather than what we thought we wanted that day. It was a challenge and good things came from it. Unfortunately, the upfront costs are pretty high for us this year, overall it’s a great value but right now I don’t think we can do it.

    Not everything at our Farmer’s Market is organic. So, in your opinion, would you go for Organic grocery store produce -or- possibly NOT organic, local produce from the Farmers Market?

    Thanks for the wonderful blog, so glad I found you!

    • Thanks for visiting! I’m glad you found me too! I think the decision of organic produce vs. local produce, Farmer’s Market vs. CSA, etc. is a very personal one. However, that being said: I think you have to do a little homework with your farmers. Many, many Farmer’s Markets feature wonderful local produce that is not labeled as “organic” because the process of becoming certified organic (and thus being allowed to label your produce with that word) can be quite expensive and cumbersome. Most small growers don’t have the resources to obtain the certification. So what I promote among conscious eaters is to actually research, if possible, what your vendors’ growing practices are. If they’re using more natural forms of pest management, and you generally like their stuff and think their practices are sound, then I’d buy from them. Stimulate your local economy and support the people in your area; plus, you’ll benefit from the wonderful freshness of just-picked produce. However, if you can’t be sure of the growing practices, then at least get the “Dirty Dozen” at the grocery, where you can rely on the “organic” label.

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