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A Philosophy of Food

February 3, 2010

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to what I’m calling my “food philosophy.” What is that, you ask? I’ll explain.

I love food. I love cooking. I love eating.

I love trying to find healthy, delicious and natural food for me and my family.

I am a big believer in eating “whole” foods (not the grocery store chain), meaning natural and true, unprocessed food. Common food items in our house: chicken, tuna, salmon, hamburger, ground turkey, cheese, yogurt, lots of milk, vegetables, beans, hummus, oatmeal, brown rice, pasta, whole grains, butter, water, and not as much fruit as I’d like.

I like to buy fresh and organic. I buy mainly whole grain carbs. I avoid processed food as much as possible. Exceptions include ice cream, V8 juice, seasonal candy, and Diet Coke (I’m working on giving this one up … God help me!). I avoid products labeled “lite,” as I believe nature did not intend for food to be made “lite.” Plus those foods are usually much higher in sugar or high fructose corn syrup. (Read the label, you’ll see.)

My philosophy is to eat as naturally as possible; stay active and exercise; and that I can eat what I want if I make it myself. I make my own salad dressings. If I am craving sweets, I make cookies from scratch. If I want cheesy pasta, I get out the ingredients and make a spiced-up mac-and-cheese. I’m not saying this is easy. And I do have the pizza delivery flyer on my fridge. But on average, I try to cook from scratch when I can so I feel less guilty the times when I cannot.

Where I buy food is important to me. I shop mainly at Trader Joe’s and Costco, both of which I find to be the most economical stores. Chain grocery store visits are few and far between. And I’m not a big coupon user because most coupons are good for processed foods at chain grocers.

We recently watched the documentary Food Inc. For those that have not seen it, I warn you. It’s not for the light of heart. The movie brings an entire new meaning to the phrase, “You are what you eat.” Food Inc. was extremely eye-opening and made me so much more conscious of the meat we eat. As a result, I now pay strict attention to what meat I buy, how it was “raised,” and where I’m purchasing it.

As I near the end, let me say a few words about money.

I do not have a set-budgeted grocery amount because I feel like the one area where it’s important not to skimp is on good, healthy food. But after tracking our monthly food purchases for the past year, I’ve determined that we spend an average of about $550 per month on food. This includes groceries and Costco food items (household products are excluded). At first I thought this was a lot of money for a family of three (maybe it is). But when I polled my fellow Facebook friends and colleagues at work to find out how much their family spends on groceries each month, we came in about average or under the norm.

So what’s my bottom line?

We eat natural, fresh, and smart. This is what works for me and my family. I know there are many other ways to eat, and I applaud anyone who even thinks about food and what they put in their mouth. That being said, maybe just being a conscious eater is the way to go. After all, “You are what you eat.”

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