My thoughts on Food

Welcome to jana’s three dresses! I am currently reading  “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. Here are some of my thoughts after pondering over her first chapter. I hope you will offer your comments at the end of this post or at my Facebook page.

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Do you know the film , “Over the Hedge”?

My kids watch it a lot.

I can’t seem to get the scene out of my head where the Raccoon (voiced by Bruce Willis) explains to all of the other animals how the humans “worship” food. I hear him saying, “food, Food, FOOD!”. It is a great movie about excess, in case you are interested.

Well, I guess, that is how I feel about food. It is all around me, in excess.

I am one of those people who eats to live, not lives to eat. OK…don’t get me wrong. I do love to eat. And, I have my favorites like homemade salsa and tortilla chips, mint chocolate chip ice cream, pizza, and homemade popcorn, for example.

What I mean is that I can go for a while, when I am enjoying what I am doing or busy or need to run one more errand, and not be concerned with eating. I don’t have that,”I must eat right now or I won’t survive” instinct. However, I live with three males who do! So, I kind of get it.

What erks me about American society is first, how many choices we have when it comes to food, and second, the mass quantities we seem to think we need.

I have lived overseas twice in my life. First, in Costa Rica when I was a pre-teen for three years while my parents were missionaries. Second, just recently when my family of four was in Belgium for almost three years with the Air Force. In both cases, I experienced societies whose relationship with food was quite different from the example we have here in the United States.

I witnessed extreme poverty in Costa Rica where beans and rice were the staple for most. Truly desperate people were on the street asking for food: the man with no legs who used his fists to “walk” and the child at our front gate with no shoes on asking for anything we could spare.

In Belgium, I observed a society that buys only enough food for the day. The routine for most women is to go to the market everyday to buy the items they need to feed their family – for that day. Bakery. Butcher. Farmer’s Market. Cheese Cart. Looped over their arms would be two well-worn reusable shopping bags filled with that day’s meals, always with a baguette poking out the top.

In both cases, upon returning to the U.S. I was overwhelmed with all of the choices available to us in the supermarkets. Entire rows dedicated to breakfast food. Multiple brands of spaguetti sauce. A long aisle dedicated to Chips and Soda. Don’t get me started on all of the varieties of yogurt!

I stick with my staples and don’t venture far from them. I tend to get overwhelmed with too many choices. I don’t like that enormous grocery store that starts with a “W”. I know many of my friends do. For me it is like sensory overload. I just can’t take it all in and feel unease just at the thought of it.

We then find we need an extra refrigerator, larger pantry, and a deep freezer to store all of the excess food we accumulate.

Why?

Why do we do this to ourselves?

We take on so much more than we need. We are burdened with having to organize it all. Then, if we make time, we must inventory it all before we go to the store again to prevent ourselves from buying what we already have.

If we only bought what we needed for that day, my hunch is that we would spend less, eat less, and have time for other pursuits.

I know there are a lot of Foodies out there reading this saying, “Now wait a minute. Hold on. I love all of the choices. I like the comfort of storing extra food in my home just in case {you fill in the blank}.”

I know, my comments are probably not popular, but I am all about being authentic and letting you know what I really think.

In regards to the quantity of food we store, buy, and think we need, consider the dinner plate. We all probably know by now that we should choose a smaller dinner plate in order to consume less. A larger plate compells us to fill it up, and therefore we consume more.

Okay, so imagine the places in your house where you store your food are like your dinner plate.

Refrigerator/Freezer.

Pantry.

Deep Freezer.

Refrigerator in the garage.

Basement {for some I know, the pantry overflow ends up here on neatly lined shelves}.

The more storage space you have for food, the more you are likely to purchase and to stock. Right?

And for some, if you don’t have enough storage, you go out and buy an extra refrigerator, a deep freezer, or extra shelves for the basement.

Well, here is my challenge for you.

What if you took one of the above “Food-Storage-Systems” and got rid of it. Would that help you take a first step toward battling the excess of food in your life?

What if you only bought enough food to get your family through one week – 7 days?

If you have decided to take on Jen Hatmaker’s challenge of eating only 7 foods for a month, I applaud you! I, however, have decided that is not going to work for me and my family.

Instead, I have decided to be disciplined about making a precise grocery list for a week of meals, including school lunches. {I have done this off and on in the past. But, I always end up walking out with something extra, fun, just because.} I plan to not allow myself to do that.

I have also made a list of items that are often thrown away because they go bad before I have a chance to use them.

Fresh fruit.

Fresh vegetables.

Cheese.

Lunch meat.

Bread.

Occasionally meat that I didn’t freeze in time.

So, my plan is to only buy what I think my family can consume in a week.

I am accepting the fact that I may have to return to the grocery store more often than before.

Also, I plan to use items in the freezer and pantry to the best of my ability {and my families tolerance} before I buy more “stock”.

Finally, I plan to more freely give to those in need that I see during the day. I often withhold a handout of money from the homeless man on the corner thinking he may use it for alcohol or drugs. But, you know what? What if he really is hungry and I just denied him a chance to have a full stomach? Whom am I to judge him?

So, I will carefully walk the aisles of my local grocery store, checking off my list as I go, resisting the temptation to purchase that “oh, I have been wanting to try this” item or that extra loaf of bread in case we run out.

With regard to the man or woman in need who may cross my path tomorrow, I pray for an opportunity to give to them as my Father has given to me.

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  Matthew 25:41-46

newly purposed,

jana

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6 thoughts on “My thoughts on Food

  1. Ugh! The thought of going to the grocery everyday makes me cringe! I *hate* grocery shopping. I suppose because of this & because we have a medium-sized family, I like to buy in bulk. My pantry is full of flour, brown sugar, pasta & sauce, & cans of beans. My upright freezer holds a side of grass-fed beef, several pastured chickens, homemade jellies and frozen fruits the kids & I picked throughout the summer. I smile each time I open that lovely appliance. Despite all this seeming excess, I honestly feel my family does a pretty good job at keeping our food consumption in check. We eat out only twice per month, we gave up fast food over 10 yrs ago & I cook nearly all our meals from scratch(and use the left overs for lunch the next day).

    Where we fall short is providing our children with a true awareness and appreciation of how lucky they are to have food on the table at every meal. This year our two oldest will be involved in a soup kitchen. I haven’t hashed out the details yet, but we feel strongly that they need to see & serve the poor in hopes that they can begin to realize how fortunate we are & how we can use our fortune to help others. I like Jen Hatmaker’s comment that we need to know the poor, not just give anonymously.

    • Hi Michelle, Yes, I like what Jen Hatmaker said too! I was exposed to the poor at such a young age, made aware of how fortunate I was. I worry I am not providing the same “education” for my boys. Michelle, I know you all are very conscientious and it seems to me that many are going the way you have gone – homemade, organic, etc. I guess what I will take away from this chapter on FOOD is how easy it would be to just go on through life without truly appreciating how wealthy we are here in the US. Food is so available, yet so wasted! I am thankful I had experiences early in my life when I was able to see first-hand others who are not so fortunate. I commend you all for choosing to show your children the same. jana

  2. Good thoughts, Jana. I think budgeting also helps with avoiding excess food. Personally, I would love to shop every morning for that day’s meals – but right now it works better to go every 2 weeks. And yet, by sticking to our budget, we don’t end up with too much extra stuff that goes bad (or that’s bad for us).
    Of course, we don’t have more than a regular fridge/freezer and small pantry. Although I’d love a deep freezer – but not just to accumulate. More so we could grow our own veggies and store them for use throughout the year, thus cutting down our grocery bill (and eating healthier). And so we could take advantage of hunting and have a place to store larger cuts of fresh meat. For us, that’s not excess in food. It’s saving money and living more healthfully.

    • Hi Elizabeth, You are right, freezers and pantries can be our friend when we fill them with our homegrown fruits and vegetables and meat. I have many friends who do just that. I wish I was in one place long enough to have my own vegetable garden. I agree, budgeting and sticking to the budget helps immensely. It takes great discipline and a mutual commitment with your spouse. Thank you for your thoughts, Elizabeth. jana

  3. hi,
    i’m on the journey with you jana. i am on chapter 2 too. i feel strongly that our bodies need a variety of healthy, fresh foods over a 2-4 day period so i won’t try this limitation that jen h. took on. but i applaud her for her ingenuity. i like to see what challenges people put themselves through. in 1988 i stopped eating all meat and haven’t eaten red meat, or white meat since.

    i’ve done cleanses and fasts. the hardest thing about having food all around you is limiting your consumption of it. when you listen to what your body really wants it becomes clearer; including eating slower and more in the moment. chewing and swallowing gracefully. i asked my almost 8-year-old today what she wanted for dinner. it took her a while to decide. i asked her to listen to what her body was telling her it needed. when is the last time you did that and got an answer? if you crave sugar, or salt then please drink a large glass of water and wait 20 minutes then ask yourself again

    here’s a really great site (you need an hour to watch this)

    http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/09/02/fructose-affects-brain-health.aspx

    • Great thoughts, Elisa. Listening to our bodies and what they need. It is only recently that I realized I do this. I wasn’t conscious of it, but I believe it stems from the healthy eating habits my mom raised me with. I was a kid who had wheat bread, carrots, and cottage cheese in her lunch box. The weird one. I so wanted the fruit roll-ups, little debbie snacks, and chips. I thank my mom regularly for teaching me how to eat healthy and balanced meals, and more importantly to listen to my body and what it needs. I will check out that website. Yes, I am becoming more and more convinced that sugar is our greatest enemy. They have finally linked it to heart disease and plaque build-up. So important for all of us to understand. Thank you, Elise, for joining me in the journey. jana

I would love to hear from you!