Friday, August 12, 2011

Plastic, Food & Homesteading

Here I was, foolishly feeling pretty comfortable in our plastic-free life. I thought I had it all under control, no plastic in the kitchen, in our clothing natural fibers only for us, or anywhere else. We gave up plastic back when K was born and weeded out any last remaining remnants last year. As far as I saw it, our home was completely plastic-free minus things you can't avoid like this computer for instance - but anything that touched our food or our children had to be plastic-free. What on earth was I thinking??

PLASTIC! Gaaaah!!! How was I so oblivious to the fact that some of our food products come in plastic and that this plastic has BPA and who knows what other harmful chemicals... why did I not see this? Even when we buy items in bulk using a cloth bag, the food has still been exposed to plastic as it sat in the bulk bins in the grocery store. My head is spinning.

This past week I have been panicking a bit over this and trying to figure out what I can do. I decided to start small so I would not overwhelm myself. I have a tendency to take on too much, who knew? The girls' yogurt seemed like a good place to start. Maybe I could just make their yogurt at home and store it in a glass jar. Simple enough. Is it cost effective, though? We are on a strict budget so we can't afford this to cost more than the store bought version. I am still determining this aspect. Then I thought about the milk I would need to buy to make the yogurt - it comes in a plastic jug. Great. That defeats the whole purpose of making my own yogurt in the first place. Oh but what about the milk that comes in the carton? Maybe, just maybe that's safe? But is the carton lined with BPA or anything else horrible? I have no clue - do any of you?

We have been freezing all of our fresh veggies and fruit we have been picking in glass canning jars. I admit that if we let the fruit or veggies sit in the freezer too long they get freezer burned but I am willing to accept that over chemicals leaching into them from plastic containers. I need to find a glass or other safe container for freezing larger things. With all of my cooking from scratch, I would love to be able to make some things in advance and freeze them for those crazy days when I just can't spend hours cooking a meal. I was thinking, in particular, of my black bean patties and burger buns. Have any recommendations?

I have also been thinking more and more about the grains we eat. Thank you for all of your comments last week and for bringing up grains. It seems that since I gave up soy and dairy I have been really overdoing wheat. Every meal I eat seems to be centered around it right now. The other week I made BBQ seitan ('wheat meat' made from vital wheat gluten) and we ate it on our whole wheat bread. Boy did it taste good but I felt so sick the whole night after eating it. I realize I am clueless when it comes to grains. I have always just tried to eat grains in their simplest form. I thought that if we ate whole grains from food I made from scratch we were ok, but I have a lot to learn. How do I know what it too processed to eat - flour wise? We buy Bob's Red Mill stone ground whole wheat flour and with Bob's standards I just assumed it's not too processed. We are actually hoping to get a grain mill for Christmas this year and grind our own flour but would that make the whole wheat better for us? Grains really confuse me!

I have been trying to cook and bake exclusively on our cast iron now (before we only used it for specific things like pancake,oh and our pizza). I love doing this as I know it's better for my family but I cannot seem to master the art of seasoning it just right so that it's a non-stick surface. I either make it so seasoned with oil that it's sticky to the touch or I don't season it enough and everything sticks to it. I can't seem to win but I refuse to give up.

These are the kinds of things that brought about our homesteading dreams to begin with. I remember life at the temple & self sufficient farm back in 2004, before even thinking about having our little ones. I felt like, amongst many other things, my time there was a test and preparation to see if I could really follow my dream. It really made me want our homestead even more. Goodness, I miss milking the cows there, such a peaceful meditation twice a day.
Alas, I feel like we have fallen so far behind on our homesteading dreams out here. I was hoping by now we'd have a huge garden, bees, happy rescued goats and chickens (although you can rent goats in Portland- how funny!) and be living even more off the land. I know progress in homesteading is slow but I have to say I am a bit impatient for my frontier dreams to come true!

Speaking of homesteading, I just discovered and am totally inspired by a couple of new to me sites and I thought I would pass on the inspiration.
Urban Homestead
Homestead Revival

Today K said to me, as if she could read the struggles going on in my mind:

Mama, you have us eat healthy,right?

Yes cuddle bug, I do, to the best of my ability.

I thought so. Thank you, Mama. When I grow up and have children of my own, I am going to feed them healthy food, too.

K's food preparations

Thank you, to my sweet K for reminding me why these decisions are so important.
She reminds me to calm down and take a deep breath. On that note, I think I will go do just that. All of this over analyzing of our health has me exhausted!

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