Too Many Evils

Grocery shopping. Two words that can send the most mature adult you know into a whiny fit. Don’t shake your head – I know it’s not just me. But lately, grocery shopping has gotten even more stressfulwhich is something I didn’t even know was possible.

Once upon a time, I admit, I found grocery shopping fun. My husband and I would go together and we’d actually have a good time choosing our groceries. I know you’re thinking “she’s going to say it was before they had kids” and you’d be right but that’s (shockingly) not the only reason.

We were young. We were in our late teens and 20s, which is right smack-dab in the middle of the time in your life where you live in the here-and-now. You don’t think about the future. You buy Cheetos and you enjoy the crap out of them. You don’t care what’s in them. I’m not saying that’s all we ate but we certainly didn’t “care” as much back then about what we put in our bodies. And our metabolisms, they kept up with us. Our debit card didn’t groan during checkout because we were only buying for 2. It was glorious.

Enter the children and grocery shopping became a punishment. But not in the way you’re thinking. Well, not entirely in that way, anyway.

Wanting the absolute best for my children, I began to read labels. By reading the labels, I realized that hardly anything I had been buying was actually food; it was chemicals and fillers. Who wants to eat corn meal with “cheese flavoring”, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and yellow #6? That, my friends, are some of the listed ingredients of Cheetos. Gross.

How about fruit snacks – those low-fat gummy treats boasting that they provide your child with 100% daily value of vitamin C? First ingredient? Corn syrup. Second? Sugar. Modified corn starch. Natural and artificial flavorings. Oh, and red 40 and blue 1. Yuuuuum.

How are these things considered food? Thankfully, it seemed as though a lot of other people became concerned with this because it was getting easier to find “all natural” alternatives. Even if it wasn’t certified organic, I still felt better giving my family foods that contained actual ingredients and still do. But now even just looking for organic and/or natural ingredients isn’t enough. Enter… dun-dun-DUNNNNN… the Great GMO debate.

Ahhhh, GMOs. Genetically Modified Organism. Disclaimer: I am not a biotechnician, nor am I  an authority on genetically modified vs. conventional farming but something tells me that eating food whose genetic thumbprint has literally been modified for whatever reason (to repel aphids that can hurt the crop or to keep an apple from turning brown once the flesh has been exposed to air, etc) just isn’t good for us. The fact that Monsanto wants to keep GMO labeling off of products just maddening. I’m pretty sure I deserve to know what I’m putting into my body and the bodies of my children.

So now, as I walk through the aisle of the local supermarket, I don’t see cereal or juice or margarine. I see GMO grain (General Mills Cheerios), high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavoring (majority of juice) and a chemical crapstorm (margarine). To navigate through this “food” is exhausting and at this point in time, there is absolutely no way (for us) to completely avoid all the crap masquerading as food. If I could afford to buy myself a farm, grow my own fruit and vegetables and had all the time in the world to make every single thing my family ate from scratch, I would do it.

Unfortunately, it’s 2014, not 1914. We can’t do that so I do the best with what I’ve got. I avoid overly processed foods like the plague. I avoid artificial flavorings, preservatives, additives, and processed and low/no-fat stuff like the plague. It’s nothing but chemicals and our bodies were not designed to metabolize chemicals. So yes, I feed my family actual butter instead of partially hydrogenated soybean (which did you know is one of the biggest GMO crops out there?) oil and water, which is what you may know as margarine. I also buy as much local produce as possible from the various farmer’s markets in my area and I buy majority of our meat from a local butcher.

I try not to buy products owned by Big Food (General Mills, Kellogg’s, ConAgra,

Isn't this terrifying?

Isn’t this terrifying?

MARS, Unilever, Nestle, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Mondelez – formerly Kraft, etc) but even that is damn near impossible. Look at the image to the left. Those corporations don’t care about your health. They care about profit. And they’re sneaky. I thought I had found the spaghetti jackpot when I discovered Muir Glen Organic tomato sauce and paste. I read the label, saw none of the companies in the image to your left, and felt good about my find. Until I found out that Muir Glen is distributed by Small Planet Foods, which is owned by… wait for it… General Mills. Same with Cascadian Farms, another former favorite of mine, and most recently, GM’s newest acquisition, Annie’s Homegrown. The same General Mills that has put millions into keeping GMO labeling off the labels of your food.

Is your head spinning? Welcome to my world every two weeks! Ridiculous, isn’t it?


For the Beauty of the Earth

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – Lucy Maud Montgomery
I think Anne of Green Gables, the character to whom the above quote belongs, is absolutely spot on. I love autumn. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy winter, spring and summer too, but there is something about autumn that I just love. This is a relatively new development. I used to favor spring although I will fully admit that I like each season for its offerings but the older I’ve gotten, the more I fall for… well, fall.
It’s like one last explosion of beauty before winter arrives, in all its starkness. I love the changing leaves and the smell of fallen leaves on the ground. I love the scent of pumpkin pie and apples and cinnamon. (While I’m at it, I love eating those things too.) Autumn is a time when routines return, extracurricular activities resume and moms who thrive on schedules and routines (like me) rejoice.
It’s when it gets just chilly enough to require a jacket but not frigid enough to have to bundle up. You can drink that second cup of coffee without breaking a sweat. Even better yet? Hot toddies and other delectable warm libations. Warm alcoholic beverages not your favorite? You’re in luck because with October comes… Oktoberfest! Beer and merrymaking galore!

September also marks the return of football season. I’m sorry, but Sundays during football season are my favorite days of the week. (Unless my team didn’t show up to play.) And while September may mark the end of the regular baseball season, October begins post-season which is waaaay more exciting when your team is in the play-offs, like mine. (Let’s go, O’s!)

Are you seriously not convinced yet? How about the holidays? There’s Labor Day. (I count September as autumn. It’s my blog. I can do what I want.) Columbus Day. Two 3-day weekends in back-to-back months. Who doesn’t like that? Then there’s Halloween. Now I admit, Halloween isn’t nearly as fun from around college graduation until you have kids but once you have kids? It’s great! You get to “test” all their candy. We have 3 children. Life is grand for my husband and me in November. And then

Does this not look fantastic?

Does this not look fantastic?

there’s Thanksgiving. A holiday created, in part, for gorging yourself on the tastiest food known to mankind. Roasted turkey. Mashed potatoes. Stuffing. Sweet potato casserole. Pumpkin pie. Apple pie.

 It’s the time of year when delicious treats like caramel apples – okay, caramel in general – is IN season and swimsuits are NOT. When you can wrap yourself up in a soft, comfy sweater while you smell the soup you’ve had simmering all day. It is the homiest time of year and who doesn’t love feeling homey?
And there is aaaaaaaabsolutely nothing that beats an autumn sunsets. Nothing. I don’t care if you’ve had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, when you see the sky explode into

Nothing beats an autumn sunset.

Nothing beats an autumn sunset.

stunning shades of pink, orange, periwinkle, yellow and purple, you can’t help but feel happy. As you sip your hot buttered rum (or mulled wine, or…) while you’re snuggled up on the couch with your loved one. With a crackling fire in the fireplace. Watching a new episode of your favorite show because what else happens in autumn? That’s right, the new TV season!

So, my dear friends, you can try and argue that winter/spring/summer is better than autumn but you’d be wrong. Now excuse me while I go check on the soup that’s been simmering all day because it smells fantastic.