Hello Dear Readers! Much has happened in my life in the last 12 months. It’s been hard, but it’s all good. Major life changes, even the good ones, don’t come without effort, stress, tears, and prayer. Since I last posted, we have moved from a rental house into our country home on 23 acres. A month later, we had our fourth baby: beautiful 8 lb. 5 oz. Rebekah. We also added 2 bedrooms, a bathroom, and a study onto our house. Then we bought 12 chicks (future egg layers!). This has all been in the last 6 months. Currently, we are waiting for it to stop raining long enough for us to fill our raised beds with dirt and start our garden. Slowly, we are making this house and land our home.
Our move to the country took us away from most all of our healthy food sources. With our beloved farmer’s market, farms, and even Whole Foods more than an hour away I have had to reinvent my entire method for obtaining healthy food without sacrificing on the health part. Pregnancy and nursing are critical times in the life of Mommy and Baby, and at 43 years old I cannot afford to let that go like I did at 29. But it’s not all about me – I have 3 other children and a husband looking to me to provide them with nourishing food that will keep them well now and in years to come. Well it’s been a year this month since our move away from the city and I am thrilled and thankful to say, “We did it! And we ARE doing it!” I want to share with you a little about how we did it, and a few things I have learned in the process.
Our here in the country there is not only no health food store, but the local grocery stores leave a lot to be desired. Thankfully the grocer in our neighboring community has just remodeled and in so doing has expanded their natural foods section. They have a long way to go, but there has been great improvement. Unfortunately they still do not offer any natural or pastured meats, and the only acceptable dairy product they offer is Kerrygold butter. I’m still searching for local sources for organic or nearly organic produce. These things take time, and usually you meet someone who knows someone else who saw a little stand somewhere … In the meantime, we are going to learn how to grow our own and I am excited about that.
So what am I doing? I am relying on my freezer. We have eaten an entire beef this year. Not a quarter, not a half, but a WHOLE. I picked it up from the processor last June. We have just a few cuts left. I will be picking up our next whole beef in June again. This will be our main meat supply for the coming year. This forces me to plan what we are going to eat, and to learn new ways of preparing certain cuts that I previously knew nothing about. In the last 12 months, I have not bought one single cut of beef from a store! Additionally, we’ve been eating the whole chickens I purchased and froze before our move. We have not been having fancy, expensive boneless chicken breast dishes. But I have learned how to cut up and de-bone an entire chicken to have on the grill or bake in the oven. In the last year, I have not bought one single package of chicken from a grocery store (ok I did buy some drumsticks from a local farm)! Additionally, once a month we drive 90 minutes to Whole Foods and load up on foods that we can’t get here that freeze well. And I just reserved a pig that will be ready for us around the end of the year, about the time we’ll have made a good dent in the beef. That will re-fill the freezer. Can I just say that the investment in a large chest freezer has been worth every penny?
Something else I am learning to do is rely on the “Dirty Dozen” list that tells me which fruits and vegetables should be organic and which ones are ok to eat conventionally. Our local grocer has some organic produce but not much so I buy according to the Dirty Dozen list most of the time. When we drive to the city once a month, we go on a Saturday and make our first stop the farmer’s market where we buy as much produce as we can there, making sure not to over-buy so that we eat what we buy within two weeks so it is all still fresh. I’ve learned that healthy meals don’t require lots of produce.
After asking everyone I knew, and praying about it, I have found our source for fresh raw milk and farm fresh eggs. We are getting eggs from pastured hens for $1.25/dozen! On the other hand, we’re now paying $9/gallon for milk (as opposed to the $3/gallon we paid before the move). We go through several dozen eggs and 5 gallons of milk per week. These are very important items. The cost is a non-issue – we have to have the milk and it evens out since the eggs are so cheap and we are not buying as much produce, etc. Hopefully by the end of the summer our 12 chicks will be providing us with plenty of eggs!
Finally, I am relying on the mail and online ordering for items like cheese, maple syrup, coconut oil, cod liver oil, etc. I am still able to use our bulk food co-op since they have a delivery location nearby so that is a great blessing.
Does all this sound crazy? Consider Proverbs 31 verse 14 where God tells us that a virtuous woman, whose price is far above rubies, is “like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar.” 🙂
Here’s the kicker to all this: we are eating really well, very healthy, in abundance, and we are spending LESS. Yes, we are spending LESS! We are still spending a bundle per visit to Whole Foods, and a hundred or more per month through my food co-op, and we are buying expensive milk and expensive coconut oil and expensive maple syrup and more, but we are spending less. For one thing, we no longer have the convenience of running to the grocery store to pick up a little something for dinner. For another thing, we are buying in bulk. And finally, we eat at home. There just isn’t anywhere to eat out around here, so we just eat at home. I am cooking a full breakfast for my family of six most every day of the week, and a full dinner every night. But we are spending less money. I never use coupons, I never get anything on sale. I just buy directly from the farmer when I can, including through the mail, and we eat at home. Oh yes – and we cook from scratch instead of eating prepared, processed foods.
So we’re spending less, and eating more, and I have a new baby who nurses every 2 hours plus 3 others to homeschool and I am cooking more. How is this being accomplished? I am making meals as simple as possible, and I have taught my children how to help. My ten year old daughter has learned how to do a lot of things in the kitchen this year. Because she can read and follow directions, and I have taught her a few cooking techniques, she can do quite a bit in the kitchen. On Sunday nights, she is completely in charge of our meal! Anything she has a problem with she just asks. I can nurse the baby and give verbal directions at the same time. Also, she and my son are in charge of emptying the dishwasher and cleaning up the kitchen after breakfast and dinner. They do this every day. And like I mentioned earlier, we eat very simple meals.
It’s been quite the year for our family. I never thought we’d move out to the country like this, and I sure didn’t think that I would be having a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby at 43 years old. There have been many times where I have marveled at God’s mercies to have brought me where I am today. If He had not led me on this journey of healthy eating, and I had not listened, how would my body have handled pregnancy and birth at this age? There was a long season in my life where I had nothing to drink but diet Coke, and McDonalds was my primary food source. But I did listen, and while it has been difficult, it has been worth it.
I hope that you are listening too. Your journey toward healthy eating and better health won’t be easy either. People won’t understand, they will criticize you, they will talk about you behind your back, they will challenge you, they will roll their eyes, and you will be tired and busy and frustrated many times. You probably won’t see immediate results and your kids will refuse to eat and your husband will complain. Hang in there! It will be worth it for you too. But don’t trust me, trust God. He will direct your path.
…Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee. Psalm 143:8b