Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nothing From A Box?!

While on vacation last month, my husband, kids, and I played many rounds of a game we'll call "Don't Say A Particular Word." For instance, one evening during dinner the challenge was to avoid saying the word "and." My sons and I were out in less than two minutes. My husband lasted until we were washing up the dishes. My nine year old daughter held out the longest. With a few exceptions, that's pretty much how all of the rounds went all week. My sons and I talk a lot and often without thinking. My husband is less loquacious than us and our daughter always thinks carefully before she opens her mouth, game or not. Despite the fact that those two kept winning, it was a great game because it got us thinking about how frequently we use certain words in conversation. Try an afternoon without "it," "the," or "to." It was also good because whoever got "out" first usually laughed about it and didn't pout or stomp off- a major step in our family's game playing evolution.
I am currently considering a different, much more challenging, game of avoidance for the family. Instead of "Don't Say a Particular Word," it's "Don't Eat Anything From A Box." If you know me, you know that's going to be more difficult than having a conversation without using any word with letters in it. We like our cornflakes, cookies, and Saltine crackers over here at the Book Bench. On the other hand, with books like The Omnivore's Dilemma (and everything by Suzanne Sommers) and films like The Future of Food out there, there is a high level of discourse in America right now not just about the health implications of our food choices, but the environmental, economic, and ethical implications as well.
These conversations about responsible eating are not just being held on CSPAN and liberal arts college campuses. I've been talking about it with the other moms at the lake while our kids have been splashing around this summer. So you know it's reached the people. I've always tried to feed me family healthy foods, but I'm far from perfect and could really up my game. Recently, a friend told me about a woman she met recently, "a health food nut," who doesn't feed her family anything from a box. Nothing from a box? Reactions were swift and strong. I think I was loudest. Crazy! Impossible! Expensive! But I've been sitting with the idea and have decided to give it a try for 48 hours. I'm a little pissed that I didn't start yesterday because the kids and I made our own bread, but now it's gone. And of course I'm looking for loopholes- perhaps the girls at the Dunkin' Donuts drive through window could throw our munchkins in a bag instead of a box? If it used to be packaged in a box but now comes in a "new, resealable pouch!" does that count?
As with all my projects, I picked up a few books at the library to get me started. I have to admit that I haven't yet cooked anything in Mariel's Kitchen: Simple Ingredients for a Delicious and Satisfying Life by Mariel Hemingway, but to be honest, not much in it appeals to me and I don't know where I would find many of the ingredients such as Xylosweet, whey protein, and hemp protein powder.
On the other hand, I cannot wait to start making some of the recipes in Almost Meatless: Recipes That Are Better for Your Health and the Planet by Joy Manning and Tara Mataraza Desmond. The authors are sensible rather than militant in their philosophy and present recipes with ingredients I recognize. The photos delicious. Some recipes call for meat, but in smaller quantities than traditional recipes. Moreover, an explanation is given for using grass feed beef and more expensive "certified humane" organic chicken. This book might really help me with the nothing out of a box challenge.

I have yet to spring the idea on my family. Wish me luck with that and with avoiding convenience foods. If you're headed my way with a Nutter Butter in your hands in the next week or so, kindly keep it out of sight. My dignity will thank you. I'll keep you posted.


A Lawyer Mom's Musings said...

Christina, I am so wishing you luck.

First of all, were you kidding with that crack about Suzanne Somers writing a "readable" book or did I get the spelling wrong and it's a different Suzanne?

Second, I am behind your cook witchery in word, deed, and spirit. Go on, go ahead. I'm quivering right beside you . . . ready to make the recipes you've already proven to be tried and tested.

Because my repertoire is abysmal and I've been looking for a cooking buddy for lo these many months.

Christine said...

I wasn't serious about Suzanne and her cook and health books, but there always seems to be a new one on the New Nonfiction shelf in my library. She must be doing something right, or at least something popular. We haven't yet started the 48 hour no packaged food challenge, perhaps because I want to use up the Fruit Loops and Goldfish crackers first, but it's coming.

MondayCampaigns said...

Hi Christina,
You are so right in pointing out how there are more resources to make a lower meat diet more feasible. I intern with Meatless Monday, a project of Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health, to encourage cutting meat consumption for improved personal health as well as a reduced carbon footprint. The website has various recipes (like this delicious Broccoli, Red Pepper, and Tofu Quiche: as well as nutrition facts and health news to ensure that your meals keep the heart, environment, and wallet happy! Also, check out the Youtube video for the history and science behind the campaign:
Thanks! Ashwini