We survived Food Weeks. And it wasn’t really hard. And that bothers me.
I decided for this experiment, we would only eat the food we had in our house. I went to Costco, bought what we needed, brought it home, and put it away. Then I realized: this wasn’t going to hurt enough. We had SO MUCH FOOD, even before the Costco run. We have two refrigerators, three freezers (one full size), and two pantries. Seriously, y’all. I never realized how ridiculous this is. Our shelves are overflowing, and yet my kids still complain about having “nothing to eat.”
So we eliminated all restaurants for the next two weeks. No eating out, no fro-yo, no Starbucks. (We did agree to buy milk when we ran out. We drink a lot of milk. Moo.) Michael decided to pay homage to medical school/residency and take his lunch to work every day.
But still. It didn’t seem enough.
So we decided to invest our grocery money for these two weeks with Kiva. This amazing organization funds microloans for people in impoverished countries who, as Jen Hatmaker puts it, need to get their hands on the bottom rung of the ladder to pull themselves out of poverty and feed their families. We, who have food spilling off our shelves, can lend money to farmers and shop owners and artisans so they can put food in their mouths.
Okay. That was a starting point. We talked to our kids about what we were doing, and they jumped on board, especially about Kiva. But again, we didn’t really feel it. Nathan would reconsider a second bowl of cereal, knowing there would not be more when it ran out—but we never ran out. We made waffles for our traditional (read: convenient) Sunday night cereal-and-smoothies in order to conserve the cereal. We found out that, when baking and out of eggs, you can substitute a concoction of water, oil, and baking powder for an egg…but your beautiful Belgian waffles will more closely resemble Waffle Bits. They still taste good.
For the last five years or so, I have stocked pre-assembled Dream Dinners in our upright freezer, and it saves my sanity. I go to Dream Dinners once a month, spend an hour & a half assembling enough meals for the month (and then some). Each week, I thaw out a couple of meals, which only take about thirty minutes to get on the table. The food is tasty, nutritious, and most importantly, convenient. I’m totally down with that.
Last week, I pulled out Parmesan Crusted Salmon with Pesto. Except that I had forgotten to include the small cups of pesto in my freezer bag. I faced a dilemma: prepare the salmon without the pesto, or go buy a jar of pesto? Technically, pesto is a seasoning, right? Not actually a food, even though you eat it? Griffin, who is not at all a fan of salmon but is still forced to choke it down once a month, suggested we chunk the salmon and eat something else. We can’t break the rules, Mom.
Nice try. “A” for effort.
I bought the pesto.
And on our final day of the Food Fast, Michael and I took his widowed mom out to lunch. Because Jesus loves widows. And it was the last day.
Me: I think God will give grace for taking a widow out to lunch.
Michael: I don’t know about that grace thing. Have you seen God’s ninja angels taking out Sodom?
Thankfully the ninja angels didn’t show up in the cafe americano, and we ate our chicken salad without being struck down or turned into a pillar of low-sodium Sea Salt.
The “healthy eating” thing wasn’t a big deal for my family—as it was for some in our discussion group—since we dove into that a few years ago. We certainly had our share of chemically-processed, food-like fare before that, but the train hit our station and we jumped on. I read Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food, which has since hugely affected our food choices. So I didn’t feel like I needed to buy more avocados and chicken and whole wheat bread because we had enough of those things waiting for us in our kitchen. We needed to eat all the healthy food we already owned.
Jen Hatmaker’s discussion of the Levitical food laws (pages 36-40 in the workbook) fascinated me. I knew that whole foods are the best foods, and that some foods (especially some meats) are better than others, but I had no idea why. I knew that, according to Michael Pollan, “you are what you eat eats”: the nutritional value of the meat on your plate is affected by what that animal ate. It makes sense that most of the animals God declares “clean” in Leviticus 11 are herbivores, and most of the unclean are carnivores. Additionally
God forbid the consumption of scavengers, predators, and bottom-dwellers. To be sure, these animals serve important roles in ecological cycles as the Environmental Clean-Up Crew of sorts, capable of ingesting and processing tremendous amounts of poison and waste in short periods of time.
Some scavengers, like catfish, crabs, and lobsters, are bottom-feeders. Clams and oysters are filter feeders that purify water by concentrating chemicals and bacteria in their tissues. Others, like vultures and crows, eat dead, rotting flesh. This assists in the breakdown of organic matter and bacteria, so they do not remain toxic to the environment. Hogs actually have specially designed pus ducts located above their hooves to regularly drain poisons from their bodies. Obviously, these animals are ridden with toxins, parasites, and pathogens; great for the earth, terrible for our bodies. By abstaining from these unclean animals, we do not rid the planet of its necessary clean-up crew, nor do we ingest the toxins they were created to filter. God is protecting His entire creation.
Where does that leave my clan? I think my two-week grocery store fast will affect my future shopping trips. I know now that we can live on what we have, that I do not have to replenish and stockpile a particular food before it is 100% gone, and even if it is gone, we have other options, for crying out loud.
I’m pretty sure I will buy milk and fresh produce every week, and only buy dry goods every other week—or even every two weeks. Seriously, how many snack foods does one family need?
Bottom line: we have a lot. In excess. Overflowing. Unnecessary. And so many have so little. Not enough. And it is not okay for me to be okay with that.
Next up: clothing. I will be wearing the same seven(ish) items of clothing for two weeks. If you smell a stench, feel free to hand me a bottle of Febreeze. I won’t be offended.
What about you? What are your thoughts on food? For those of you joining our 7 Experiment, what did you experience?