One question I've never been asked is why Mr. Scrimp and I make an effort to eat organic, local, and/or unprocessed food whenever possible. I think that's because, particularly amongst our 20-something age group, eating organic and local has become a very fashionable thing to do, which makes it a very unfashionable thing to question.
But, I think it's worth discussing our reasons, because I know there are so many people out there who aren't doing it, and I believe it's very valuable.
So, here's a list of the reasons we changed our lifestyle like this.
Over the years, Mr. Scrimp and I have both had some health problems, ranging from very minor to chronic and life-impacting. From high blood pressure to weight to endometriosis and infertility, these are things that, while they may not have been caused by eating processed or chemical-covered food, certainly haven't been helped by them.
I don't like the fact that commercial beef is injected with ammonia. I don't like the way that commercial chickens are raised. I believe that it's unhealthy to feed livestock exclusively with corn and the waste of other livestock. Apart from the obvious disgust/taboo factor when you actually look at those things, how about the fact that I'm eating that? Next time you buy a burger, try spraying it with a little Windex and think about whether it's still appetizing. No? I didn't think so. Seem healthy to you? Again, I didn't think so.
Add in the staggering amount of sugar that gets pumped into processed foods and suddenly it makes more sense why 7.8% of the American population suffers from diabetes. Same thing with sodium.
And I haven't even gotten to the preservatives yet.
Growing up in farm country, I developed a sense very early on for the economic struggles that come with farming. I watched "city folk" move up to the country, full of dreams and ideals, start a small commercial farm, and end up bankrupt.
How does this happen when you're producing a commodity that is always in demand? It happens because of laws and regulations that favor massive, industrial farms over small, family-owned ones. It happens because the government fixes prices for food, often below the cost of production.
Rather than contribute to the problem, we do our best to buy our food from local producers here in Ohio, and to favor small producers over big ones. Even though we're just two people, we're two people whose entire food budget is a yearly vote for small farmers, and I feel good about that.
Neither Mr. Scrimp nor I feel entirely comfortable with calling ourselves "environmentalists." That label is implicitly attached to a lot of behavior we disagree with, and a lot of political opinions we don't hold.
That being said, we believe very strongly in caring for the environment, maintaining sustainable farming and food production, recycling, composting, humane treatment of animals, and responsible conservation of energy whenever possible. Every single one of those has practical reasoning behind it, usually based on economics and health considerations, which is why this is number three on the list instead of number one or two.
I'm by no means convinced about global warming. I don't believe it's ethically wrong to eat animals (in fact, I eat them frequently, and enjoy them). I have no problem with farming, when it's done traditionally, or hunting, when it's done for food.
The problem is, "conventionally" grown or raised food (and by the way, how did our crazy, industrialized, modernized, totally unnatural methods of raising food manage to get the title of "conventional"?) doesn't fall in line with any of the things I believe in.
This really ought to be higher up on the list. I like the taste of organically grown produce and grass-fed meat better, and I am a girl who cares a lot about her food.
It bothers me to not know where everything I'm eating comes from. Everything else that comes into my house comes into it with intention, that is to say, I have thought about its source and I'm willing to let it influence my family. Why should food be any different?
When I make my own bread, or pasta, or dessert, when I wash dirt off my lettuce and cut it up myself instead of pulling it out of a bag, I am forced to think about what I'm eating, ingredient by ingredient. I know that there's no soy or corn being slipped in when I'm not looking. I feel good about what I eat, because I know that it's nourishing and that there's nothing fake in it.
We're not perfect. We eat at restaurants. Sometimes we even get fast-food. Sometimes we're lazy and buy something pre-made. Sometimes we buy produce that comes from Mexico instead of down the road. But even those are decisions that we make consciously, and almost always after a discussion of its relative merits.
When I started this, I didn't think I would become someone who cared about it so much that I would try to get everyone I know to do the same. However, the change in my sense of well-being, and in Mr. Scrimp's, the change in our health, in our weight, and in our happiness about how we eat, makes me want to share this way of life with everyone around me. I've reached a point where I'm pretty disgusted by what I used to eat. I have trouble even going into certain areas of the grocery store now, knowing that what's being served is nothing but a melange of plastic and chemicals, cheap because they aren't real.
It seems like a big change, but it really wasn't, and every change we've made has been for the better. Isn't it about time you gave it a try?