Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Latest Rampage (+I think I've found my food "niche")

Food. I love it. Probably a little too much. But you know what they say about not trusting skinny cooks - so it's all good. ;)

People who know me well know a desire to be a homesteader has been growing within me for several years now. I have drastically, though not completely, reduced the amount of processed foods from my family's diet, and learned a whole lot about cooking and preserving foods from scratch in the process. But right now, I'm feeling a serious urge to increase my knowledge about all things food, and I'm making even bigger changes. It's surprising to me how steep the learning curve is for us Americans to figure out how to do "real" food. It is counter-cultural, sometimes intimidating, even revolutionary in a way, to incorporate high-quality, non-GMO, organic/naturally-grown foods into a growing family's diet. And to do it on a dime? Double the challenge! 

Navigating the world of food is made even more difficult by the extreme opinions on every front. Food is up there with politics, sex and religion in the level of controversy discussing it can bring. Seriously. 

No animal products! No meat!
Animal products are fine if they are ethically raised.
Meat is ok if it was ethically, locally raised, and humanely butchered.
No animals or their products, but fish are ok.
No farm-raised fish, only wild caught.
Animals are fine raised on grain, just make sure they weren't given antibiotics or hormones.
Eat meat (and lots of it!) but only if it dined on a pesticide/GMO-free pasture.
Eating meat is fine, just don't eat too much of it.
No beef.
No pork.
Only Kosher or Halal processed meats.
Don't consume milk products at all. It's unnatural to consume another animal's milk.
Consume them only if they are pasturized, rBST free.
Consume them only if they are raw, from grass-fed cattle.
Only eat meat, dairy, eggs from local sources.
Stay away from all gluten.
Stay away from all grains.
Eat grains, but only if they are sprouted first.
Eat any kind of flour, just use a natural yeast.
Only eat older forms of wheat like Eikorn or Spelt.
Eat this that and the other food item, all the time - it's super healthy!
Eating this that and the other food item will give you thyroid problems!
I don't care about the nutritional value of this that and the other food item - it tastes really gross.
Don't eat anything from a can or that had a barcode on it.
Sugar substitutes help cut calories.
Sugar substitutes give you cancer.
No refined sugar, period.
Honey and maple syrup are fine replacements for sugar.
Honey and maple syrup are only good if they are raw.
No fat and skim milk wherever possible.
Full fat dairy, bacon grease and real butter.
Margarine, vegetable oil and canola oil are fine.
Only coconut oil and olive oil.
No food dyes, additives, unrecognizable ingredients.
Low carb diet.
Eat only fruit.
Eat everything cooked.
Cook everything in waterless cookware.
Cook everything in stainless steel or cast iron cookware.
Non-stick cookware makes clean-up a breeze and is a non-issue.
Eat everything raw.
All fruits and veggies should be peeled before eating.
All fruits and veggies should be eaten with the original skin.
Fruits and veggies should be consumed as juice.
Eat local food. Period.
Eat food grown from your own garden.
Eat only USDA Organic food.
Eat fruits and veggies grown with organic principles, but don't only go USDA organic. It cuts back diversity. 
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Being an American in this day and age makes it even harder to figure out how best to eat to nourish our bodies. Because our country has put so much value on eating cheaply and getting our food fast, we have allowed ourselves to become the greatest science experiment in the history of the world. Our food products are more different than any ever consumed in all of human history! And because of this (IMHO) we are sick, fat, greasy, tired, and paying a whole lot more for healthcare as a result of our malnourishment. Because we have been eating this highly processed food for decades now, and because food is so emotional for us, it is really hard to break the cycle and do something different. Especially when it requires time, work, or shopping in ways or locations outside our comfort zone and busy schedules.  

Navigating all of that is what I've been trying to do. For years. It's a never-ending battle with periods of learning and plateaus. Right now I am in the midst of a serious learning phase. 

Here are a couple of the things I've made very recently (some were things I've had on the back burner for several years):
Herbed Sourdough Rye Noodles (recipe on page #176 of The Nourished Kitchen), made with the sourdough starter (purchased from King Arthur). I have managed to keep my starter alive for about a month now. Don't plan on killing it any time soon! :) This book, The Art of Baking with Natural Yeast, is great for the sourdough newbie. Also beans. Lots of pinto beans. I have decided I spend way too much on canned beans. Canning will save us money, and decrease our BPA intake, as well as our intake of other unnecessary additives that find their way into canned food.

Homemade "Good Ketchup."
Homemade Ketchup. The recipe is on page #173 of Canning for a New Generation. I've done this one before, but I've decided we're never buying store-bought ketchup ever again. It's a new food Era in the Hepworth house, baby! 

Up-and-coming projects (that'll only take me about 30 years with the rate I've been going):

 - Adding lots of new recipes to our repertoire that are not only extremely healthy but also extremely delicious.
- Rendering and canning my own leaf lard. Try crackings for the first time.
- Making my own sour cream (it's only heavy cream and buttermilk, people!)
- Try raw, grass-fed milk for the first time. Make some butter with it, too.
- Making my own cheese, starting with Mozzarella.
- Fermenting and canning my own relishes, sauerkraut and pickles.
- Sprouting grains, legumes and seeds.
- Baking with sprouted grain flour.
- Baking with all kind of whole grains, not just wheat.
- Learning more ways to incorporate Kefir in my cooking than just smoothies.
- Once Squire graduates and we move, I want to learn how to garden with Permaculture principles. That'll be a doozey.
I think I've decided that I generally fit within the WAPF (Weston A. Price Foundation) camp philosophically. Though we don't eat that way fully yet. One step at a time. Someday, I'd love to have the majority of our food come from our own backyard. How awesome would that be?! But for now, I'm finding out other ways to get healthy foods in on a budget. I want to share a handful of resources I have found on my journey you may be interested to know about, too.

These books: 

I particularly love Jennifer McGruther's ,The NourishedKitchen. It is filled with wisdom and beautiful photos. It makes eating a traditional foods lifestyle so accessible.

These websites: - More info about WAPF - A natural food co-up. Buy in bulk and save. - A listing of grass-fed and pasture-raised meat producers. - Listings of raw, grass-fed dairies. - Food co-op. Get lots of produce for a great price. Organic option, too. (for Tucson and Phoenix friends) - A food rescue program. Pay $10 and get up to 60lbs. of produce, often organic! You have to be ready to process it within a few days though. - The best place to buy organic herbs and spices in bulk. - Love her blog for learning about homesteading topics. - Love her youtube channel for learning all things homestead.

Any other great resources you care you share, my friends?! Feed my obsession! (Pun totally intended.) Talk to me about the food in your life!


  1. I find that I really lean towards the Weston A. Price way of thinking, too! I don't have the means to go far into that way of living, but I definitely like it.
    I tried making a sourdough starter from scratch (without yeast), and that was a yucky science experiment. I've also tried soaking wheat flour in apple cider vinegar to break down the phytic acid, and that was just a sticky mess and the bread wasn't that great tasting. Someday when I get a wheat grinder I will soak my grains.
    The other problem is that my husband isn't totally on board with it--he loves some of his convenience foods. I try to incorporate a lot of healthy foods into our diets, but overall it's probably like 80/20 for both of us. For now, making most of my foods from scratch rather than buying products with lots of "extras" is my goal. I'll definitely have to look into making ketchup from scratch soon!

    1. Woohoo! We're WAPFies! ;) Don't think that is a real term, but it works! Haha! I've had some of the same difficulties you talk about, Suzy. There is definitely a learning curve to conquer with this stuff. The starter you buy from King Arthur has a great flavor, and it has been going since the 1700's. Highly recommend it! That is hard having a spouse that isn't totally on board. Though 80/20 is probably the most any of us could achieve when you think about eating out or with friends, family and such. I am hoping that by diving in a bit more with this approach to food, I will save enough not buying pre-packaged stuff to cover the cost of the higher quality ingredients. We'll see how it goes.



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