Hits the spot

16 Jun 2010

Oh man, I love food. I really, really do. If I would have known that what I’d been eating all those years wasn’t actually food – if I’d have known how delicious and satisfying real food actually is – well, I suppose I’d have switched to eating organic, whole foods long ago.

I just turned yesterday’s leftover bread from grilled banana sandwiches into french toast topped with fresh organic strawberry wedges and banana slices, drizzled with 100% pure maple syrup.


There were two motivating forces behind my initial decision to go organic. They centered around my anger at the various government food regulatory bodies for siding with corporate lobbyists and neglecting to properly protect and inform the citizens of the US. They centered around a general disgust of the money-hungry machine that is the American food industry. I didn’t want my hard-earned dollars supporting a corrupt system with deplorable priorities. The organic market isn’t perfect, and is of course run by those same regulatory bodies – but it’s as good as I could do short of growing my own food (an endeavor that I can only minimally participate in, given my current living arrangement). Today, I purchase as much food as I can at local farmers’ markets, and buy the rest certified organic.

What I didn’t expect was the deluge of reasons why I would choose to stay organic – a million little happy reasons called my taste buds.

I need to be a little more specific here, because it is quite possible to go “junk food organic” – which, while slightly better than eating traditional junk food (at least you wouldn’t be consuming pesticides and genetically modified food-like substances), isn’t exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about going whole-foods organic. Starting with real food that came from the earth. Minimally processed food. Clean food. (Coincidentally, I am in love with a cookbook by the same name – Clean Food by Terry Walters).

It’s no wonder I didn’t like eating vegetables as a kid. When they all come from a can or a bag, or even worse – a box, guess what? They all taste the same. And when they’re swimming in pools of chemicals waiting for you to throw them into the microwave to be nuked – well, let’s just say that’s no way to treat a vegetable.

I’ve had a chance to try quite a few fresh vegetables in the past 6 months – fresh, whole, organic plants. I’ve played with different forms of preparation, from steaming to roasting to sauteing to grilling to eating them raw. I’ve learned the effects of each method of preparation on the nutritional values. And I’ve discovered something amazing – vegetables all taste different! They have subtle, delicious flavors – none of which even remotely remind me of the bland “green” flavor that I remember as a kid. Today, I fill my plate up with greens without a second thought – and not because I have to. Because they taste good.

Every week is a new adventure when you spend most of your grocery shopping time in the produce department. Once upon a time, I’d make it through the produce area in seconds flat, hurrying to get into the bowels of the grocery store where all the “real” food was. Oh, if I only knew! Today, I can easily spend an hour in the produce area, checking out the latest additions to what’s in season and new for me to try. If you told me a year ago that I’d become one of those “perimeter” grocery shoppers – one of those people that rarely set foot within the actual aisles of the grocery store – I’d have never believed you. I’d have declared it impossible, because what on earth would such a person eat?!

They’d eat real, whole foods. And they’d enjoy their meals more than ever before. So delicious!

Posted: June 16, 2010 at 12:42 pm

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Organic is Easy

06 Feb 2010

I waffled back and forth trying to decide if I should call this post, “Organic is Easy” or “So Much Good Food.” Both are so fitting!

When I climbed into this rabbit hole (thanks for the visual, Human Head!) of “going organic,” I expected to be up against quite a challenge. After all, I’ve gone low fat, I’ve gone low carb, I’ve gone vegetarian and back – and all were fairly huge shifts in how I shopped, how I ate, how things tasted, and – most importantly – how much I was forced to deprive myself of. I didn’t enjoy any of my other “ways of eating,” (mostly due to unpleasant taste and texture issues). I expected “going organic” to be pretty much like that.

It has been nothing like that! There has been a shift in how I shop (though shopping online from home and having groceries delivered feels like a luxury rather than a challenge). When I’m not shopping from Peapod, I do have to travel a little farther for my groceries to get to Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe’s, but it’s not that big of a deal. I’m a commuter, driving 50+ miles round trip every day for work. A few extra minutes in the car doesn’t phase me.

Other than that, though, I feel more like a kid in a candy store than a woman shackled to deprivation. Real food tastes SO GOOD! The flavors are so much better than anything I yanked from the freezer, pre-packaged, and threw in the microwave in my former life. And, preparing real food takes much less time than I imagined (or feared) that it would. I’m a busy person. I work 2 jobs (one full time, one half time) and go to school as a half time student, as well as take on occasional web and photography gigs on the side. For years, I’ve made the excuse that I just don’t have time to cook. In reality, it takes no more than a half hour per day to plan and prepare good food to eat – often less, because I make larger batches of a recipe when I have the time, then freeze the leftovers to throw in my lunchbox for those work days when I’m gone sun-up to sun-down.

The message I’d like to yell from the mountaintops: Quit with the excuses and stop feeding your body crap! Food is fuel. I feel like I am now intercepting and diverting a myriad of health issues that were likely barreling toward me: diabetes, heart disease, cancers…. Do it NOW before it’s too late! Some of these conditions are not reversible. I decided not to be the person sitting in a doctor’s office getting a grim diagnosis, wishing I’d have just started taking care of myself a little sooner. Don’t be that person. If you live in the US, the government isn’t watching over your health (sadly); the burden of education is on you. Find out what’s in your food and where it comes from. When you do, you just might come to agree that most of what’s sitting on the supermarket shelves is not actually food at all.

Posted: February 6, 2010 at 1:26 pm

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Avoid Pesticide Residues on Fruits & Veggies

30 Jan 2010

My lunch today included a big ol’ bowl of my front lawn. Well, not really – but in the past, I’m pretty famous for saying I wouldn’t eat a salad that looked like weeds pulled from my front lawn. (My mom is proud, I’m sure!)

Earthbound Farm Spring MixIn this week’s Peapod grocery delivery, I had them bring me a box of Earthbound Farm Organic Spring Mix for my salads. Instead of just plain ol’ iceberg lettuce, I’m now eating arugula, frisee, green chard, green oak, green romaine, lollo rosa, mizuna, radicchio, red chard, red oak, red romaine, and tango (half of which I’ve never even heard of!) One serving provides 130% of the day’s Vitamin A requirement and 50% of my Vitamin C, amongst other things. Not bad!! It’s fresh, it tastes great, and even the container makes me feel good – it was made from recycled plastic bottles.

I decided to check out Earthbound Farm’s web site, where I found a free downloadable pocket guide to Choosing Organic fruits and veggies. This brings me to the point of today’s post.

I’ve been pretty lucky to find so many options for buying organic produce in my area, with both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market a short drive away, and Peapod carrying a full line of organics. It’s not always possible to find organic versions of all of the fruits and veggies that you may want to eat, though. In those cases, try to focus on getting organic varieties of the fruits and veggies that are most likely to be covered in multiple pesticide residues in their traditional forms.

A trick to remembering which ones are OK to buy and eat as traditional non-organics, if you must: if it has a skin that you do NOT eat, the inner fruit or flesh is likely protected from pesticide residues.

However, if you eat the skin – chances are, it’s carrying pesticide residues. So, try to buy these fruits and veggies organic whenever possible:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Grapes
  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Cherries
  • Strawberries
  • Celery
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Lettuce

That way, you’ll avoid eating those pesticides! Do you really want to be eating chemical and biological agents designed to kill living things? I don’t!

Source: Earthbound Farm Pocket Guide to Choosing Organic

Posted: January 30, 2010 at 1:07 pm

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Adventures in Chopping

Adventures in Chopping
13 Jan 2010

Tonight I bring you the first in a series called, “Adventures in Chopping.” Sure, wielding a big, sharp knife may be child’s play to most of you, but to me? It’s confusing, intriguing, and simultaneously terrifying.

You see, I’m clumsy. ’nuff said.

At any rate, I’ve got a long day ahead of me tomorrow, and I know I will not be waking up early enough to feed myself properly. Since I now have a fridge full of produce (thanks to Peapod), I thought I’d better get chopping (literally and figuratively). I decided to make tomorrow’s breakfast tonight, so I can just grab it and go as I sleepwalk out the door in the morning.

The adventure started like this:
Googling how to chop peppers

Yes, I had to Google how to chop a bell pepper. I also had to Google how to chop an onion. Now you hush with the laughing!

It took me a good half hour to chop up one red pepper and one onion, but there was no bloodshed – and that’s a primary goal, right?

chopped red peppers

Mission accomplished.

On a side note, I have to share tonight’s dinner. I wouldn’t normally be so ga-ga over a sandwich, but this was the most delicious lunch meat I’ve ever had in my life… no joke. I will have to review it properly at some point. It was deli sliced herb turkey breast made by Applegate Farms – the organic meat company that touts, “There is no mystery to our meat!” The product description: “Our tender juicy turkey breast meat is lightly salted, coated with an earthy herb mix of parsley, rosemary and sage, then slowly roasted.”

I think that herb mix was more heavenly than earthy! Mighty tasty.

Applegate Farms Herb Turkey Sandwich

I wish I’d have gotten out the fine china for a sandwich of that caliber of deliciousness! (For the record: the sandwich was turkey breast with lettuce, mild cheddar cheese, and a little mayo on whole grain bread, with a side of vanilla yogurt with blueberries – all organic, of course!)


Posted: January 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm

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Welcome to Epic Organic!

Epic Organic News, Organic
10 Jan 2010

Hello, and welcome to Epic Organic! I’ll be your host, and I am Shelly. As I write this, I’m a 35 year old Chicago native (brr!) living in the southwest suburbs.

I began 2010 with a few resolutions. Continue eating natural and organic whenever possible. Try 10 new foods this year. Learn to cook.

I recently realized the foods I bought off the shelves of my local supermarket and ate every day weren’t what I had assumed them to be – in fact, some weren’t actually foods at all, but more like chemical concoctions made to resemble food. As I dove deeper into researching the US food industry and food labels and ingredients, I discovered frightening facts about genetic engineering, hormones, antibiotics, cloning, and other things that, quite frankly, don’t sound like they should be anywhere near my food.

Continue reading this post

Posted: January 10, 2010 at 9:57 pm

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