Returning To Our RootsThu 26 Apr 2012
Story by Richard and Terrie Barrow
Healthy, Organic & Seasonal
Feeding your family healthy, organic, seasonal foods may not be as expensive as you think. If you source those foods yourself, rather than buying them, it can be very affordable. Our family’s solution was to go back to our roots and teach our kids, and ourselves, to eat the way our parents and grandparents did.
Until the last 50 years or so, our ancestors raised most of their own food; relying on stores only for basic ingredients they couldn’t grow or produce themselves. We started slowly, with a garden, and over the last 5 years have reached the point where we grow, or make, the vast majority of what we eat. We’ve done this by learning to do things one at a time until they become second nature. If you take it slow, you can eventually produce wonderful food and never miss the fast food or processed junk we learned to think of as normal.
In 2007, we decided to make raising food a priority because of concerns we had with how modern food is processed and its effect on our family’s health.
We grow most of our own vegetables and herbs. We keep laying hens for eggs, and raise meat chickens that we process twice a year for the freezer. We raise some vegetables year round, along with tilapia and catfish, in a backyard greenhouse/ aquaponics system. We even purchase and process our own pasture raised pig once a year and do all the butchering, curing, and sausage making ourselves. And yes, our kids help with it all!
In the kitchen, we eat seasonally, basing our menus around what is harvested out of the garden, and what we have in the freezer. It took us a long time to get to this place, but starting can be as simple as planting a few seeds or learning to cook a few easy meals from scratch. Believe us, the rewards are infinite.
Here are a few easy, affordable first steps to begin feeding your family better tasting, healthy food:
Start A Garden
We started with a couple of 4x4 raised beds. Plant a couple of easy to grow vegetables you like. You’ll be amazed at the flavor and quality. If you don’t have space, plant a few herbs in pots, or find a neighbor, friend, or relative who is willing to let you garden in their yard for a share of the produce. Get creative!
Cook At Home
This was hard for us at first. After fighting traffic to and from our hectic jobs, we just wanted to get home and relax. Eventually we realized with a little planning and weekend preparation, we could cook something delicious in less time than it takes to round up the kids and go out for fast food, or to a restaurant. Save the complicated dishes for the weekends when you have more time, and have the whole family help. During the week, we stick to simple meals like pasta, veggies, salads, eggs, or my favorite, leftovers!
Stock Up In Season
When things are in season, we can or freeze the extra. When most people think of canning they imagine lots of equipment and huge pots, but, in reality, most of our canning and freezing is done in small quantities. For example, if we get 3 pounds of greens out of the garden, we will wash them all, wilt them down, put half in the freezer and use the other half for dinner. If you don’t mind large quantities, you can get great deals from your local farmer in season and really save.
Make Your Own
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to make things at home you are used to buying. Homemade peanut butter, mayonnaise, jelly, bread, and granola taste so much better; you’ll wonder why people ever started buying it. Start with something simple, like peanut butter, and go from there. We make organic peanut butter for a fraction of the price it would take to buy it.
Chickens are amazing pets. They are easy to take care of, quiet, funny, and, in exchange for their care they give you fresh eggs. What could be better? They also provide excellent fertilizer for your organic garden. Our favorite part of the day is relaxing in our swing, watching the chickens slowly graze across the backyard. Oh, and the eggs are delicious!
About the authors: Richard and Terrie Barrow both work full time and are raising two teen-aged boys. In their spare time, they write a blog www.green-cityzen.com about their adventures feeding their family organically grown, seasonal, unprocessed food from their 1/2 acre yard in Nashville, TN.
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