Farmers Market Guilt

Eating clean: something we have been hearing about often, especially when you’re going through a program like Curvy in Thirty. For me personally, it is one of the biggest struggles to maintain a “clean” diet, especially when I’m not the one buying the groceries or have an income to supplement the eating habits that I like to maintain. So what would my IDEAL meals, refrigerator stock and pantry look like?

Girl, not like what it looks like now!

I just want to dive into this a little bit, and discuss why it’s so hard to include healthier, “clean” foods to your diet, and what some low cost options are for those of you trying to bring more balance to your meals.

I should add a disclaimer, however: I am no professional; I’m just a girl, living in a lonely world of carb cravings, and I want to start the discussion on how we can work together to create better meals, and even a better environment, for our overall health, and the health of our family members.

I should also say that if you haven’t talked with Maggie, Curvy in Thirty’s personal Nutritionist, she has amazing meal ideas, and if you are a part of the Curvy in Thirty community, don’t forget about the “Nutrition Vault” and all of the yummy ideas you have access to! So with that, let’s dive in!

I watched a video yesterday called “Everything Ian Somerhalder eats in a day.” It was one of those videos that just pop’s up on your video feed on Facebook and you watch because you have nothing better to do, and it could be interesting. If you’re not familiar with whom Ian Somerhalder is, he played in various shows, movies, etc. but his largest roll, I believe, was in the Vampire Diaries. Just for some clarification. Basically he describes his eating habits, how he starts in the morning, where he gets his food from, and how he prepares it.

His meals are large, fresh, with very little animal products, and locally or home grown. He describes his meals to be large handfuls of fresh, dark, leafy greens, healthy starches such as sweet potatoes or other root vegetables, paired with a fish product, or no meat at all. His liquid intake includes lots of tea, water, and coffee, most of which he says he whips in a Nutrabullet with some coconut oil to bind the caffeine to a fat lipid to help it burn more evenly. He uses a lot of Pink Himalayan salt in his meals and in his drinks to provide electrolytes, and uses an assortment of high heat oils when cooking such as sunflower or olive oil as a fat. He also mentioned cooking in cast iron or ceramic coated cast iron, stating that any non-stick pans are “as toxic as the day is long,” and implores listeners to only use cast iron products. He explains how he tries to be very conscious about where his food comes from, trying to limit plastic packaging, and growing most of what they eat, or going to local farmers markets.

He provides an example of how hopefully someday in the future, farmers markets will start providing things like dish washing liquid in bulk, so that you can purchase it in glass, and refill when you run out. He explains that if just one million households do this, that saves something around sixty five million plastic bottles, while also supporting your local community. He then describes his dinner routine and how he makes it a priority to make sure everyone is home for dinner to dine as a family, and eats, again, their homegrown and local veggies in mass amounts. Something else he stressed in the end was making time for “cheat meals,” or as Dwayne Johnson would call them “treat meals,” stating that sometimes twice a week, he will indulge in large stacks of pancakes and eat high carb meals providing balance to his very green eating habits. And that was it! Whew, that’s a lot of information and a lot of different tips and tricks all mashed into a three minute video, or in this case a paragraph. I want to break this down a little bit, and kind of dive into some of the things that he talks about, the long term benefits and why this may or may not work for some people.

The main thing I want to discuss is that we have to look at his income. Obviously, a lot of us don’t have the income that a celebrity would have, meaning that supplementing fresh, locally grown vegetables, fruits and other food items may not be possible. Unfortunately in our society, the “healthier option” is often the most expensive option.

You can compare an organic apple to a “regular” apple, meaning an apple with GMO’s, grown industrially, etc. and find, sometimes, as much as a dollar difference. I know for my family, we have eight people living on our property, and when buying groceries, we often go for the cheapest option, because we have to buy more than a smaller size family would. As a celebrity that has multiple forms of incomes, investments, etc. he is able to financially purchase grocery items when and wherever he pleases, having no long term effect on his bank account. While I understand that my health, your health, is of the upmost importance, so is a roof over my head, electricity, water, and when you’re living in a middle to low class society, living paycheck to paycheck is a harsh reality for a lot of us.

So how can we combat this? How can we make “organic” food more accessible? I put organic in quotations because I had a discussion with a friend last night who works on a farm, and asked her if she thinks that the organic industry has become, in some senses, fraudulent. For small towns like ours, we are lucky enough to have most of our organic produce come from areas around us, giving us the benefit of getting out of the industrial produce production line. However, for bigger items like organic pastas, oils, packaged snacks etc. that would be considered an industrially produced item, and she agrees that labelling it “organic” could be argued. In my mind, organic also means sustainable. Using sustainable energy, using less plastic packaging, no production lines etc. and buying it from the person that produced it. I understand that the “organic Industry” is quite a bit more complex than that, but that’s where my mind goes to, and if I’m going to be paying upwards or four dollars more for “organic” chicken or banana chips, I want to know that it was sustainably sourced, and REALLY organic.

Unfortunately, when I think about the farmers market, I feel quite a bit of guilt. I look at their prices, and I know that I can buy the same thing in a Safeway for half the price. But I would be supporting that person’s family, putting their kids in college, helping them grow another year’s crop instead of giving my money to a corporation. But when you’re living on a budget, when you only have a certain amount of income and it comes down to a roof over your head, or paying the electric bill over buying a more sustainably sourced head of lettuce, I’m sorry but I’m going to go for the bills. And that’s not a choice I should have to make. I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my community’s sustainability, and my own health, over having a roof over my head. I shouldn’t have to feel guilty that I can’t afford farmers market quality produce over industrially packaged and GMO filled produce. But that is how our society is set up. So how can we combat this? How can we create quality produce that is sustainably sourced, local and organic?

The first solution is to grow it yourself.

While simple in logic, the execution can be seemingly difficult, especially if you are in an apartment or don’t have a particularly large yard space. There are ways around this, however.

Storage container growing is fairly simple. Depending on what you are trying to grow will dictate what size pot or container you will want to get. If you are trying to maximize your space, I would suggest getting your standard pot. If you are trying to grow more, however, upcycling an old storage tote, or buying a brand new one is a great way get more in a smaller space.

In an article by Brown Thumb Mama, she describes the best five plants to grow in storage containers or pots when urban gardening:

  1. The first being zucchini. This hearty bush plant will produce all summer for you, and contains loads of vitamin A, potassium, and other great nutrients, with little to no attention in the garden. Brown Thumb Mama suggests planting one start in a 15 gallon pot or storage container, or planting two starts around 20 inches apart. You will want to harvest your zucchini when they reach about 8 inches long, and can turn them into noodles, add them to a delicious stir fry or curry, or turn them into the most delicious zucchini bread. Either way, for a first time gardener, the zucchini will not let you down.
  2. The second recommended plant is green beans. Try any variety, there are several; bush beans, wax beans and snap beans to name a few. Green beans are so easy to take care of and will grow and produce quickly. I have had plenty of luck with seeds and planting them right into my raised beds or containers. If you are working with little to no space, I recommend avoiding the pole beans, because while very delicious, they will climb and bolt, and isn’t the best option for small space gardening. Bush beans are one of the plants I would recommend using a storage container for so that you can fit more into one area, and be able to harvest more at one time. It’s recommended to plant the seeds 6-8 inches apart, and once the plant begins producing long, slender beans, they are ready to harvest, usually daily! Green beans contain lots of vitamin C, vitamin A, and other key nutrients that your body needs. They are also great in stir fry’s or just on their own as a great addition to any meal!
  3. The next plant variety is the “Bush Slicer” Cucumber. There are many different varieties of cucumbers apparently, but when urban gardening, Brown Thumb Mama insists on using the “Bush Slicer” variety for the sake of space, and for the overall sweet taste! Normally you would need a trellis for cucumbers, but not this variety! Put your start in a 12 inch pot, or add two plants to a pot that is at least 18 inches across and space them out 8-10 inches apart. Then let them do their thing! Cucumbers are particularly hearty and are ready to harvest when they are around 6-8 inches. Cucumbers have amazing amounts of nutrients, and just one cup a day will give you nearly 20% of the recommended amount of vitamin K you need! Cucumbers also contain potassium and vitamin C, and are a great addition to any cold salad!
  4. The fourth plant variety is the “Pot of Gold” chard. While there are many different types of chards, the “Pot of Gold” chard is particularly delicious and beautiful to look at. With its dark leafy exterior and golden stocks, it will bring a vibrant look to any garden! Brown Thumb Mama suggests only planting 1-2 chard seeds per pot, planting them 8 inches apart, and within a couple weeks you will have a pot full of your luscious, “golden” chard. It’s recommended to start harvesting the outside chard leaves first, allowing the inner stocks to continue to grow to maturity. Chard is another vitamin packed plant, containing calcium, vitamin E, magnesium and much more. Add this bitter sweet leafy green to any salad, or blanch in stews or stir fry’s for that little pop of color and taste and you won’t be sorry!
  5. Our fifth and final recommended plant is the “Jade Gem” Lettuce. This quick growing lettuce variety is perfect for any apartment balcony garden, and can hold several heads in just one pot! Because its growth period is just 30 days, the Jade Gem Lettuce is a popular variety for any gardener, not just urban growers. Plant the starts or seeds at different times and you can be harvesting your very own salad mix weekly to get those greens in! Make sure to plant your little starts 6-8 inches apart and let them do their thing. This little lettuce variety contains loads of vitamin A, and is the perfect vessel to add any other fresh veggies to for a beautiful mid-summer garden salad. Add in your cucumbers, a little bit of your chard, and you’re ready for any back yard or patio barbecue!

Now, with all of these plants, it is recommended to look at the instructions that come with the start or the seed to see what types of soil they like, and what will work best for the type of container you are using. Look at when you need to plant your starts or seeds, and when their harvest times will be so that you can make sure not to let them over-grow or go bitter. It is also recommended to use a diluted fertilizer at least once a month to ensure happy vegetables and nutrient rich soil.

Brown Thumb Mama has plenty of other advice for urban gardening, and I will attach her link for this article below so that you can check out her tutorials and other advice! Another great outlet for any type of gardening advice or for any questions you have when considering any type of garden, urban or otherwise, is Pinterest. There is so much advice on how to plant your produce compatibly, how to configure things for the best visual results, and new ideas on how to make your produce better than ever! It definitely resulted in a pretty successful garden for my family this year so I highly recommend it!

Another great option for suburban gardening is a mason jar herb garden. Super easy to do, doesn’t take up much space, and is little maintenance with high reward! There is nothing better than being able to get fresh clippings of herbs when you’re cooking! All you need is wide mouth mason jars that can easily be purchased at any store location that has a canning section, (Bi-Mart, Wilco, Coastal Farm etc.) rocks for filtration, and some potting soil. Plop in your seeds or starts, place in moderate sunlight inside or out, and you have an easy little herb garden right at your fingertips! I will add a link for further instructions below!

Now while these ideas don’t solve everything when it comes to eating clean, I believe that gardening and starting the journey of growing your own food is the beginning of a bigger realization:

  1. You are capable of being self-sustainable. All it takes is a little elbow grease and some motivation and you’re on your way! Plus it’s a great way to get outside and get active!
  2. It makes you recognize the quality of good produce, and how growing it yourself, even in small amounts, can give you the encouragement to include fresh ingredients in your cooking.
  3. It encourages you to eat in more! I love convenience food, but there is something about creating something yourself, from the produce that you grew yourself, that makes it taste THAT much better.
  4. By growing your own produce, again even in small amounts, you are improving the air quality around you, you are limiting plastic waste, and you are limiting the money spent at large corporations. Again, I’m a huge fan of convenience, and feel and understand that guilt when I can’t afford farmers market quality produce, but taking small steps to take back some of that control is key to any health journey!

So, in conclusion, is there some truth to Ian Somerhalder’s statements about eating clean? Absolutely! Are some of the things he does totally odd and maybe a little hard to rationalize? Totally. What it comes down to is what works best for YOU. How can you make those little changes to improve what you’re eating and what works best for you in your budget? Again, I’m no professional, but I understand what it’s like to have minimal income and I also understand the importance of a healthy, sustainable diet that is actually obtainable. Until next time!

5 Best Container Vegetables

DIY Mason Jar Herb Garden

What Ian Somerhalder Eats in a day





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