Where do we fit?

Before the days of word processors, writing this post would have resulted in a huge pile of paper balls on the floor beside my desk. There is no lack of ideas. I have too many, perhaps. My brain is full and has no room to shuffle everything together coherently. For those of you with Macs, envision a rainbow lollipop swirling in perpetuity. 

This weekend, I read a foodie blog belittling someone for eating tofu. Others joined in with comments, mocking vegetarians and anyone who would dare eat the Evil Soy. On the other side, I have also read vegan writings accusing meat-eaters of murder. Wow. There are so many rigid genres of food out there:  "real," vegan,  raw,  shameless decadence, gluten-free, low carb, and so forth.

Where do we fit? Sometimes I feel like I am walking into the high school cafeteria with my home-packed lunch, trying to decide on a table. I look in my lunch box, and see a cheese sandwich on homemade bread, an apple and some carrot sticks. I have a cup of coffee in my lug-a-mug. My meal is not vegan or gluten free. The carrot sticks are organic, but the apple is not because our local grocery store has a limited organic section. Coffee? That cannot be heathy...

Instead of trying to identify the Stealthy Kitchen by comparing ourselves to others, I can tell you what drives us:

Specific Dietary Needs. We need a low sodium diet and, like every mom, I try to get our kids to eat as many vegetables as possible. I have food allergies so certain ingredients are out. We avoid food additives like MSG, artificial flavourings, preservatives and colours.

Kindness to the Earth. We are aware that how we eat affects the earth: Meat takes a lot of energy to produce. Pesticides, chemical fertilizers and GMOs are contaminating our rivers and food supply. By supporting organic farmers and limiting our meat consumption, we help a little bit. Cutting back on processed foods cuts back on packaging waste, and helps a little, as does composting and recycling. Leading by example may show others how to help a little, and if our kids learn from us, we help the next generation, if only a little.

Shopping Locally. This one is tricky. We live in rural Iowa, and our local grocery store carries more brands of frozen pizza than varieties of organic food. Perhaps the demand is not there... yet. Thankfully, there is a local farmers' market in the summertime where we can stock up on fresh fruits and veggies. We buy what we can locally and shop online for the rest.

Money. Did I mention that I am a stay-at-home mom with two little kids? Quinoa flour costs ten bucks a pound, while I can still get a five-pound bag of unbleached wheat flour for ninety-nine cents (with a good sale and a coupon.) As much as I would like to cook with only organic produce and ancient grains, we eat on the cheap and mix in the good stuff. Scratch cooking allows us to eat as naturally as possible.

Animal Welfare. Factory farming is just wrong to me. I could go on and on about the food safety and food quality issues that arise from squeezing hens into crates to lay eggs onto conveyor belts or cramming sows into farrowing crates. Feedlot farming has been empirically linked to a deadly strain of E coli, one that gets into the water table and can cause outbreaks via municipal drinking water.

I would rather my family do without eggs than buy factory farmed ones. Thankfully, there is a guy down the street who sells fresh duck eggs for a dollar a dozen. We have gone years without pork until we found a local, old fashioned farmer who sells us an annual hog. A grocery store about twenty miles away is willing to custom-order pastured beef. Stealthy Dad hunts, too, for free-range, antibiotic-free venison.

Again, where do we fit?  Instead of choosing a table to sit at, I will share what I have brought with everybody.  If I happen to have a recipe that is meat and dairy free, I tag it as Vegan. I tag meatless entree dishes as Vegetarian, and always label the Gluten Free recipes to make them easy to find.

Come on in and see what I have to share. You might just find something to take away with you!

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