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You are a homesteader, and a darn good one too! You grow your own organic food, raise your own livestock for meat and milk, make your own medicines–you are a busy person! Despite the fact that you do all of these things–and most likely, get a lot of exercise doing them–you still find yourself sluggish, tired, and gaining weight faster than all get out! Am I right? What’s probably missing is clean eating, and it’s a powerful thing you don’t want to miss on your homesteading journey.
When I think of country living, I think of things like freshly made pie from my home-grown apples. I also think of fresh, cold lemonade in the summer made from our Meyer lemons. How about an awesome home-raised burger on homemade rolls? Do you think of amazing foods like these too?
All of these foods are definitely going to be more nutritious for you when you make them at home, of course. Add to that the fact that you actually raised those foods, sans pesticides and chemicals, and you’ve got a great combination. But while they are generally better for you when compared to their commercially-made counterparts, are they really the best daily choices for your body? Probably not.
What Is Clean Eating
Chances are, you’ve heard the phrase “clean eating”. If you haven’t, in a nutshell, clean eating is just eating your foods more closely to “whole”, and limiting the processed foods which are so prevalent in our grocery stores. It is vastly different than the standard American diet, which according to this article, scores an 11 out of 100 in dietary quality.
There is more to this way of eating, but for the sake of ease, we’ll keep it simple here. Here are a few guidelines, as outlined by the Mayo Clinic:
- eat more real, natural foods
- eat for nourishment
- eat more plant-based foods
- limiting highly processed, packaged foods
- cutting back on foods with added salt, sugar or fat
- avoiding foods that are drastically altered compared with their natural form
- preparing and eating more foods at home
Why Should Homesteaders Care About Eating Clean?
Well, because clean eating is powerful for you, and for me! I know, that’s kind of a vague answer in itself, but it is true. Clean eating has the capacity to keep you in healthy, tip-top shape for all of the work you have before you each day. In addition, clean eating can help you in other ways not involving your health.
Taking the Easy Road
Think about how many times it’s easier to just order pizza after a long day outside in the garden. Or how wonderful it feels to “treat yo’self” with a big slice of pie after dinner, or a couple of glasses of wine. Why not? They’re homemade!
While those things aren’t damaging in moderation, if you’re like me, you can often slip into the mindset that you deserve to have them daily. After all, you’re not eating out all the time, and the foods you make from what you produce is better than purchasing it premade from someone else, right? And hey, you work hard every day!
However, consider these points:
- if you are doing those things and you are feeling sluggish, tired, and generally not at your best, these may not be your best choices
- if you are gaining weight despite the fact that you don’t live a sedentary lifestyle, you may be eating too many foods that aren’t good for your body
- if you are suffering certain mental health issues (like anxiety and/or depression), you could be working against your body to function correctly
- if you are finding that you are often eating out (or ordering in) when your refrigerator is full of chemical-free, pesticide-free, hormone-free, and other-icky-stuff-free foods, then you may not be making the best choices for your long-term health
In addition to those things:
- if you are finding that you are throwing away (or composting) the food your are producing on your farm, you may not be doing the best that you can be for your finances
- if you are guilty of the above, you are not only hurting your finances (even if just a little), but you are wasting time and money every day cultivating your gardens, raising your livestock, or whatever else you are doing to raise your own food
What Are the Rewards for Clean Eating?
There has to be a reward for changing your life drastically in the area of your eating habits, right? I get you. But know that while these rewards will be hard-won, they will be very lucrative in many ways. Nothing that’s worth anything is free, right? Hard work really pays off, but it’s a long game. But you are ready for this, and to reap these rewards:
You Will Feel Better
This won’t feel like it immediately, but it will yield the most profit of all three points I make. The reason is because by switching to clean eating, every meal will take you closer to better health. Here are some results you might experience (everyone’s different, remember):
- increased energy to complete your tasks for the day on your farm.
- clearer mind
- less stress
- ability to relax when it’s time to do so
- you may lose weight
Of course, we know that eating more plants means fewer calories. A simple way to do this is to limit servings of the fattier foods on your plate. Fill all that empty space with fruits and vegetables.
We also know that eating highly processed foods regularly is not good for our bodies. This is because there are chemicals and fillers involved in producing and making them shelf-stable. Often times those chemicals and fillers can disrupt the way our bodies work. This can cause mood swings, brain fog, stress, and more. Your food choices will make all the difference in the way you feel.
You Will Be Using What You Produce
Let’s face it–hard work gives us a fantastic sense of accomplishment. If you are like me, you feel like you deserve something after a hard day’s work! You do.
But not fast food!
What you deserve is a homemade meal that includes the ingredients that you raised with your own hands. You deserve a meal that is colorful and beautiful, and full of the nutrition you worked so hard to keep in your food by growing your own! You deserve a meal that will be kind to your waistline, especially when it includes these vegetables which are all fabulous for weight loss!
By eating from your very own garden-grown stockpile of food, you are improving your health. (The health of your pocket book is also improved!) You will be partaking of all of those wonderful nutrients that are still present when you eat freshly harvested foods. Older, staler, less (or non-)nutritious versions of those foods are what you receive when you buy from the store.
To make this easier on yourself, harvest every two-three days. Think of how you usually consume these foods. Then make a plan to prepare your vegetables and fruits in a way that makes them easy to grab after a hard day’s work. Eating some of your produce raw as a side dish will make it quicker to grab and go.
One of my very favorite salads to have includes strawberries, nuts (pepitas or slivered almonds), and a little cheese on a bed of salad greens with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. It’s my go-to salad and it always tastes good on the fly! Add an orange or some other fruit on the side, and of course, a protein source, and I’m in heaven!
You Will Save Time
Say whaaat? Yes, you will save time! By keeping your meals (mostly) restricted to what you produce on your farm, you will by virtue be more limited in your food choices. Fewer food choices may not be the most fun, but they are much less distracting when figuring out meals.
Now that’s not to say that you won’t ever shop to fill in the gaps — I do every single week! But you will find ways to use what you’ve got, which will aid in eating what you produce.
But how does that save time?
- you will spend less time thinking about your food (this is more of a “long run” thing)
- you will learn preparation tricks that make it easier for you to use what you produce on a daily basis
- you will redeem the time you spend each day or week producing your own food, rather than wasting it
A Scenario to Consider
Let’s take the scenario where you are deciding whether to make your dinner or order out. You think that ordering out will take less time, but it won’t, because pizza takes at least 45 minutes to arrive.
In the mean time, you putter around, hungry, and doing little things that don’t matter while you wait for the piece de resistance to arrive. (Or should I say “pizza de resistance”? I shouldn’t? Ok, I won’t.) In the time that you spent waiting on the pizza, you could have prepared and eaten a much more nutritious meal using vitamin and mineral packed ingredients from your farm.
I know, that’s not as fun. But it’s true. And these decisions made daily will save your time. Here are a few books on the topic that I found on Amazon that look really interesting:
Of course, this isn’t an exhaustive list of what clean eating can do for you–it’s really just the tip of the iceberg. Eating the standard American diet has been studied and proven by many to be of detriment to our bodies when followed regularly.
For the homesteader, clean, healthy eating just makes sense, and returns power to us by keeping us healthy, saving our money and time, and aiding us in using what we’ve worked so hard to produce. It’s really a win/win choice to make!