Real Food Challenge


So, I’m doing this Real Food Challenge thing. Call me wacky. Or fringe-y. But I’m doing it anyway.

Starting March 1st, a group of  people will be committing to a month-long challenge of eating less (or no) processed/packaged food, as well as many other related goals. I’ll be highlighting what I am doing as well as tidbits, recipes, ideas and information I glean from others.

Why? Ah,the Love!

My interest in real food, sustainability and healthier eating started about 8 years ago with a CSA box full of things I didn’t yet know I liked. Winter squashes. Kale. Garlic scapes. Beets. All kinds of “bizarre” things that I would search for recipes to use. It was a hoot. I was single & living in my lil’ bachelorette pad. I was learning how to cook all over again, making up recipes, eating strange meals and drinking wine. Seriously, it was awesome!

Why? Argh, the Rant!

My attention more recently has turned to the dismal state of our food system and (in)security. How the hell did we get here? How did we get so far removed from where our food comes from? Want to know the answer? Corporate greed. Corporations willing to sacrifice your health (and ultimately your life) to make a few more bucks. Wake up people!  Marketing, pricing, subsidies… all for a lot more money for a handful of people at the expense of your health. The greedy soul-sucking jackasses. It is disgusting & criminal.

The result is that a whole lot of people no longer know what ‘real food’ actually tastes like.   Sure, they know what additives, preservatives and artificial flavors taste like. They know what corn and soy (and the bajillion byproducts they produce) taste like. Even our meat is chock full of soy, corn & antibiotics (again, to make a quicker and bigger buck.) But real food? Not so much. Go the store and start reading labels. Frightening.

The health issues we face due to diet are staggering. Diabetes, obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndromes… to name a few. DIET RELATED. Totally related to the complete crap the food industry has pumped in to our food supply & “normalized.” We get unhealthier as a country by the year. Think it doesn’t (or hasn’t yet!) affected you? Think again. The cost to the health care system FOR PREVENTABLE DISEASE is significant enough that I think the food industry should subsidize our health insurance.

Anecdotally, as an oncology nurse, we have had a recent influx of 20-something year olds with stage 4 colon cancer. Not coincidently, this is the age of people who have grown up in a world where food is actually just chemicals, additives and high fructose corn syrup. A 20-year-old with stage 4 colon cancer (and no rare genetic disease) is 99.9% diet and environmental. Think about it.

Sadly, as with most issues, the already marginalized bear the biggest burden. Unhealthy food is “cheap” food. (Cheap to buy, expensive in societal costs.) It is fast food. It is convenient food. However, I’ll save access issues for another post because it is huge.

To be frank, I’m really pissed off by it all. Incensed. Like so many, I feel helpless. So, I educate myself. And I grow. I’m gardening away my anger and disgust. I’m growing as much food as I can for my family. I’m learning to preserve food. It’s a journey of resistance to greater self-sufficiency, as well as a big fuck you to the industrial food complex.

It is that or lay down slowly and die. Ok a bit dramatic, but that is how desperate I feel.

And yet, it isn’t enough. I want to do more. I want to go further.

Garden Kitchen Growandresist

Real Food Challenge

Enter Not Dabbling in Normal and the Real Food Challenge! I’m really excited for this month-long challenge to kick it up a notch and bring on new level of change. And I’m glad I have some community & accountability along the way.

My Rules:

Many of the things I’ll be doing are things we already do. I make all our bread. I use bulk grains, baking staples and beans. We eat pretty healthy. But the things that we don’t do… well, we haven’t done them for a reason. It is because, in the past, they seem “too hard. ” As I discovered with bread making, I hope I find out it isn’t that hard. You with me?

The bottom line: all real food with recognizable & known ingredients. Mostly local & organic.

No store-bought/packaged:

  • pasta
  • ice cream
  • crackers
  • bread
  • jams/jellies
  • yogurt
  • dressings
  • sauces or condiments
  • cookies/snacks/boxed mixes of any kind
  • canned/shelved items
  • preservatives, corn syrup or fillers
  • sodas or juice

Meat will be only local/organic. Produce will be local, in-season and organic. Only local milk, cream and eggs. Pasture-raised and no hormones/antibiotics for any meat, dairy or eggs.


  • chocolate (fair trade & locally processed)
  • oils
  • peanut butter (I love it. I hate other nut butters. I won’t give up PB. But it will be organic.  When I run out of our current stash, I’ll grind my own at my local co-op, PCC)
  • spices
  • coffee (fair trade and shade grown)
  • tea
  • Beer and wine (from Washington or Oregon).
  • Other booze & such. I’m going to allow hard alcohol that is already in the house, but won’t buy/drink anything other than that.
  • citrus. I need it. I’ll make sure it is west coast.

I have also decided I can go out to eat 3 times during the month. I would limit it completely, but early in the month is my birthday (it’s a biggie!) and I want to go out & celebrate. But I’m finally going to Orangette’s restaurant (which you can check out here) so it’ll likely fall mostly into my guidelines. Later in the month my folks will be in town and we’ll go out. Don’t suggest otherwise… you try and stop my mom from wanting to go out!  (love you mom!). I double-dog-dare ya’. I’ll sit on the sidelines having a good laugh. Plus a bonus outing or take-out just because it will keep my lovely ladyfriend happy.

Getting Ready

I’ve tried out some new kitchen tricks. I made mayonnaise and ketchup. For my birthday my ladyfriend is getting me a baking stone to up my bread-awesomeness factor. I cooked up a few batches of crackers. I made some granola bars. I am going to make yogurt and soft cheese at some point. I’ll be trying out more recipes in search of the keepers.

Here’s to real food (and to your health)!

A Few Resources & Inspiration:




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