It’s hard to pinpoint where it really started. The desire to transform the way we eat. And to produce as much of it ourselves as possible. It wasn’t during my semester in France living on baguettes and cheese. It probably wasn’t on a Valentines double date in college where we thought it would be funny to purchase Wendy’s chicken sandwiches as our “fancy” meal. And it definitely wasn’t the night we decided to get married over a box of Annie’s mac and cheese!
Pacific Northwest Beginnings
Growing up in Portland, Oregon, I was fortunate to be surrounded by family that embraced cooking at home and taking advantage of a climate where you can grow just about anything. We spent our summers picking berries, making jam, canning peaches and stopping at nearly every fruit stand along the famous Fruit Loop in Hood River. I still stand by the claim that nothing beats an Oregon strawberry warmed in the sun and eaten fresh from the garden.
Yet there’s still something about the allure of processed and packaged foods to a child. I vividly remember stashing Fruit by the Foot and Gushers in my clothes drawers so my siblings couldn’t get to them first! So, while my parents had good intentions and even indoctrinated me enough that my 6-year-old self felt confident telling my aunt that I couldn’t eat Kraft macaroni and cheese because it was “the chemical kind,” my diet still resembled the standard American diet in many ways.
The Maker’s Diet...and Steve’s other wellness trials
In college Steve raced bikes competitively and was always reading up on the latest wellness trends. After reading The Maker’s Diet he began adhering to a more kosher diet – no pork, no shellfish, intermittent fasting…and thus began our experiments with food and how certain elements affected our overall health. At the time Steve lived with a roommate who had formerly worked at an upscale restaurant on the east coast. He’s the one who taught us the value of a sharp knife and buying the highest quality ingredients you can afford.
A few years later while working as a paramedic up in Boulder, Steve and his partner decided to follow a strict paleo diet (no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no refined sugar) for the 40 days of Lent. During this time I discovered the joys of blogs and podcasts and soon began following several people that would be influential in our move to eating a real food diet:
"Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much."
I was pregnant at the time with our first child and was soaking up all the information I could find about parenting, nutrition and overall wellness. I distinctly remember listening to a webinar by Katie of Wellness Mama and scribbling notes about introducing first foods such as bone broth, egg yolks and liver and thinking about how far apart this was from the standard advice of beginning with cereal grains. The more I heard about focusing on the microbiome of the gut, the more I wanted to learn and it wasn’t long after that we began brewing our own kombucha and making our own batches of sauerkraut.
While we don’t always follow a strict Paleo diet now, it was a turning point for us in making conscious choices to eat more whole foods and avoid refined and processed foods. There are certainly nights when we both arrive home from long days at the office and turn to something quick and easy, but most days we try to plan ahead so we can still feed our family real, whole foods that haven’t been processed. I think often of the advice Michael Pollan gave in his book Food Rules – “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.” Now those are words to live by.