Saturday, March 24, 2012

The high cost of good health...

My recent order from

Lent--and spring--are naturally good times for taking stock of things and cleaning house.  We tidy garden beds, wash windows, air bedding and dust the cobwebs from the corners.  Some of us find it a good time to unclutter our homes and sheds, drop off things at Goodwill and the dump, have yard sales.

It is a good time to rid ourselves of bad habits and try to establish good ones.  For Catholics, it is a time to grow closer to God by growing in virtue and rooting out vice.  A time to break our attachments to anything that stands between us and our Creator.

It is also a good time to develop better health habits.  That can be challenging with a large family.  One pays a premium for whole, organic, unadulterated food.  You would think that living in the country as we do that it would be easier to find real food, but it isn't.  The really big farmer's markets are in the larger cities, and so are the natural, whole foods markets.  You would think that the local Mennonite communities would be a good source for organic produce, but guess what: some of them use chemical pesticides.

We avoid GMOs, MSG and high fructose corn syrup.  We have cut back our sugar consumption.  We don't use things with artificial sweeteners.

We do have the advantage of having raised our own grass-fed beef, although our cow hasn't produced a bull calf in years, and our meat is running low at this point.  We have raw milk, from which we make our yogurt and butter.  We wonderful, orange-yolked eggs from our free-range chickens (who free-range all over my porch and sometimes into the road, where they meet untimely ends!)  What we lack is a decent garden and a local source for staples.  So I buy organic veggies at Wal-Mart, pay the extra for any non-GMO products I can find, and just buy regular produce, washing it all thoroughly with Fit Fruit and Vegetable Wash.  I have to limit my kids to two pieces of fruit each a day, and even with that limit, that's about 400 pieces of fruit a month!  Yes, we really, really, really need fruit trees.

I try to boost the nutrition of our food by sneaking in ground flax seed, nutritional yeast, and wheat germ.  I am still looking for a cheap way to get Omega-3 into the older kids.  The capsules are huge, and the gummies are pricey, and the emulsified cod liver oil I give to the little kids would get really expensive, too, if I gave it to the older kids.  We'd go through a bottle a week, which isn't feasible on our budget.

This mix, along with alfalfa, is my "blood-cleansing" spring tonic.  Warm, it tastes a bit like peppermint and lawn clippings, but sweetened with honey and iced it is quite good.

I have always been better about making sure my kids are getting what they need than watching what I do for myself.  I tend to skip meals, forget my vitamins, fail to drink enough water and sleep too little.  But I am trying to make a new start this spring.  I am 48 years old, my youngest child is two, and my five year-old has ADHD.  We are in the process of building a new "patch o' dirt" and the plans include a large garden, fruit trees, bees, and livestock.  I need all the help I can get.  If the cost of eating well is high, I'l tell you now that I can't afford to be unwell or lacking energy.

I shop the best prices for supplements, and decide what is most important in our diet (or out of it), and do the best I can.  I don't obsess about it if the kids eat candy now and then, or if they have a soda when we've been out all day.  I don't think the occasional drink of Kool-Aid, which I generally think of only as dye for wool and play dough, will kill them.  But I don't allow it to become a habit.

Ultimately, our lives are in God's hands.  We have so many factors which remain beyond our control:  things in our environment, genetic factors, exposure to germs, and so forth.  Ultimately, we have to place ourselves in the hands of our Creator and trust in Him.