10 Things I Learned About 10 Days of Real Food

Bulk Section of my Local Food Co-op

Well, the 10 Days of Real Food is over. I’m very glad to have had so much support in taking this food journey with our family. I thought I’d wrap up my final post about the challenge with a list of 10 things I learned through the process.
#1 Convenience– It is so much easier to buy a box of cheese crackers than it is to make them. This also applies to bread. Finding that balance between keeping your sanity and making wise food choices is important. If you have a busy life and want to feed your family real food, being organized and having a meal plan is be essential. I think I’ll keep buying my bread from the Old Mill Bakery because I love it and they grind their own grains, and that’s more than I can do at the moment. I will still make some of my own bread. I plan on starting my sourdough this week. I’d like to keep an index card of a few simple, real food meal ideas I can make quickly on hectic evenings.
#2 Money-Eating a diet rich in organic, healthy whole foods can cost more than a diet of less quality foods. If your family eats meat, then that is an additional expense. We eat a diet rich in eggs(our own), legumes and fresh veggies. These are budget friendly foods. We do purchase local raw milk and cheeses, these are a bit more pricey – but worth it in my book. Taking advantage of buying in bulk for rice, beans, and grains can really save you money. Making your own foods such as yogurt and bread can really save you money too. Buying into a CSA or shopping at your local farmers market are budget friendly ways to put a priority on fresh, local produce. The best way to save money and have fresh produce is to grow your own garden. I am making it a priority to learn how to can this year and learn more about food preservation.
#3 Keep it Simple-Apples, cucumbers, carrots, and strawberries are very simple snacks that children LOVE. No need for a lot of prep work. Slice, dice and serve. My kids ate so much raw fruit and vegetables this week, it was wonderful. Why wasn’t I doing this before?
#4 Kids eat what you feed them.- I keep repeating this to myself as I’m walking through the grocery store. If I don’t buy boxed snacks, they won’t eat them. Lisa had an excellent article on the subject called Kids Eat Processed Food Because Parents Give It to Them. 
#5 Inspiration– I was feeling bored and tired with the food I was feeding my family. This 10 Day Challenge got me excited about food again. Using my Pinterest board along with a few healthy cookbooks as guides, I was filled with inspiration to get me out of my boring food rut. We ate creative, fantastically flavorful food all week. No one went lacking. I tend to get into a rut when I don’t have access to all the fresh veggies, I guess it’s the winter food blahs. I’m so pleased the farmer’s markets are starting up again. They serve as weekly inspiration for me.
#6 Food can be fun.-This kind of goes along with #5. Being uninspired makes for boring food. When you are inspired by your ingredients you make great food. Adding fruit chunks to a bamboo skewer and calling it a kabob makes kids happy. Getting your children involved in preparing the food makes it fun for them. They are also more willing to try what you’re cooking if they helped make it.
# 7 Connect to your community.- I get very excited to find a new real food provider in the area. I love the farmers market and knowing the names of the farmers. I love knowing Dave made my bread or Morel grew my lettuce. I feel better that my money is going directly to the farmers and their families. This means the money goes directly in my community. Knoxville has some amazing food providers such as Green Chin Farms ( they currently have milk shares open) , A Place of the Heart Farm, West Wind Farms, Wisner Farms, Mountain Meadow Farms, Cruze Farms and so many more.
#8 Eating out is the hard part.- The biggest struggle to eating real food according to the rules of the challenge was eating out. It’s very hard to know what is in each sauce, dressing, and bread. Knoxville has some fantastic food places that focus on local, healthy foods such as 31 Bistro, Harry’s Delicatessen and don’t forget the Old Mill Bread Company for lunch. I plan to support these businesses more when eating out.
#9 Health benefits– Not consuming processed sugar for 10 days didn’t turn my children into perfectly behaved angels and we weren’t miraculously healed of all aches and pains. However, I do believe that the standard American diet filled with refined sugar, salt and artificial colors and flavorings does cause illness. Diabetes, cancer and a host of other diseases are in many cases directly related to diet. So I really hope to stick to my guns and eliminate the excuses when it comes to junk food. I want my kids to have a real food immune system. I learned sugar is everywhere. At least I’m aware now and I’m on the lookout.
#10 Definition of Real Food– Lisa set up some rules for the 10 Day Real Food Challenge mostly based from Michael Pollen’s books. I think setting boundaries was essential for the challenge, however, my personal definition of real food varies a bit. I won’t be following the 5 ingredient rule, if I can read the ingredients and they are whole foods, it’s alright by me. I’m sure we’ll be eating sugar though I’m hoping to get cooperation in following a rule of 5 grams or less in any packaged products we purchase. Have you come up with what defines real food in your home?
The challenge was a positive experience for my family. It brought to our attention a few weaknesses in our diet and helped us make some changes.  It was a springboard for a lot of discussion on real food with my children, friends, and family. I am really thankful for all of my friends who joined along with me. Thank you to all of the bloggers that joined me (Couponing in Critical Times, Simply Natural MomCoupon Katie, Frugallisa Finds, Blue Frog CreationsLiving Peacefully with Children and The Artful Mama) your insights and honesty were inspiring.
Rebecca at Simply Natural Mom wrote a wrap-up post for the 10 Day Challenge which includes some yummy recipes. Gabe from Couponing in Critical Times also wrote a post telling what she learned from the Challenge. I hope you’ll check them out.
What are your favorite real food local resources? Please share!!
This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays and Simple Lives Thursday

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