Real Food Face-Off: Edible Aria vs. Musings of a Housewife

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real-food-faceoff-button3 Welcome to the first Real Food Face-Off!

Over the next many weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to meet over two dozen incredible bloggers and hear their thoughts on Real Food.

There are those of us who, like me, have rather recently jumped into the Real Food movement with both feet while keeping our heads above water, those who have been fully immersed for a number of years, and others just testing the waters and making changes one baby step at a time.

Some of us write about food all the time, while others only tackle their palates when they are so inspired.

We are men and women, parents and grandparents, human beings trying to do the best with our food…and willing to share our thoughts with the world.

We are the 26 bloggers participating in the Real Food Face-Off, and we have a lot to say.Visit the Real Food Face-Off Introduction page for a full list of all the participants and the complete list of possible questions. Each week, only a handful of the contenders’ answers will be posted here.

Week One: Ren vs. Jo-Lynne

Ren jo-lynne

Ren at Edible Aria holds the trophy (awarded by yours truly) for the best photography of the most unique, gorgeous foods you’ll ever see, with a bonus medal for humility. His recipes intimidate me while they make me drool, and his support of others in the blogosphere is outstanding. I have had the best time watching Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife dive into Real Food since this summer. She made my granola bars a huge hit by vlogging them and is nothing short of roll-on-the-floor hilarious as she share her motherhood stories from a family deeply entrenched in reality.


Below are the answers to some real food questions, in the bloggers’ own words:

1. How do you describe the way you eat when someone asks you to define your food?

No processed foods whatsoever. My diet consists primarily of local, pastured meat, dairy and eggs, local fruits and vegetables in season and wild game and fresh seafood when I can manage it. I also grow vegetables and tons of herbs. In my pantry are things like dried beans, lentils, sprouted flour, organic spices and coconut milk and other items in their whole, natural state. This is a tough one, and I’ve been struggling with how to keep this answer authentic and succinct. Basically, I try to avoid industrially processed foods, particularly those with additives and preservatives. I cook from whole ingredients as much as possible. I try to eat fresh and local as much as possible, and if I buy as much organic as I can afford.

2. What was/is your major incentive for living a real food lifestyle? (How did you come to eat the way you do?)

When my eldest daughter became almost completely incapacitated with fibromyalgia a few years ago, I moved in to help with the kids, cooking, etc. Once the link between the Standard American Diet (SAD for short) and the severity her symptoms became apparent, we transitioned to a real food diet as defined by GAPS/NT (Nourishing Traditions). Today, my daughter is symptom-free and everyone is healthy and happy. Who wants to be sick? Not me! I have GERD and gastritis, and weight management is getting harder as I age, so I really wanted to feel better. But what inspired me to go whole-hog (no pun intended) into the whole food lifestyle was reading Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food and then Nina Planck’s Real Food. I’ve always been skeptical of industrial processed foods and have avoided low-fat products and artificial substitutions (such as margarine and fake sugars) so it wasn’t much of a stretch for me to to embrace whole food when I had some instruction on how to go about it. I also like the idea of supporting local farms. Read more about my “food conversion“.

3. If you only had energy for ONE make-from-scratch food, what would it be? Is your preference for taste or health?

I won’t sacrifice health for taste, but I won’t sacrifice taste without a fight! If I could make just one thing, it would be garlic and herb-roasted chicken with root vegetables. Peaceful, nourishing and comforting, that dish always brings me home. Bread, due to both taste and health. The junk in store-bought bread is shocking. Plus, my mom used to make homemade bread when I was younger, so I’ve always loved the taste and texture of the real thing.

4. What food was your favorite that you no longer eat (or shouldn’t eat)?

That long list includes things like frozen pizza, cereal, Dr Pepper and potato chips. Ugh! I guess I would have to say fast food – McDonalds and Chick Fil-A are/were my faves. I really don’t crave it anymore at all. It’s amazing, when you really think about what’s in that stuff, how the appeal diminishes rapidly.

5. What’s next on your list of changes to make?

Cutting the carbs is my final frontier. I really want to get in the habit of soaking our grains. We eat more grain than we probably should, so I’d at least like to make them as easily digestible as possible.

6. List your top 3 baby steps to move from a Standard American Diet to Real Food.

First lose the sugar, then lose the white flour. Lastly, lose the boxes and cans. Stop buying processed food. Find local sources for milk, meat, eggs and produce. Learn to make bread.

7. What is the worst food (or “food”) a person could possibly put into their systems?

A fast food burger with fries and soft drink represents everything that is wrong with the Standard American Diet. Sugar – hands down. I am trying to get my sweet fix from fruits and dark chocolate, and it’s amazing how much better I feel. And when I backslide and eat too much refined sugar, I feel absolutely nasty. Read this post for more on the hazards of sugar.

8. Name the top food scoring highest on both the nutritional and budget scale? (i.e., best health benefits for the lowest cost)

At up to 25% protein by weight and pennies per ounce, beans and lentils can be an important component, but don’t overlook pastured meat, eggs and dairy. Eggs, for sure.

9. Biggest drawback of real food lifestyle?

I honestly can’t name anything negative! It is a lot of work, and it isn’t cheap. Many people say they do it on a budget, but I’m shocked at how much we spend on food nowadays, even with all of the pre-packaged crap we have cut out.

10. How important is organic food?

It is extremely important to me that my food be ethically and sustainably raised or grown locally without the use of anti-biotics, hormones or pesticides. Which label is that? Insofar as organic means that food is grown with sustainable farming methods and without chemicals and synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics and animals are raised on pasture and in humane environments, it’s highly important. When it becomes another industrial giant, I’m not so sure. I’m thankful for some of the organic produce we can get from big companies, but I would rather eat non-organic, locally grown produce than organic produce that has been shipped across the country. See It’s So Much More Than Eating Organic for more.

11. Number one tip you tell your blog readers about eating healthy foods:

If you can reach 90% fresh (implies seasonal) and local, you will live long and prosper. Take baby steps. Do what you can, but don’t stress about what you can’t do or about what you haven’t gotten to yet.

Follow Ren on Twitter @ediblearia.         Follow Jo-Lynne @dcrmom.

Now it’s your turn! I’d highly recommend honoring my real food guests with a visit over to their blogs, Ren at Edible Aria and Jo-Lynne at Musings of a Housewife. If you have any questions or thoughts about their answers here, get a little discussion going by leaving a comment.

These contenders came to real food while seeking health. The next pair comes to whole foods while seeking God’s will. Be sure to come back on Tuesday for the next installment of the Real Food Face-Off, Rachel at Titus 2 Homemaker vs. Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS. Sign up for a free email subscription or grab my reader feed to make sure you catch them all. You can also follow me on Twitter.

Special thanks to Jo-Lynne from DCR Design for the fabulous Face-Off logos. Please visit her if you are a blogger looking for design improvements!


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Check out Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday for more real food stories.

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28 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    That was awesome! I can’t wait for the rest to come! Thanks so much for doing this. If I wasn’t so shy I would sign up to join you……but I’m totally happy with following along and reading what the others have to say! Thank you Ren and Jo-Lynne! I’ve been following Ren’s blog but didn’t know about Jo-Lynne’s so this is a great way to learn about other bloggers too!

  2. says

    This is great! I loved reading these stories. I tried to post on Jo-Lynne’s site twice, but it didn’t keep my post on for some reason . I’ll go over to Ren’s and see what he’s up to today. Can’t wait to read all the other pairings over the next month. :)

  3. says

    Fun, fun, fun! Its beginning to feel like we’re all family. :) I like it! I’m looking forward to the rest of this series and getting to know everyone.

    I learned so much – Ren, what a testimony about real food healing your daughter’s fibromyalgia! I want to hear more about that.

    Jo-Lynn, I agree with you that it is hard to keep the budget down when eating real food. :( I am on the same page with you about what is really organic.
    .-= Wardeh @ GNOWFGLINS´s last blog ..Poll: Grass-Fed Beef Prices =-.

  4. says

    Thank you for your message of stewardship and for all your work and dedication in putting the face-off together, Katie!

    Regarding question #2, it should be known that it was not any prescience or leadership on my part,
    but my daughter’s years of research and struggle that ultimately led the family to health and real-food sanity.

    Aimee (who blogs at and husband Jeff had to pry my fingers from the Popeyes chicken and frozen pizza. Bless them both :-)
    .-= Ren´s last blog ..Real Food Face-Off, Week One =-.

    • Katie says

      I am dying laughing while scraping my chin skin off the floor from my jaw-dropping surprise at your Popeye’s chicken admission. You must have had some love of cooking beforehand to be creating such incredible dishes now! What a blessed family!
      :) Katie

  5. says

    Question for Ren:
    What [anecdotal] evidence do your have that your daughter’s turnaround from fibromyalgia is soley related to her diet? Is there any scientific evidence to back that up (i.e. scientific evidence that a real food diet is beneficial to FM sufferers)?

    Question for Jo-Lynne:
    In response to question 10, you say you want animals to be raised in humane environments. are you implying that conventional agriculture does not offer animals humane environments? If yes, what are your qualifications to make that assessment?
    .-= tonya´s last blog ..rcwant2be: Just got my #h1n1 shot. Boss, a dr, was proud. Lol. =-.

  6. says

    This was wonderful! I’m really looking forward to this series. I’ve also forwarded this link to a friend who suffers from fibromyalgia.


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