Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Is ANYTHING Safe to Eat Anymore? (& Other Things that can Overwhelm)

July 18th, 2012 · 114 Comments · Food for Thought

hiding behind spinach

What do you do when something is stressing you out or overwhelming your brain?

Fight, flight, or…have a pity party with ice cream?

(I suppose that’s just a way of “flight”ing with added sugar, isn’t it? If you must flee, flee with food!)

Some folks probably do something productive like running or cleaning.

Not me.

Some folks might want to take a nap.

Raises hand, lowers eyelids.

Some folks might throw themselves into a solution.

Maybe sometimes.

And others probably cruise the kitchen and eat too much.

Raises hand again…grabs chocolate chip from top shelf.

At least there’s always something healthy to eat if you’re falling into some stressed-out eating patterns…green vegetables are always safe, right?

Nope.

Not according to some of the info I’ve been reading lately.

I got to the point where I honestly don’t know what to eat anymore.

My coping mechanism, along with those (ahem) chocolate chips, was to start a new document titled aptly, “things that are ticking me off right now.”

I started copying links to articles that were simply overwhelming my poor brain so that I could close the tabs and stop quickening my heart rate every time I passed them on Firefox (sped up my browsing, too, since I only had 60 tabs open instead of 75, you know…).

As a blogger, I added to my stress level thinking that I should probably publicly comment on all these things and share them with you all. Then I’d feel guilty because I don’t want to make all my dear readers overwhelmed with “too much information” about nutrition and natural living, since it’s seems that it’s always a moving target and mighty confusing.

So.

Here’s what I’ll do.

I’m going to get this all off my chest in one choppy, multi-topic post. I’ll say a few words about this stuff, but I don’t really want to dig into it all further. It’s ticking me off, remember?!

If you don’t want to hear about more foods you can’t eat or when you’re supposed to be outside (hint: it’s either not between 10-3:00 or only right at noon, take your blasted blankety-blank pick!), then you may want to stop reading now. Go read about happy free preschool activities or enter this week’s giveaway or something with positive thoughts.

If you’re curious what I’ve been stumbling across or might want to learn something new (that will be new again next month, probably), forge ahead!

slip and slide paul

Problem: Will the Sun Kill You or Make you Healthy?

Details: I was always the mom who put sunscreen on her toddler every day with his clothes, because that’s what I was “supposed” to do so he didn’t get a sunburn, according to popular culture and modern medicine.

When I learned more about the hazards of chemical sunscreen, I switched to natural sunscreen and continued the habit of staying out of the sun when possible, especially between 10-3:00, and always used sunblock during those times.

Recently I’ve read that you shouldn’t shower with soap after sun exposure so the D can do its magic, but of course if you’re swimming in a chlorinated pool you might want to get that off right away…

Mommypotamus has written extensive and well-sourced stuff on sun and sunscreen this summer: here and here and here and how to make your own sunscreen, too.

I understand that Vitamin D is important, so I was always happy to get the kids out swimming after 4 p.m. with no sunblock on.

Now I read everywhere that you don’t get Vitamin D at that time, just the dangerous rays of the sun. The latest recommendation is to get full sun for 15 minutes exactly at noon. (Mercola, I think.)

What???

Again, the opposite of what I thought was right.

And a little difficult to do with kids, so strictly scheduled.

Will anyone survive this world?

No, we’ll all die someday. Thank goodness we have that to look forward to! Heaven will be great, no sunburns…

How I’m dealing: No way am I going to let my kids get burned, and I’m not sending them out for 15 minutes at noon every day, either, then making them come in. I’m not that scheduled and that seems mean. “Go play…now come in!!”

We try to get a little sun before using sunscreen, but not if we’re going to be out a long time. Burns are too risky.

I’ll be updating the natural sunscreen review later today, hopefully, but the brand we’ve been defaulting to this summer is Kabana. They have a new sunblock with only 6 ingredients, one of which is Vitamin D.

Here’s what I will be adding to the review post:

Kabana’s new Vitamin D sunblock feels so safe to me, and it’s one of the only ones I’ll put on John (less than a year old). However, you should know that it doesn’t “rub in” at all, and it’s not meant to. My kids look a little ghostly, but it’s “safety first” for me with them, not beauty, and my husband won’t use it at all.

For us, we’ve been using Kabana’s tinted blend. They really do work as far as not looking white, but hubs was very worried he’d look like he was wearing makeup. He was relieved that he didn’t. Winking smile

You should know about this one, though, that it stains clothing really, really badly. That’s why, even though it looks great on the kids, even John’s white baby skin, we won’t use it on them anymore. They’re too wiggly and we’ve wrecked a few shirts already and aren’t willing to risk more.

Problem: You Have to Have Perfect Olive Oil

Details: Cheeseslave posted on how “pure” olive oil should solidify in the refrigerator in 12 hours. If it didn’t, it had other vegetable oils mixed in secretly, the dastardly food corporations, you know. Tons of people freaked out about the brands she “outed” as not being pure because they remained liquid.

Then Primal Toad posted a rebuttal that made me both happy (Oh, good, another thing we don’t have to get so nit-picky about) and frustrated (Again, something that went viral and freaked people out unnecessarily!). His post did not go viral, as the boring truth rarely does. (Mine on the new Kerrygold butter didn’t either, although the original “beware” post certainly did.)

My olive oil, which I buy by the gallon from Soaper’s Choice (no advertising there, it’s just genuinely where I get it), does solidify in the fridge, which I learned when I refrigerated homemade salad dressings. My MIL’s also does, and I’m sure she buys the cheap stuff. So there.

How I’m dealing: Forget about it and move on. Just buy 100% extra virgin olive oil and enjoy it.

Minneapolis sustainable restaurant - salmon (3)

Problem: Healthy Salmon is from Alaska…but it’s Loaded with Radiation

Details: When I posted on finding safe fish, particularly salmon, I got an email from a reader stating simply: “The salmon in Alaska have extreme levels of radiation from the japan indecent.”

Sometimes, I hate our world. If that’s true – and it probably is! – then there is absolutely zero salmon you would want to eat, unless it was canned before Japan had its mess. Phooey.

Her sources (I asked): Here, here, here, and here

How I’m dealing: I did take a minute to look into this one. I found some articles from Vital Choice on the purity of their salmon and how the radiation tests are coming back A-OK. As a discerning reader, you have to take these with a grain of salt, though, because as my mom says, they’re “information mixed with commerce” since the information comes from a company selling salmon!

Vital Choice sources: Here, here, here, and here

I’m still eating salmon, from Alaska. But I might keep watching this story…the Japan radiation issue has been on my list to research for quite some time, and I just haven’t had the heart to do it.

Problem: That Expensive Bacon You’ve Been Buying? Nitrates There, Too

AND

Maybe Nitrates Aren’t so Bad for You After All

This nitrate/nitrite thing? *eye roll*

Details: I wrote about some interesting coverage on how nitrate-free lunchmeat and bacon probably has more nitrates than ever HERE. My post was more to say, “Huh, this is odd, what do you think?” than to really teach or say that I bought into it.

Now I’m seeing stuff  back to 2007, saying nitrates “may not be so bad after all.” (Here‘s a real scientific journal article exploring the situation.)

How I’m dealing: I really do want to understand this. I don’t think it gives us the green card to eat conventional lunchmeat, but unfortunately, it may mean that the triple-the-price nitrate-free stuff isn’t much better. That’s such a bummer!!! So in the meantime, I’m buying the good stuff but super seldomly. And I’m getting stressed out. Smile with tongue out

Sooo…don’t eat the good proteins you used to eat, worry about your formerly healthy fats, and check this out:

Problem: Even Whole Foods Doesn’t Know Where Their Food Comes From

Details: A reader sent this on to me, a PDF showing that in some instances, they have no idea if what they are claiming to be organic actually is. Phooey badooey on that!

Problem: GMOs are Getting More Prevalent, and Some People Think That’s Dandy

Details: I haven’t posted anything on GMOs, genetically modified organisms, here at Kitchen Stewardship. It’s something I know I need to look into, and I do kind of/sort of try to avoid them when I can…but I can’t stomach the truth.

I know they’re going wild, and that GMO crops are infiltrating and cross-pollenating with regular crops so pretty soon, we won’t have a choice. I can’t imagine God wanted us to redo His job. They have to be bad…based on my hunch.

There’s a bill up in government that GMOs at least need to be labeled. At least the consumer can make their own darn decision, which is great.

Except that this professor seems to think that since he thinks GMOs are dandy, no one else should get to know what’s in their food.

How I’m dealing: I don’t have a Whole Foods nearby, and I’m throwing the “you’re an idiot” book at that professor. Feel free to throw it at me because I’m silly enough to mistrust GMOs on a hunch and also foolish enough not to avoid them like the plague like we probably should be doing. *raises white flag*

Sandra's Bread (1) (500x375)

Problem: Soaking Grains is Just Confusing

Details: Ever since I kind of let my own soaking grains series die a quiet death, I’ve wondered what the real answer is.

Want to know why I never posted “To Soak or Not to Soak?”

Because I don’t know the answer.

The deeper I got into the research, the more I realized I’m absolutely not qualified to determine what to do. I didn’t know how to get the bottom of the issue, so I stopped digging.

The fact that our family found going grain-free to be helpful and then gluten-free and low-gluten almost all the time also meant that (a) the subject was a moot point most of the time (grain-free) and (b) many of my old grains recipes don’t even get pulled out (gluten-free).

When I really started getting upset with the subject is when Amanda Rose published her newest thoughts, based on research, that we don’t need to add an acidic medium to soak, just use warm water – but also DON’T use dairy at all! (I can’t find the source right now though.) This threw half my soaking recipes for a loop, and you know what? I checked out of the conversation.

When I started reading questions about coconut flour and phytic acid, I was really done. If I can’t even avoid the stuff when I’m grain-free, forget it!

How can it be a traditional practice and still, the advice does a complete 180-degree turn in the few years I’ve been trying it?

One more article on phytic acid

How I’m dealing: When I make grains, I nearly always soak them, but I don’t know if it does anything good. I don’t like refined grains, and I’d rather our family avoid grains, period, when we’re out of the house, especially glutenous grains. I have to simply be okay with not knowing the answer, and two other bloggers whom I respect dearly have posted on the subject.

I had their posts open for about a month before they made it into my “ticked off” document. They’re worth a read:

grain free homemade granola smaller (5)

Problem: You Can’t Eat Nuts, Either

Details: Our food choices are getting narrower and narrower when we cut grains, avoid processed foods, ETC.

We eat a LOT of nuts, both as snacks and as flour in recipes.

I was just tickled (not!) when I read these “why you shouldn’t eat nuts” articles:

I probably should also mention that I bought 10 bags of Diamond brand walnuts on a super good sale, then noticed they included BHT on the nuts. So even when you think you’re buying a single-ingredient food, you’re stuck with a weird preservative.  They had a very un-courteous reply to my query/dismay via their customer service. I will never buy that brand again.

How I’m dealing: I can’t, really. I still eat plenty of nuts. I’ll soak and dehydrate them into crispy nuts, because maybe it helps digestion, and there’s no question that in our family, we like the taste/feel much better. So that’s worth it.

Do I wonder about the whole idea of “it should take your time to crack open the nut, therefore you shouldn’t eat them by the handful” thing every time I feed my kids almonds? Almost. But I’m trying not to die of stress here. Winking smile

Is There Anything Left to Eat?

Whenever I would get stressed about so many foods hitting the “they’re not healthy” chopping block, I would often say things like, “At least everyone says green vegetables are good for you, phew!”

Well.

Not anymore.

This is probably the article that really got me started on my “ticking me off” document, since it’s pretty sensational and says “Don’t eat your green veggies, or else!”

Sarah bashed green smoothies, including my method of cooking the kale first to reduce oxalic acid. If you go there, read the comments from Susan Owens and Heidi to help you sort things out.

Green Smoothie Girl, her livelihood at question, wrote a great rebuttal and had already addressed oxalates in greens, with about 100x more sources than Sarah.

It still frustrates me, though – did I mention we’re participating in our first CSA this year and have tons of leafy greens every single week? If any of us get kidney stones, I swear…!

How I’m dealing: I throw up my hands and go to McDonald’s!

Just kidding.

I do throw up my hands, but it’s usually for chocolate chips, not McD’s. Winking smile

I hate feeling afraid of food. This summer, I’m focusing on eating the best meat I can, lots of veggies (eat dirt, oxalates!), and making whole foods a priority. I want Jonathan to have a good start in his eating life, but I’m trying not to freak out about things.

We eat food.

If it’s grown in the ground or eats things grown in the ground, that’s 80% of the battle.

I make almost everything from scratch and like it that way.

Speaking of being afraid of food, which I feel like sometimes, Green Smoothie Girl also has a good series on antinutrients: are you letting them scare you away from whole foods? This girl does her research and cites things, which I really, really appreciate.

Stacy also wrote a very insightful post that made me feel better and guilty at the same time, tackling the issue of people going to extremes too much with food. The title is perfect: Food is Not Your God.

What’s Next?

Now that my “ticking me off right now” document is a blank slate again, I’m taking a vacation from all those windows and tabs, all those helpful reader emails, all the questions and wonderings.

I’m going to play with my kids more.

I’m printing off some new recipes to try, things I think I’ll really enjoy and some grain-free or gluten-free stuff that I’ve been wanting to master. And we’ll eat plenty of greens if our CSA box has anything to say about it, so there! Smile  I’m trying to eat more fermented foods.

I’m leaving the computer OFF but for one sitting per week. It’s going to be wonderful (starting Monday). You’ll see mostly guest posts, recipe and Monday Mission reruns, a happy birthday ebook bundle sale…and I’ll see you again mid-August, refreshed and renewed and ready to talk about Safety in September and Organizing in October!

Feel free to comment away, and hopefully it will be interesting…but just realize that if I don’t like what you have to say, I might just copy you into my document instead of answering…  Winking smile

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114 Comments so far ↓

  • Jessica

    This is a very interesting post! In the last eight months we have gone from eating white flour everything, drinking tons of soda, and buying a lot of boxed convenience foods, to grinding our own wheat, drinking green smoothies, and making *most* of our food from scratch. I love to read about nutrition, but it can be so frustrating! When I read that article saying you shouldn’t drink green smoothies, I was almost ready to throw in the towel. But then I had this thought like, wait a second we have cut out soda in our diet, and now drink a smoothie every day, seriously what is going to do more damage to our bodies?! I totally agree with your conclusion. I feel like I’m doing the best I can, and I know we are eating a million times better than we were a year ago. So I think I’m just going to keep doing the best I can, and try to not let all of these different opinions on nutrition cause me to lose my mind. :) Enjoy your vacation!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Way to go, Jessica! What an awesome turnaround!!!
    :) Katie

  • Deb

    Girl, I am totally with you on this one. I’m so FRUSTRATED with the eat this, don’t eat this, wait, that will kill you, OH MY GOSH, do not eat greens.

    I honestly hate doing research. I just want to cook and enjoy eating good food! So a few months ago I decided that I quit for a while. I quit trying to figure it out. I’m going to eat real food and listen to my body on what I should eat. You know what? I feel my best when I eat a ton of raw leafy greens every day! So I’m doing that. We soaked grains for a while and didn’t notice a difference, so we’re just eating unsoaked grains.

    Sure, we should look for clean, quality sources for our food. But I’m sick of the conflicting opinions over food, and I think it’s kind of silly to target a few specific “anti-nutrients” and exclude foods that are natural and unrefined. So. We’re eating real food. And salmon patties every week because we like them:)

    Trinka Reply:

    Places soapbox on ground and stands on it, exclaiming rather loudly- I absolutely agree! This whole Good food/ bad food garbage is implanted to do just that- confuse you to the point of giving up and giving in. When we are all confused enough, the companies doing this will move in, take over and they have the army of “zombies” they wanted. Subdued, quiet, and happily munching on whatever they put out for us. Watching massive amounts of T.V., not exercising or enjoying life. just worrying about the next “horrible thing” that might happen to us that “they” can fix with a new improved piece of junk. We are being De-sensitized by being highly sensitized to every possible who, what , where and when. Sorry about the zombie reference, even that’s overblown now, but it fits exactly into what is happening to the world. enjoy what you like with as little “junk” in it as possible and live life happily- takes soapbox and goes to the next block……….

  • Kelly in Oregon

    Awesome post! Thanks so much. :) The back and forth isn’t just in the real food world, it’s in the “regular” food world too. (low-fat!… no, low-carb!… no, healthy-fats!… etc…)

    I just do the best I can with what seems to be the best (or in some cases, easiest or best tasting). It’s kind like the 80/20 rule… even if I screw some stuff up, doing somet things right is better than nothing!

  • Andrea

    Love this post! I’m SO tired of sifting through conflicting information! Your “I’m going to play with my kids more” conclusion is perfect – let’s just stick to what we know for sure!:)

  • Morgan

    I know exactly how you feel, but I’m a firm believer that the STRESS does more damage than the food {good, bad, or otherwise} so I just listen to my body, try and have a lot of diversity in my diet {I like to eat lots of traditional meals from lots of different cultures….love to switch it up!} and eat everything in moderation! I think we’re ALL SO DIFFERENT and that’s why the information changes constantly. One man’s bread and butter, so to speak, can very easily be another’s poison. Eating, especially for health, should be fun, exciting, experimental, educational, and a lifelong journey. If we teach our kids {either directly or through example} that eating is a source of stress or worry then they’ll be much less likely to invest the time and energy into healthy eating. I think we need to focus on what makes us operate at our best…and that can and does change. Being adaptable is such an important part of overall wellness and I’m glad to see that you know when to walk away! : )

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yeah, I worry about my stress level too…ummmm…and then I worry about worrying! ;) Not too often, luckily.

    Good reminder to keep it positive in front of the kids, no matter what!! :) Katie

  • Genevieve

    Couldn’t be more with you on this!! I’ve been going through and un-following most traditional food blogs because I can’t stand feeling like every food I eat is poisoning me and my family. For every 1 good thing someone posts it seems like there are 10 posts telling me that I’m doing something wrong. (Latest is that I’m not fermenting my sauerkraut long enough so I’m damaging my thyroid, insert giant frustrated eyeroll) I’ve just had enough, being stressed about eating negates anything positive I would be getting from my food. This is no way to live!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    What? Short ferm sauerkraut damages the thyroid??? Where did you read that???

    (Be sure to read the above in a falsetto, darn it all I’m kidding, voice.) ;)

    Bet mine is too short, too. Poor thyroid.

    To our health! :) Katie

  • Christina

    I really enjoy reading your posts. It’s exactly what I’m dealing with. I’m trying to keep with my husband’s theory of everything in moderation. Sometimes I think that the stress of dealing with what to eat will kill me faster than eating the wrong thing. I have a local, organic CSA and I do my best to make/eat, natural and real foods. Other than that, I’m going to enjoy my life as well and stop stressing over the little stuff.

  • Heather | Mom 4 Life

    Well that about says it. I totally agree with you, it can be so overwhelming and frustrating! I am glad you got that all out there, feels good to vent right? It is helpful just to read someone else struggling with the unknowns right along with me. ((hugs))

  • Soli

    The way I look at it is this: none of our ancestors likely ever ate a 100% “perfect” diet. So long as we get a lot of the GOOD stuff in our bodies, we’re doing very well indeed. I also follow something I heard from Rami Nagel a few years ago in a podcast: eat liver and you take care of a lot of those problems.

    (and I better get to making pate again sometime soon!)

  • Bethany

    I can so relate to this post!

    One of the ideas I hang onto when I get frustrated is from Michael Pollan (others say it too, but he’s such a great writer it sticks with me)–that people around the world have lived on diets composed of a wide variety of whole foods.

    I try not to get too hung up on these details. When in doubt, I think, “What would Caroline Ingalls do?”

    Esther Reply:

    Great idea! I’ve thought in similar ways about someone of that era, but now I have a name to associate with the thought.

    Jessica Reply:

    Yep…..she is my go to. I always say “what would ma and pa eat?” I love it that I am not the only one!

    Bethany Reply:

    Yes, this morning, after having read all the stuff about oxalates last night, I was prepping some lamb’s quarters for breakfast and feeling torn about how to prepare it. What would Caroline Ingalls do? She’d prep it the way it would taste best. So that’s what I did too–and quit worrying about the oxalate.

  • Gayle via Facebook

    You totally hit the nail on the head. Awesome job

  • Misty via Facebook

    seriously, I feel the same way. Dont do this, do this, dont eat this, eat this. Its overwhelming. Organic Raw veggies is that all we can ever eat?!?!

  • Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker

    Great post…I feel ticked off, too, a lot. In fact, I’m like Stacy…there are some blogs I just don’t read anymore. One in particular (ahem…green smoothie is the clue there) seems to always have a conspiracy theory. I honestly think it pushes some families in the wrong direction.

    I’d like to be all or nothing…but I can’t be. I’d go crazy. There’s time, there’s money…and I just do the best I can and give it to God.

    Bottom line? We live in a fallen, sin-stained world. It STINKS, but our food will never be perfect until Jesus comes back. We have to deal with the consequences of sin–even when it affects our food.

    I appreciate bloggers who are open and honest with their struggles in this area. I appreciate you coming out in the open and telling us how you deal with these issues!! :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Erin,
    Absolutely! I forgot I had penned some good stuff like you mentioned about the sin-stained world and perfect food in the shower…guess it didn’t make the final cut, silly mommy brain! ;) Katie

  • RoseAnne

    I know the frustration. Every time I start researching a nutrition/health topic for a post I find myself buried in opinions and research results that contradict. Sigh! I avoid GMO’s (when they are identifiable), shun grains (so soaking isn’t an issue), soak raw nuts (but are they really raw and should they be soaked) before drying them, and get out in the sun for about half an hour in the middle of the day as often as possible. Oh – and I try to eat mainly fresh, organic vegetables and grass-fed or wild meats/fish. I figure that’s the safest way…

  • Aprille

    Wow, and I thought I was the only one thinking that way. It is scary and driving me crazy as well. Even though I may not always buy the things I should, I’d sure like to know that when I choose thinks that are supposed to be healthy, they really are.

  • Heather

    I, too, have pulled away from most of the real food blogs because I don’t have the emotional space to be told that everything I am doing to improve my family’s health is for nothing because I don’t do it perfectly. The irony was the more I read and became overwhelmed the more I threw my hands in the air and turned to the food that made me sick. Once I stepped away from all but a handful I found doing better much less overwhelming. I also found that I didn’t stress over making changes slowly which went a long way in convincing my husband to come with me on this journey.

  • Tiffany via Facebook

    I have not read this yet, going to right now. But totally have felt overwhelmed the last couple months as I’ve been switching to real food, cleaner living. Feels like nothing is right, I can see why people give up before they get started!

  • Kristi

    Thank you so much for this post!!! I get so frustrated while reading and researching about what to eat and how to eat it. I’ve thrown my hands in the air, too, and we do pretty much the same as you. Most of the time. LOL
    We eat lots of meats, veggies, and fruits. I limit nuts just because they cause tummy issues (maybe because I’ve never taken the time to soak and dry them).
    I do pay more for the nitrate free bacon just because I’ve noticed that I get headaches after eating regular bacon.
    We try to have local raw milk and cheeses but if not, I’ll just get the hormone free stuff from the store.
    The sun? If we’re gonna be out for a while, I’ll put sunscreen on the kids. If not, I don’t worry about it. No matter the time. We do shower good after the pool because of the chlorine.
    I figure we do the best we can and that stressing over every little bite will cause more problems than biting into a Big Mac. haha!
    Have a great time off blogging and enjoying those babies!

  • Wanda via Facebook

    You are not alone! It seems there are a lot of us experiencing similar frustrations!

  • Cassie @ The Thrifty Couple

    What a great post! I honestly deal with the same thing day in and day out! It is frustrating. Ultimately, I have to just make the best decisions I can and hope for the best.

    You see, we are “recovering couponers” meaning that we thought for years the only way to have a super slim budget was to use lots of coupons. After realizing what we were buying, feeding ourselves, and doing to our health, we determined to stick to our budget of $75 a week for a family of 7 and eat more whole living and healthful!

    I love the way we shop now and that is that we shop the perimeter of the store. Rarely do we escape down an aisle. That is the first key. Most all of our budget goes to fresh fruits and veggies and organic or brown-cage free egss (which I am sure you will find many pro/con there too!) and try to make the fresh items organic as much as possible. We are part of a produce coop which allows us to get a basket full of organic produce for $25 – assuming that it really is organic :/ In addition, we buy our beef from a local farmer that grass-feeds free range exclusively. we have our milk delivered fresh from a local dairy that is supposed to be “organic” and that is pretty much it – other than the brown rices and bulk beans that make up the fillers. We do use coupons on occasion, but only when it actually works. We drink Kefir, getting ready to dive in to Kombucha and have 1/2 fruits 1/2 veggies smoothies nearly everyday. I can’t think beyond this type of eating and am thinking I am doing well with our budget. It really is crazy to think that we still might be getting so many things wrong. Thanks for sharing your research and insights! I wish it was black or white……. :)

    Renee Reply:

    Cassie,
    Wow! I am impressed with your $75 a week budget for a family of 7. I too have a family of 7, but have a budget of $225-250 a week. I have been thinking that is too much and wanted to get it down. You have given me a goal and some practical advice. I am going to work on cutting things out gradually and hopefully by October or November I can be where you are. Wish me luck :)

  • Noël via Facebook

    Great post. SO TRUE! Sometimes I get so stressed feeding my family! I love the comment that mentions our fallen world… our food and our bodies will never be perfect until the day we see our Savior. :)

  • Sarah @ Will Run for Pasta

    Couldn’t agree more and added to the list for me is Forks Over Knives, just saw a major rebuttal post about that movie. There seems to be evidence to back up both sides of every issue and I’m pretty much done with it. Seems you have to be a chemist and a biologist and have 40 hours a week to spare for researching it yourself to understand any of it. I’m still open to learning but I’m just defaulting to as much whole/real food as possible and taking the everything in moderation approach.

    And this is just about what we put IN our body, there’s also the important issue of what w’re putting ON our bodies as well.

    It never ends…

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sarah,
    I’m with you on that one, too – don’t eat meat, don’t eat greens, or grains, or nuts…ummm…maybe we can still get away with eating, um, cucumbers? Or cinnamon?
    ;) Katie

    Jessica Reply:

    Ummm…watch that cinnamon. Is it cassia or ceylon? Gotta watch those coumarins. :)

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Noooooooo! Too much cinnamon is bad for you? That’s not even a funny joke. I don’t like ceylon, so I hope that’s the bad one…
    :p Katie

    Debra ;o) Reply:

    Forks Over Knives…don’t get me started! I went plant based after watching that and reading several plant based authors. I started the diet to improve my long time health issues, only to end up with Ulcerative Colitis within a few months. Now I’m on SCD and doing much better.
    I’m with Katie, I’m so over the conflicting OPINIONS about this food or that food. I’ve decided I’m not going to chase my tail anymore. I don’t trust science because the ones funding the researchers are those wanting a specific outcome. I’ve determined I’m going to do the best I can, with the resources I have and get back to enjoying life. Quality of life is my focus, not longevity. I won’t be going to heaven any earlier than my Heavenly Father has deemed anyway. It amazes me how many here are dealing with the same frustrating things I’ve found myself dealing with for the last few months. I am, obviously, in good company.

  • Dawn via Facebook

    You said everything I’ve been dying to say!

  • Anna via Facebook

    I have been so frustrated and overwhelmed! Not to mention I am dealing with first trimester exhaustion and morning sickness that I feel like any convience food is “killing” us but at the same time we have to eat! So glad that I am not the only one feeling overwhelmed! I try to eat everything in moderation, follow what my body tells me and focus on whole foods.

  • Crystal via Facebook

    Agreed. Hugs and chips!

  • Beth

    Lately when I am stressing about things I find myself thinking of Matthew 6:25 (Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?). I can’t spend my whole life feeding my family – they have a lot of other needs too! And God has other purposes for my time.

    So, I try to be wise and practice good stewardship, but I also try to be sensitive to what God provides for us. So if we can’t afford perfect food, I think I need to do what I can to get the best things I can, but beyond that to not worry about it and ask God to bless my efforts and our bodies.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yes! I should have linked to this old post in today’s rant: http://www.kitchenstewardship.com/2009/04/09/soul-first-body-second/

    :) Katie

  • Danielle via Facebook

    thanks for this…I totally understand the frustration. I guess that’s why I don’t jump onboard any one “way” 100%, just try to use common sense. on another note, I’m glad i’m not the only one with a ridiculous amount of firefox tabs open :)

  • Tiffany via Facebook

    Love it, so true! I just got done listening to many of the presentations on the Real Food Summit, talk about great & overwhelming! One talk (canadian gentleman who has a tough name to spell :) mentioned this exact thing. I enjoyed his talk. He suggested choosing a couple of reliable sources to follow, & that us it. I think sometimes the stress of it all is almost as bad as the processed food itself :)

  • Dawn

    Thanks, Katie. Great post. I like the comment above about “What would Caroline Ingalls do?”, and like Erin, I appreciate your willingness to shared what you learn, and also what you struggle with. This stuff is hard to sort out. I feel like one person says something, or misquotes something, and it gets repeated all over the internet, and it becomes so hard to figure out what is true. I am finding that right now I gravitate toward things that are less complex, and it seems like people attempting to survive in a hazardous world wouldn’t add lots of complexities, so I’m good with this.

  • Stephanie via Facebook

    Right there with ya! I just do my best and know that God will make up the difference.

  • Lisa

    Thanks so much for this reality check. I know it takes courage to write honestly about this topic this in our community! A lot of this stuff was driving me insane too, I appreciate the reminder to just relax and enjoy!

  • Heather

    Thank you for your honesty! Sometimes, as a newbie on this road, I feel like I’m failing at all of this healthy eating. Now, I’m not rejoicing at your frustration, just a little encouraged that I’m not the ONLY one who doesn’t have it all figured out. I totally agree with Erin said just above me…sin affects even our food. How crappy is that. At least we have a better hope to look forward to.

    And I died laughing about your tabs comment – my husband’s biggest pet peeve is how I will open 20 tabs and leave them all open for a MONTH. Bahahahaha.

  • Casandra

    I have one to add to my list of I-want-to-eat-to-live-not-die-from-it’s-ingredients: gum! Every pack I looked at has aspartame and a few has BHT! This is some good info!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Casandra,
    Readers chatted about this on one of my sweeteners posts, and I think Glee was highly recommended as “free from horrible things.” ;) Katie

    Casandra Reply:

    I will have to check out glee! Thank you :)

    Cheryl Reply:

    I was buying Spry — it is xylitol-sweetened. What caused me to stop purchasing it was the titanium dioxide. I don’t need chemicals to make my gum white! Now I am buying Peelu. We’ll see if I find something objectionable about that! I’ll have to look into Glee, too.

    Casandra Reply:

    Spry was going to be my go-to gum when I decide to shell out the money, that stinks! Glee it is. I found a few other brands on Amazon, but have not dissected the ingredients yet ;)

  • Cheryl

    Great post, Katie. I’m over here in CA thinking, “Preach it, Sister!” lol Glad you could get this off your chest and that you are taking a break from it all.

    *I felt the need for a long reply but deleted it upon completion. The world can thank me now. lol*

    I will only add that from my own research, the radiation levels here in CA along the Southern coast are already hot. I think I’ll stock up on cans of tuna (yeah, we still do that) now before the tuna being caught today ends up on our shelves. I will be avoiding fish for the most part. :( Hard enough to fish locally because of all the mining pollution here in CA.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Oy…I wonder how we can tell *when* that tuna starts hitting the shelves…??? Like, is it even safe to stock up now?
    :/ Katie

    Cheryl Reply:

    Maybe shop at a “used” food store like Grocery Outlet — do you have those in your part of the country? — as the food is a bit older to begin with? Otherwise I don’t know the answer to that. Maybe just forego tuna. Pity — I love mine with olive oil, diced tomatoes, diced onion and sea salt. Yum!

  • Amy

    I feel like this is all a journey- and I enjoy your blog because you do a lot of research, have lots of information, good and confusing, and it’s not a nice neat package for anyone to figure out. (I’m referring to nutrition) Kinda like politics!

    Anyways. I find as I’m figuring out my journey, most of the nutrition blogs I follow are figuring it out too… Some are further than others… Some are more layed back… Makes it tricky to follow recipes exactly but I love having you as a source. Your journey has become part of my journey and I appreciate the good and the confusing because it’s enlightening. God didn’t try to make this complicated… He provided food for us to eat- and I don’t think that means we have to eat a rainbow everyday at just the right strategic time and combination of colors. Nor do we have to run outside at noon…

  • Rebecca

    I love this post! So real!!
    Information abounds, but is often conflicting. I think the stress of trying to figure it out causes problems too. I tend to obssess and I have had to learn to let it go. I do the best I can, cook from scratch etc etc. There are plenty of people that live long, relatively healthy lives on SAD, so I must be at least one step ahead trying to go all natural!

  • Somethings via Facebook

    It really can get overwhelming, causing one to just run to McD’s (haha, I liked your joke there) but really-can’t we just eat real food and not concern ourselves with the rest? I pray you realy enjoy your computer free time!

  • Heather

    My kids are roughly the same age as yours–mine are 5, 3 1/2, and our youngests were born the same week–and we live in sunny, sunny San Jose. The kids are all fair-skinned–one with light brown hair, one blonde, and the baby is a redhead. Hubs and I are both fair-skinned. I’ve never been a sunscreen user, just because I’ve never been able to stand the way the conventional stuff makes my skin feel hot. I don’t put sunscreen on my kids, unless it’s for something like a day at the water park. We have a big fenced yard and they are in and out all day long–tons of sun exposure! Their bodies adjust to the increasing sunlight as we move from winter to summer and they never get more burn than the slightly pink nose that the experts are saying is the signal that you’ve been out long enough for vitamin D. I’ve noticed that, if it’s really hot, they are generally indoors during the hottest part of the day, of their own accord (no air conditioning, so it’s not that). Nobody ever sunscreened us as kids in WI, and we lived in the country, back in the days when kids were expected to play outdoors all day. We’d burn about once in the spring, and that would be it for the year. And I’m a fair-skinned blonde. The whole sunburn/skin cancer thing is overhyped. If you have adequate vitamin D levels, they are protective against skin cancer.

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I just wanted to say, I love you Katie girl. :-)

    Stress – it’s a killer.

  • Jennifer V

    Excellent post! I am glad someone else gets stressed out about all the conflicting food advice out there. When all else fails, I simply ask myself if I am eating food as close to the way God made it as possible. If the answer is no (i.e. GMO’s) then I probably shouldn’t be sticking it in my mouth.

  • Lori

    This is exactly how have felt lately! Thank you for this post. I have been trying to go grain free for a couple months now and it is so frustrating the more I research the more it seems I’m doing things wrong (like is almond flour any good if its not soaked? and I now I can’t use coconut flour!!!! how do I cook grain free then). I really like your idea to just go on the computer once a week and just play with the kids more. I think I’m going to join you :) I too am simply focusing on veggies and finding a quality meat source since we used up all our beef and the farm I got it at doesn’t have enough for us this fall.

  • Dana

    Phew! You said it, sister! I cannot thank you enough for including the link to Stacy’s post about where our salvation truly lies (NOT on a plate!). Her message was just what I needed to get my attitude back on track.

    Thanks so much for slogging through all of this on the front lines and then sharing what you’ve found with the rest of us.

  • Nicole via Facebook

    Great post! I have been thinking along these lines for a few months now–great to see it here.

  • Shauna Perez

    Wow! This is exactly how I feel. I remember back in May when I wanted to take the whole family gluten-free after reading Wheat Belly, I felt absolutely paralyzed. I wasn’t sure how to proceed, and if I should, and if I could afford it. I thought I just might lose my mind.

    I have managed two or three months now, with a rather boring selection (soup, anyone), even having to eat before going to a picnic play date because what I had in the house to eat just did not travel well.

    We are on vacation with my parents. The only one eating GF here is me, and I have one, maybe two kids that are gluten sensitive that I should not let eat it, but didn’t want to face a battle with my Standard-American-Diet parents. They even questioned why I have to do it, then a casserole with condensed soup in it set me off, and they backed off.

    So, there is my fear of food story. Enjoy your vacation! We love to hear from you and will look back go your return.

  • Samuel via Facebook

    I have been feeling exactly the same way- like there is basically NOTHING safe to eat anymore, so why even bother? It gets overwhelming at times :o(

  • Katie via Facebook

    I went through a period of feeling very overwhelmed and stressed about this stuff, and now I just don’t care. I make an effort to feed my family healthy whole foods and just hope that’s good enough.

  • Brittany

    THANK YOU!! I feel the same way sometimes. I place prayer right in the center of this journey and it comes to this: God can move mountains and His will is paramount. I have made a commitment to God and my family to do my best with what he has given me and I know he will bless my efforts. If I am going out of my way to do everything suggested on the internet am I being a good steward of what he has given me? No, I am a sheep following the human shepard. So I research and implement things slowly in the order I feel led.

    God bless you, and while I am not glad you are wanting to pull your hair out, it’s nice to know I am not the only one!

  • via Facebook

    When I get to this point, I make the best decision I can. Then, make sure you pray over that food and then eat! Put the trust in the right place . . .

  • Kim

    Thanks for this post. I have come to similar conclusions on much of what you said. I’m starting to wonder if all these blogging “experts” even have a clue. Living by all of their advice will drive you crazy! People live well into their 90′s eating stuff from the grocery store without thinking about it. Yet, stressing over everything we eat will likely kill us more than the food! I’m stressing less and listening less to the “experts” who keep changing their theories anyway. There comes a point when we just have to stop stressing about food and start enjoying it again!

  • Cheryl

    Yep, I’m going to agree with everyone else. Thanks for writing this and making me feel like I’m not alone in this confusing world of deciding what is best. :)

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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