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Why This? Why Now?

The main reason I wanted to start this blog is that two of my children were diagnosed with Celiac disease.  After a lot of panicked research, I commenced to clearing the house of every speck of gluten.  Not an easy task, I can tell you.  (You would not believe all of the things they stick gluten into, and all the monikers it can hide under!)

Now, as someone who is passionate about food, I gotta admit...it stung a bit.  I thought about all the foods that were "off limits."  But I held my tongue.  It was hard enough for the kids as it was without mommy complaining.  (Although Angela may have heard a complaint or two, ahem.  Thanks, Angela!)

After about a minute, I realized that the best thing I could do was to see this as the challenge that it was.  And I like a challenge.  So I armed myself with cookbooks, the internet, and a a lot of tiny, really expensive bags of various gluten-free flours.  (Over $120 at Whole Foods, and I came out with one shopping bag of flour...I kid you not.  The bag wasn't even half full!)

As I battled it out in the kitchen, Angela's years of talking about the environment started to finally filter into my brain.  I questioned the increase in celiac diagnosis, I wondered if the way we ate contributed to it...there may have been some obsessing on my part.  Just a bit.  I read more about food and disease, the I read more about food and health.  Suddenly all the things that Angela had been harping about for ages--I mean sharing with me--made sense. 

My fridge found itself the keeper of new and strange, colorful things...vegetables.  Lots of vegetables.  I wanted to arm the kids with these warriors of nutrition.  I wanted to keep out the artificial junk, the overly processed crap, the hormone laden, genetically altered, chemically poisoned...yuckiness.

So I started modifying recipes...lots and lots of recipes...and then I started worrying about making sure that they were organized and accessible for my kids should (heaven forbid and knock on wood) anything happen to me.  (As you will soon find out, "Guilt" and "Worry" are my next-besties after Angelia!)  Then I started thinking...well, crap, it is kinda selfish to keep all this hard earned knowledge to myself...

That leads us here...me and my very dear friend (Angela...not Guilt or Worry, in case you were wondering) who is so incredibly tolerant and encouraging, about to embark on a new adventure as we document every awesome discovery, every much belabored recipe and, unfortunately, every epic failure. 

So, without further ado, here is Angela's take on this whole endeavor...

For most of my free-thinking life, I have considered myself an environmentalist.  Perhaps not always a very good environmentalist, but one who always held nature in the highest esteem, in her deepest heart of hearts.  I have done good – recycling, trading my incandescent light bulbs out for compact fluorescents, converting to only fair-trade and preferably organic coffee, even changing the kind of cat litter I bought when I discovered the clay stuff is strip-mined; and I have done bad – smoked (and, yes, littered the ground with my cigarette butts) for 11 years, didn't always keep my vehicle in tip-top shape so as to avoid a higher than necessary carbon emission, and have had more take-out food, with all its waste and negative social impact, than I care to admit (even to myself, though if I am to do this right, I’ll have to start).  In a nutshell, I have tried to be virtuous, and, like any common sinner, have fallen into nearly every one of the trappings of this American life at one time or another. 

More recently, while trying to correct my path and make good on my word (for I have raged against that dark corporate entity), I came to the point where I finally had to admit to myself that recycling wasn't enough, that I, as an individual consumer, could do better than merely worrying about where my trash went and what the government was doing to regulate the air I breathed.  Then, in my personal journey to find something deeper and more meaningful that I could do to aid our planet from my own back yard, I stumbled upon a problem so big and so obvious and so simple that it terrified me to think of how long I'd missed it.  It was almost as if it was on purpose, as if I'd been wearing blinders for my entire adult life, refusing to see the worst.  Was it possible that I'd really been in denial?  And the truth, of course, was yes.  Because this big-bad-obvious-thing was something that would hit at the core of my life, my household, the way I cared for my own child.  The truth was in the food.

The food we have come to depend on – the kind you buy at the conventional grocery store, that they serve you through the drive thru window, that they're serving your kids in their school lunches, is, to put it literally, a disaster—not one waiting to happen, but one that is happening…right now.  The implications, from how far the food has to travel to get to us (and the immense amount of energy it takes to transport it), to the quality of the food itself, are so much bigger than anything I ever before let myself fully grasp.  I was overwhelmed.  But I wouldn't shy away; not anymore.  Because I knew something was wrong.  This wasn't just something happening on another continent, some report of dying species in a far away land, something I could only help by donating a few bucks to some big organization.  No.  This was hitting home.  Obesity, heart disease, cancer, and a whole slew of other diseases plague our country, and the impact is hitting us younger and younger.  I don't know what the actual statistics are, but of the people I know, nearly half or more of their children (including my own) are diagnosed with ADHD or Asperger's syndrome or some other autistic spectrum disorder.  I know more asthmatics than I know people who breathe just fine.  And I don't know anyone who doesn't have at least one diabetic in their family. 

Gluten intolerance, something I'd heard about in passing but knew very little about, didn't come to my doorstep until Terri's daughter was diagnosed with Celiac disease.  Luckily, by that time, closely scrutinizing the food my family eats had become habit.  For her part, Terri started researching and reporting back her findings and things began sounding very familiar.  This reminded me of the pitfalls of feedlot meat or diabetes.  Gluten was everywhere, and the cases of gluten intolerance in our country were climbing.  It was a case of our industrial food system cramming binders and fillers (nearly always containing gluten) into every possible nook and cranny of what we ate and what we applied to our bodies (lotions?  lip gloss?).  Because it's cheap, we have more of it than we know what to do with, and we need a place to put it.  It's part of the same madness that makes us feed grain to our cows, which in turn makes them develop a form of e. coli that kills people, and makes us cram so much sugar and (surprise, surprise) corn syrup into processed food that we overwhelm our systems and develop diabetes. 

That's when we decided to put our heads together.  Terri was (and is) developing recipes right and left, fighting with the food system to find a way to feed her family food that wouldn't (literally) kill them and not have to file bankruptcy to do it.  I was (and am) trying desperately to get away from feedlot meat and genetically modified, poisonous, nutritionally devoid produce, to find food that is locally produced and minimally processed, and not have to file bankruptcy to do it.  Eventually, Terri started to sound a lot like me, “Angela, do you know how much stuff has gluten in it?  And the government isn’t regulating this stuff or requiring companies to label their products to warn us!  (It's true!  Who knew that "modified food starch" was some kind of food industry code for "crap that contains gluten"?) They’re just stuffing it into everything!”  And I started to sound a lot like her, “Terri, I just found these organic blackberries at the farmers’ market and made them into blackberry syrup.  It was lovely.”  Our missions had dovetailed.  It was time to consolidate our efforts. 

And so we embark on a new journey, to traverse the treacherous waters of eating consciously in America.  We want you to come along.  It won't always be easy, and it will often be frustrating, but we promise it will also be fun and ultimately rewarding.  We are trying to save our families as we try to save our souls.  And, we hope, to contribute something good to this world of ours, even if it's just a little entertainment and a little deeper understanding of the most vital element of our survival – our food. 

Life with my Aspie  – (March 1, 2011 at 6:29 PM)  

I'm excited to read the future postings of this blog! Love you girls! XOXO

Laura  – (March 4, 2011 at 2:18 AM)  

Looks like you're embarking on a great culinary adventure. I look forward to reading about your discoveries along the way!

Devouring the Seasons  – (March 4, 2011 at 9:12 AM)  

Thanks for joining us! It is awesome to have some company.

Liz  – (April 13, 2011 at 8:34 PM)  

I just read your first post and it's fabulous. Can't wait to read more.

Devouring the Seasons  – (April 13, 2011 at 11:07 PM)  

Thanks Liz! We are so glad you stopped by, and we hope you stick around!

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