January 30, 2013

Perfection?

Food inflation © Tetra Images/Corbis “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”~Voltaire

Recently I’ve been reading more about clean foods, our nation’s crazy food supply, agribusiness, and balancing family budgets with the goal of eating healthy foods.  I don’t think that I’m alone in the sense of desperation when it comes to wanting to feed my family healthy, wholesome foods.  Not only must I look at the grocery budget, but I’m also faced with the external pressures of media and marketing that make it seem so much easier to just pick up packaged foods.  (99cts a box taquitos and frozen pizzas at $3.50, anyone?)  At school our daughter eats limited foods because she doesn’t want to be made fun of—even what I consider to be foods that are somewhat mainstream now compared to when I was a child, like sushi and hummus, she won’t eat if I send them for fear of ridicule.  Peer pressure abounds, no matter what age.  Then, there are the demands of daily life to balance.  Almost nine months pregnant now, I’m more fatigued at the end of the day when I would normally be preparing meals for our family.  I have a flexible work schedule, which is the saving grace on most days that allows me time to squeeze in a little meal prep and shopping here and there.  Then there are all of the labels.  We can’t trust the word “natural” on a product to mean something from nature.  GMOs are creeping into most of the foods that aren’t organic.  The basics are no longer basics—sour cream might have 5 or 6 ingredients and fillers in it.  Food fraud is becoming a hot topic with companies using other ingredients to keep their costs down—olive oil might also contain canola oil, pomegranate juice might be mostly grape. 

Just when I found myself ready to rip out my hair and run screaming for the hills, I came across this quote by Voltaire, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”  I consider myself to be a fairly well read person, but I had never come across this quote before now.  It was the splash of cold water in my face that brought me back to reality and calmed my nerves.  Yes, all those problems I mentioned above exist.  Yes, we live in an age where it is more difficult than ever to feed our family wholesome foods.  However, if I strive for good instead of perfection, it takes away a lot of pressure. 

So what does “the good” look like?  I think that it is a work in progress.  It involves incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our diet so that we eat less junk.  It involves choosing local and organic whenever possible to make our foods cleaner.  It involves doubling recipes and freezing extras so that we don’t rely on packaged foods.  For a girl who likes to go “all in”, it involves finding some peace of mind in seeking balance instead of perfection. 

What about you?  One of the main complaints I hear from couponers is that the packaged and less healthy options are such bargains that they find themselves eating differently than they once did.  What do you do to keep healthier choices on the dinner table? 

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