Monday, October 25, 2010

You Are What You Eat

Alright, brace yourself. Here comes the post where we say something that makes you think we are total tree huggers and you spend the rest of the day trying to reconcile your previous and current opinion of us. In fact. you wrestle with it at your desk all day at work. You pull on your hair during class until you're upset and disheveled looking. You head straight to the bar after your nine to five to look for clarity. You stew on it. Until you just can't take it anymore and you end up calling us tonight during one of our Bones marathons and screaming into the telephone, "Who do you think you are!?!?! I don't understand!"

Or maybe you just finish reading this post and say to yourself, "Alright dude. Thats cool."

Jake and I have spent a good part of the last two years studying and researching our planet and the impact humans have on it.

WE DO...
believe in global climate change (ask us about it some time). believe that the world is overpopulated and that many people just use too much. believe that as Christians and extremely fortunate human beings (that is to have been raised as happy middle class Americans with choices and the opportunity for education), it is our responsibility to care about the Earth God created and what we can do to live more respectfully within it. believe that "not knowing" is not a very good excuse.

like PETA, or people who harass or disrespect others about their own choices. live in the woods or go without toilet paper (shudder). like the cliche use of the word "green" (most of the earth is blue anyways... and brown is good too). think scaring people is a very good tactic for getting them to care. believe that the government can fix anything and everything, or that people should expect it too. like to support companies that don't use their power to do good (because that, my friends is the influence of the American citizen). expect our friends to make the same choices as we do (but if they want to, that's cool, we can help).

After everything, Jake and I really just believe in sustainability. We believe in living within our means as much as we possibly can. We believe in not consuming more than we need. We believe in knowing where our food and possessions come from and how they got to us. We believe in carefully considered choices about our lives.

Ok, stepping down off the soap box. The real purpose of this post is to talk about FOOD! You see, it turns out that what we eat is a much bigger deal than we grew up believing. I'm sure you know what I'm talking about because you can hardly even get through a magazine without reading that hamburgers are worse for you than ever before, french fries cause cancer and school lunches contribute to childhood obesity. So you make yourself a Cobb salad with egg and maybe some grilled chicken on the side. Then you turn on the news and see that the lettuce you used is infected with E. Coli and the eggs and chicken will give you Salmonella. You might have bought a Prius, but you find out that the food your eating means as much to your carbon footprint as the car you drive. What the heck is this world coming to!?

It all has to do with the fact that a lot of our food has been industrialized. We want it plumper, faster and cheaper and we need more of it than ever before. The family owned farms and ranches are being pushed under and the food monopolies are using and abusing hormones, conveyor belts and cheap labor to deliver. This is serious food for thought in the Curtis house (apartment). You see, we get a vote about all of this. In fact, we get a bunch of votes. Every time we go to the grocery store. Every item we allow past that scanner. Every piece of food we buy with our hard earned money.

So, we made some choices for ourselves...

We Eat Local & In Season
We are blessed to live in a (mostly) fertile state with a mild, Mediterranian climate. We are surrounded by family owned farms (even related to some) and we'd like to support them as much as possible. When our food comes from our very own part of the country, it's going save a lot of oil and emissions and be fresher, too.

We also know that EVERYTHING doesn't grow ALL THE TIME. Even California has seasons. If you buy an orange in October... that orange probably came from a different hemisphere. That orange was picked before it was ripe, shipped to the US and probably ripened with a chemical. We'd rather eat produce that's in season where we live. Whole Foods makes it easy to find great tasting fruit and veggies that are in season and grown locally without pesticides and it doesn't cost a huge amount more. We think its worth the investment.

We Eat Grass-fed Beef
Cattle raised on most industrial feedlots are fed corn, soy and other grains that are shipped to them (oil and emissions). Corn makes cattle fatter faster. The only problem is, cattle aren't made to eat corn, they're made to eat grass. When corn is fed to cattle, their stomachs form bacteria that are harmful to the cow and to people, such as E. Coli 0157:H7. Yeah, thats a bad one. I'll spare you the details on how the bacteria actually gets on the meat. It has to do with the conditions on feed lots like the one Jake lovingly refers to as Cow-schwitz (my apologies for the tasteless joke).

Feedlot Cattle

We buy and eat grass-fed beef as much as possible because it's safer and better for the environment. When cows are able to roam and eat grass, their stomachs are healthier and they aren't standing in their own infected waste. Grass-fed beef is also leaner, more nutritious and tastes great. Turns out, God got it right... duh.

Grass-fed Cattle

We Go Meatless (Sometimes)
No matter what kind of meat you eat, it has a higher carbon price tag than veggies. This means that it takes more energy to grow, raise and transport the same amount of food. Beef has the highest footprint by far, followed by pork and then chicken. We are CERTAINLY not vegetarians, but we try to eat our meat proportionally. We eat the most chicken, the least beef, and have meatless meals 2-3 times a week. We make that hamburger a special treat.

Four Cheese Ravioli with Fresh Heirloom Tomato Sauce

We Plan Our Meals
This is helpful no matter what your food goals are. When we plan out our meals for the upcoming week and make our shopping list, we save time and money. We are less likely to waste food and we spontaneously eat out less because we have a menu. I'm not saying we never get to a hard night where we say, "Screw it, we're going to In N Out!" (we're not perfect, after all) but we do it less when we plan out the week. That way we add dollars to our account and recipes to our book. This site has two great meal planners that are free to download. We use the one that only has dinners and eat leftovers for lunch.

Our Meal Planner and Shopping List

In the future, we would love to have a garden and grow some of our produce ourselves. We hope our kids will learn that not all food comes in plastic wrap.

If you want to learn more about what you're eating... we think Food Inc. is an inspiring place to start. You can rent the movie or visit their website.


  1. Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma
    by Michael Pollan? I think you'd like it, he has another (can't remember the name of it) more about food than the food industry but both are really good. I'm so proud of your sustainability mentality! bravo. Have you tried composting??? we are currently experimenting :-S, see how that goes. Love you!!! You guys are awesome!

  2. Haven't read it yet, but it's definitely on our reading list! We've heard it's great. We haven't tried composting yet, because of the size of our residence, but its something that we plan on doing in the future when we have a little space. How is it going for you? What the food industry like in Australia... for some reason I imagine it being more localized, but maybe thats just wishful thinking. You guys are great! It's amazing how we've been apart for so long in different environments, but still have so much in common. Love you!

  3. So is that in-n-out beef grass fed? :)

  4. Actually, I've read a couple sources that say it is and I've even called their headquarters, but I haven't fully confirmed it yet. That would be a huge victory for us. Haha.