Food · let's visit

Let’s Visit: How We Talk About Food

windmill

Hi! It’s Wednesday! The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, the wind is blowing…just another beautiful day in the neighborhood.

So, let’s pretend we’re in my living room, and you’ve been a real pal and you’ve brought Starbucks with you because, well, you’re a real pal. We’re all comfy and just chatting away, okay? Hokay.

Today, I’m talking about something that’s not beef-specific, but is still a food thang. I thought of it this morning as I was making my morning cup of tea. I like a little caffeine and a lot of peppermint, so I use one bag of Bigelow’s Plantation Mint Green Tea, and one bag of Celestial Seasonings’ Peppermint. As I was pulling out the box of CSP, I noticed something that made me sad:

tea

Now, honestly, I try not to buy products with this seal, but I order lots of things on Amazon, and so I don’t see the actual product before I purchase and the pictures online don’t always show the most recent branding (not to mention I’ve been drinking this exact tea for over ten years because it’s my very very favorite). Also, the selection at rural grocery stores is often wanting for variation, and as more and more companies are choosing to brand their products this way, I don’t always have a choice. But branding is key here, because that’s all it is. More often than not, that little seal is a marketing tool. Why? It’s simple: there aren’t that many GMO crops, and I see this label on things for which GMO crops don’t exist. For example, on a quick perusal of my pantry, I found the following items with this seal:
Paprika
Cilantro
Fennel
Parsley
Quinoa
Salt (?!)
None of these have GMO counterparts, particularly salt since minerals have no genes to modify. So why on earth would they have a seal saying they are non-GMO? The same reason that products that don’t contain gluten and never have are branded “gluten-free”: marketing. And it makes me mad, because it doesn’t mean anything, but it imparts a message and is part of a greater campaign of fear-mongering in the way that we talk about and market food.

Think about all the terms we now use to describe food in this country: “guilt-free” means that we should associate guilt or shame with eating certain foods. “Clean” implies that other foods are dirty. “Cheat days” imply that we’re doing something bad by eating certain foods. Touting cleanses to rid the body of toxins imply that we are poisoning our bodies with the food we eat and obfuscates the function of the liver, which is actually responsible for ridding our bodies of toxins. “GMO-free” is supposed to make us feel better about what we’re eating, which implies that GMOs are bad.

I’m not saying this to condemn or judge the way people eat. I’m saying this because I don’t think we should let food companies or marketing firms influence our diets or our feelings about food. We, as consumers, should decide how and what we want to eat, with the help of our own doctors and healthcare team.

As far as GMOs go, there is no science (NO SCIENCE. As in NOT ANY) that shows that genetically-modified foods are harmful to our bodies or the environment. There is science, however, that shows that genetically-modified foods can help us feed the world by increasing yield and pest and drought resistance. There is science that shows that certain GMOs can fight malnutrition through added vitamins. Eating a genetically-modified apple is not going to be any different to your body that eating a conventional one.

(Well, it might be different to your toddler’s body because everyone knows that consuming—nay, even licking—a slightly browned apple slice will actual cause physical pain and harm to a three-year-old. (That was sarcasm there, guys, in case you didn’t catch it.)

The thing is, where this whacky marketing is concerned, food companies are only responding to what consumers say they want, or what they think consumers want. So, it’s time for us as consumers to help food companies understand that we don’t want fear-based or irrelevant marketing to become the norm in how we do food in this country (or anywhere). The best way to do that is to get to know our food and learn the truth about what’s in it for ourselves. Because, at the end of the day, companies are trying to sell us something to make more money, and it seems that there’s not much they won’t do to sway us to buy their product.

You know what I’m going to say next: ask a rancher. Ask a farmer. We know what we’re growing and have a whole lot more invested in it than just a paycheck. And instead of paying attention to fad diets, or Instagrammers, or the next gal that tells you surely you will die a toxin-filled death if you eat anything that’s not “clean”, paleo, and organic, listen to your own body, and talk to your healthcare team if you notice something that isn’t working for you. See how the foods you eat make you feel. We’re all different, and we all need a variety of foods to be our best selves.

By creating fear and misinformation about food, we are inhibiting the advancement and spread of technologies that could help us feed the world more efficiently. Many of us in this country are so lucky to have a huge array of food to choose from, but we can’t forget that not everyone in the world (or the United States) has that luxury. This fearmongering, misleading marketing, and holier-than-thou food shaming is such a privileged perspective to take about food when there are millions (billions?) of people hoping to just have enough food to stay alive.

So, let’s start changing the conversation about food. To start, #AskARancher! I’m right here!

 

On The Ranch

Baby Calves and the Blustery Day

windy dayY’all, I’m popping on today to tell you this very important fact:

It’s so windy.

Like, so windy.

I was over here, chillin’ out max and relaxin’ all cool, looking at my northern friends’ IG feeds of them feeding in subzero temperatures thinking I was some sort of winter sun goddess or something for being outside all this (albeit–they tell me–very mild) winter in just a plain old jacket sans hat and gloves and then…

…the wind.

I mean, there is no better way to harsh my winter sun goddess mellow than to look at a forecast like this:

wind

So yes. I recognize we definitely have the long end of the proverbial stick because it’s not snowing and this windy, but what on earth is the point of having a mild winter if it’s so windy you can hardly walk outside? We’d actually love some moisture, though, ps, if anybody up north wants to trade for a couple of days. And also, what on earth is the point of having a personal blog if I can’t gripe about my own personal least favorite (even before we moved here) weather phenomenon? And I’m not exaggerating. Wacey can’t even play outside because it’s too hard for him to stay upright. There’s something cruel about it being fifty degrees and still coping with cabin fever because we can’t go out.

And it can’t be fun to be a baby calf in this business. Woof. See above picture for proof. It’s handy that their mamas are hefty hefty hefty and thus excellent windbreaks, and that we have our fair share of abundantly-sized yucca under which the babies can hunker down when their mamas are otherwise occupied.

Anyways. If you’re snowed in and reading this, maybe it’s just making you feel angry. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s making you think that winter in the Southwest is just not all it’s cracked up to be. Unless you like wind. In which case, have I got the place for you!

Hokay. I’m done with my griping.

Actually, I’d like to call it whinging, because it feels both more sophisticated and adolescent all at the same time #thanksbritain.

 

Personal

Social Media Reality Check & Going For It.

I think you should just go for itImage source

We’re light on the ranchy stuff this week, since we have been mostly inside with sick babes! But, you know, in addition to being ranchy, I’m also a mama and a person and all those things, and so I don’t think every post on here is going to be related directly to ranching, since that’s not my entire life.

Does everyone have a “Social Media Reality Check” awakening? I think it’s not just me, but I’m unsure whether or not it’s a widespread phenomenon or is limited to those of us who are slow on the uptake. I mean, we all  see the “Don’t compare your life to someone else’s highlight reel,” “comparison is the thief of joy,” “you are fearfully and wonderfully made so be yourself”-type things, and the exposés about how much effort the big Instagrammers use to get those oh-so-candid shots, and the ridiculous lengths people go to in order to look good and “on” all the time.

But darn if it hasn’t just started to sink in for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve given up Facebook for Lent (maybe forever? Except the groups? How does one do that?), or the fact that it finally rained here last week and it woke up something in my soul because man that dust and wind will get you down, or a Bible verse or a new book or what, but I think I’m finally starting to understand.

Granted, it’s been a rough…half a year? Whole year? I don’t know. I’ve had a hard time with this move, as I’ve mentioned before, and finding my worth and getting into the swing of things (something that is a big part of my mental state) has felt so hard in this new place that I don’t love yet. Making new friends (friend dating gives me fits, btw. Why am I so awkward? Why can’t we just look at a gal and say “Hey, I’m hip to your jive, let’s be friends?” Or can I do that?), learning where things are, trying to feel sort of at home…it’s worn me out.

But you know, it’s okay that I don’t love it. I don’t have to love it. I don’t have to want to live here my entire life and sing with gusto about it from the rooftops (barntops?). Just because I don’t love it doesn’t mean I can’t like it, and grow here, nor does it lessen the love that others have for it. I do, however, have to appreciate and be thankful for what I can about it (the sunsets! No nosy neighbors! Wonderful people! Lower car insurance rates! Being able to be outside playing in the winter without being freezing!), and use my time here to help my future self, which for me means setting up or getting involved in some sort of business that I can take with us, since losing my job in the move was a big contributor to my feelings of inadequacy. I like to have a purpose outside of our family, and for me, raising children and being a wife is my best job, but it can’t be my only job.

Social media, though, has also contributed to those feelings, and I’m ashamed it’s gotten so far. I realized, with the help of the app I talked about a few weeks past on IG, how much time I have really been spending on social media and y’all, it’s not pretty. And I realized how damaging that’s been in this season.

So, in addition to adios-ing Facebook, lately I’ve spent time unfollowing. That feels strange, considering I want to grow my own following on IG, and it feels sort of like a breakup because there are accounts that I’ve followed on IG or on their blog for years. I feel like I  know them, which is the magic of social media, but they no longer make me feel good, and sometimes they make me feel, well, bad, and it’s obvious that I’m not really part of the community they’ve built. Which is not on them, of course. Just because it works for someone else (hi, BBG and “clean eating” and those weird studded Valentino pointy shoes and overalls and overly opulent lifestyles and weird 90s bucket hats and cleanses) doesn’t mean it works for me, and that’s okay. Maybe in the future we can meet again but not right now. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow.

Instead, I’m focusing on accounts that lift me up, or make me laugh, or make me think, or have great Bible verses, or feel aspirational in a way that’s inspirational instead of disheartening or completely unreasonable.

I’ve already felt a change, though. I’ve noticed it in how I’ve reacted to the boys being sick (I’m not stressed, I’m oddly zen about it), and how my mindset has changed about my side hustle (“I’m worth it, I’m qualified, it’s a good idea, it has a place, and it will take time to get off the ground but it’s worth it and I can do a really, really good job and make some money”). I think it’s also helped me react better to a situation in which someone was being little silly and unkind, and where I would have been angry or offended before, I chose not to take it personally, because the way someone reacts to a situation is a reflection of them, not me.

I’m not sure why I wrote this other than this is the sort of thing that speaks to me when I see it. Like yeah, I’m a ranch wife and a mama and a (budding) business owner, and I spend so much time raising my boys and trying to be the best wife I can and cooking and sweeping and cleaning and sweeping and also sweeping. But I’m also a person, an autonomous unit unto myself with interests and worries and hopes and dreams. And juggling all of those roles in this uber-connected world we live in can be so hard, especially when you see the gals who seem like everything is perfect. Or the ones that show a “real life” shot every now and then that feels so token it’s not even funny. Really, totally, unfunny.

Also, Brene Brown (and Jen Hatmaker and Tsh Oxenreider and Jamie Ivey and all those other amazing women I look up to) tells me I need to be more vulnerable, which is a word that actually gives me the shivers (like “moist” does for a lot of people), but when I hear her talk about it, she’s got a point. I mean, heck, even IG and Facebook have changed their algorithms to foster “community” and the only community I want to be part of is a real one, and I believe that can exist online if we let it.

And can we please let it? Because my closest friend live like a power of ten miles away.

Happy Thursday! Both of my children are napping, the sun is shining, and I’m spending some time on work and the Word before the chaos of dinner ensues, while also praying that we don’t have to go back to the doctor tomorrow.

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites: Podcast Edition

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This Friday Favorites is brought to you by a rough week. We started off so strong…great birthday party for Wace, I’ve got a new client, and Valentine’s Day was almost great…and then.

It’s been rough nationally because of what’s in the news, and it’s been a little rough personally because Buster is sick, and that’s meant a lot of frustration and driving many miles trying to get him what he needs to get well, and trying to prevent Wacey from getting as sick, too.

(He’s perfectly fine, he just has bronchiolitis, and his oxygen levels were a little low yesterday, but he’s already improved enormous amounts with the medicine he’s been given, and we’re hopeful that he’ll be healthy soon and that Wacey won’t get any worse. On a brighter note, all of these 200-mile-round-trip drives mean more Starbucks for me, right?)

I’m not going to comment much on the state of the world. I had a post written about it, but I’m not sure that’s what I want this space to be, because there are others who speak about it much more eloquently than I do (like Brene Brown. Go look her up). I’ll only say that in terms of the horrible events in Florida, I believe that we’re not doing enough in any realm and focusing on just one area isn’t going to get us where we need to go, and we need change somehow, for our country and for our children. On my personal front, I’ll only say that in terms of healthcare, our system is really not very good, and my family is lucky to have what passes for pretty good coverage in this country, and it still feels so hard. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try and navigate this system with less resources than I have. We can do better, and we really must.

So, in light of the negativity and the hard things I’m sharing my favorite positive podcasts. I don’t think we should turn away from the hard things, but sometimes my brain needs a break, and so I like to have a good mix ready on my phone. I listen to a lot of podcasts and audiobooks since we drive so much and go on so many walks, and since having something to listen to makes mundane tasks like folding laundry and cleaning the house more enjoyable! I’ve also been listening to some of my favorite childhood books on audiobook and it’s such a nice little brain perk.

Coffee + Crumbs: This is my favorite mothering podcast. They also have a blog, and it’s such a sweet, uplifting space for motherhood.

How I Built This: I love hearing how companies were built and it’s so inspiring to listen to their stories!

The Katie Couric podcast: Good interviewing is an art and a skill, and Katie’s got it. I love listening to interviews where a question pops into my mind, and then the interviewer asks it! It makes me feel so gotten. She talks to celebrities and influencers about their careers, yes, but also about life in general. I love hearing how successful people tackle hard things, and the ways they keep going even when they have failed or made a mistake.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: This is the podcast form of the popular show, and while some episodes are a little hippie-dippie to me, others make me want to listen over and over (Maya Angelou and Brene Brown, in particular). It’s about spirituality, and what matters, and how to navigate life in a more soulful, spiritual way.

Sawbones: This has long been one of my favorite podcasts. It’s about medical history, and it’s so funny and informative! No matter your podcast bent, you’ll love this one.

Smartest Person in the Room: This is a great podcast that tackles a subject (Religion, Hollywood, Mind-Body) from a bunch of different angles and the perspective of experts in various parts of that subject, and it’s really fascinating!

The Girl Next Door Podcast: I love this podcast and truly hope that one day they will make it weekly. It’s two neighbors who get together and just visit. They talk about everything and nothing, and it’s always so relatable and funny, and makes me feel like I have more friends ha.

The Longest Shortest Time: This is another great parenting podcast, and the host is another great interviewer. She interviews people about pretty much everything before, after, and during parenthood. I enjoy it because it talks about the stuff lots of people don’t talk about (hi, postpartum everything), and exposes me to different perspectives that I would likely not otherwise encounter in our dusty little corner of the world, and the stories are so moving, and I feel like I know more about diverse groups of people, which is always a good thing. There is a new host going forward, and I really hope it stays the same!

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey: I love this one. It’s mostly women, and it talks about parenting and life and entrepreneurship and art and books and food and all sorts of things from a God-centered perspective. Her guests are always interesting, and I finish each episode feeling inspired and motivated.

I listen to a lot of other podcasts too: politics, news, etc., but when I’m wanting something light or funny or uplifting or encouraging, these are the ones I pick. There are so many because most of these are weekly or bi-weekly, and I devour them.

Celebrate · Family

Wacey is THREE!

Today is our biggest little cowboy’s third birthday, and all of the cliches are true. I can’t believe how fast time has gone, I can’t imagine life without him, he’s the funniest little boy I’ve ever met, and he will always, always have my heart as the boy who made me a mama.

Three years ago at the time this post is published, I was tired after having been up since the very wee hours with what I suspected were actual labor pains (I was right). I was fussing about my hospital bag, and whether or not it was actually time to head to the hospital (it was). We didn’t know that it was going to be a long day, and that I should have eaten more for breakfast and maybe stopped at Starbucks on the way into town, or that just after eleven that night we’d be a family of three, all of a sudden. We did know, though, that it was a big day, maybe the day, and we were so right.

Our Wacey James is a chocolate-loving, giggling, ranchy goofball. He spends his days playing with anything with wheels, making up stories about his toys, reading books, visiting the horses, getting up to hijinks outside, eating snacks, palling around with me and Buster in the stroller or with daddy is the pickup, and watching movies since that’s the only way we can get this busy boy to slow down. He’s constantly looking after Buster (to make sure he’s safe and also not playing with any of his favorite toys), making him laugh, and letting us know when he’s up to no good with a very loud “Oh no Buster!”

He’s got his colors down, and we’re almost there on numbers (seven and nine are elusive), and he’s so excited about letters–he’s got W (“double Wacey”) and B (“B Buster”) down, and since he’s now memorizing his books and telling them back to us I bet the other 24 letters aren’t far behind. He’s not potty trained but I’m not fussed in the slightest–this boy learns and does everything in his own time, and when he’s got something down, that’s the end of it, so I know it’ll happen sooner or later and I won’t push him because it’s never once helped. He never crawled, and has run since he figured out to walk and has been talking a mile a minute since he learned how to speak.

Wacey has always been an easygoing sweetheart. He’s three, which means we have our fair share of fits and tantrums, and his palate is…limited, but even when he’s in a sour mood, his fallback is exuberant and it rubs off on all of us. I love how he walks into our room in the morning and says “Awake.” with this silly little smile, and his next words are to ask for breakfast. Or how he gets this specific look on his face when he’s asking for something he knows is a long shot, or how he reminds me regularly that Gaucho is not a toy, he’s an animal, after we had a conversation about how he can’t just assume Gaucho is going tolerate being treated as a practice bronc. He says the funniest things, like most toddlers, but of course I’m convinced he’s the funniest. He just ran into my room and yelled “TEXAS!” because that, for some reason, is what he calls “Bob Wills is Still the King,” and he wants to dance, and of course I’m off to go do that immediately.

I could go on and on about this sweet boy forever. But, I’ll leave it here, and say happy birthday to my first born, my blue-eyed boy who looks just like his daddy. I’m so excited to celebrate you, sweet boy, today and at your party this weekend, and every day in between and after that.

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Family · Personal

Family Pictures

Last (last) weekend, a momentous event occurred.

Picture it: all four of us. Clean, wearing real pants (or a skirt in my case), hair fixed, real shoes on…the whole nine yards. Up drives a flatbed pickup. To our front door. And out steps…Oprah Winfrey.

Just kidding. She’d never drive around in a truck. Well, maybe she would out here because these roads are hazardous to car tires as the two flat tires on my Subaru can attest.

But, I digress.

Oprah didn’t show up. What really happened was that we got our family pictures taken, which might make me even more excited? We worked with an amazing local photographer, Dunlap Photography, and I’m so tickled that we found such a dynamite photographer in our dusty little corner of the world. Especially one that comes all the way out to our house! The UPS guy doesn’t even come all the way to our house.

The Schwann’s guy does, though. Just in case you’re wondering.

Anyways. Jaymie came out and shot a pile of amazing pictures and I’m so thrilled. It’s been a long time coming–we should have gotten them done months and months ago! It was hard to narrow down my favorites, but I put in the work just for you because I know how invested y’all are in our family pictures.

(Okay, not, but hey, at least these prove that I do have actual hair.)

Disclaimer: if you follow me on Insta, I’ll be sharing these nonstop for, well, ever. Or at least until our next sesh. Sorry, but not sorry.

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I can’t get enough of the ones of the boys, especially. Oh, how I love this little ranchy frat house family of mine. I’m already excited for our next sesh!

Bert’s and Wacey’s shirts: plain old white pearl snap Wrangler
Buster’s shirt and jeans (that barely buttoned): Oshkosh
Wacey’s boots: Old West
My skirt: Francis + Benedict (CHECK. THEM. OUT.)
My shirt: Ralph Lauren