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.