Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Food Snobbery and Using the Food You Have

This year I decided to commit fully to making 100% of my family's bread. I had been buying bread for the boys, approximately 22 loaves per month, and I wanted to save money and increase the nutrition of my bread.

However, last spring we did a mostly gluten free challenge, and I ran out of einkorn, so I placed an order for 40# of einkorn berries and 40# of einkorn extraction flour. Of that I still have 25# of einkorn berries and 26# of einkorn flour.

I'm not going to lie; I find baking with modern wheat far easier than using ancient grains. Einkorn can be tricky in terms of how it absorbs water and it gets very sticky. It doesn't rise well, either. Given my choice I'd prefer to bake with modern wheat only. For instance, I've found that 100% soft white wheat makes a lighter muffin than 100% whole einkorn does.

And then there is the einkorn flour. I don't think it is unhealthy, per se, but it isn't a whole grain. Extraction flour has some of the bran sifted out.

However, that is 51# of einkorn in my house, food that I paid good money for, and it would be a shame to waste it. I could give it away to an einkorn using friend, but in monetary terms that is $153 worth of food. $153 is nothing to sneeze at.

I've decided that we will simply use the einkorn berries as we would soft white wheat berries; it should take about three months to use them up. I'll also use them in einkorn porridge once the weather cools; truly it is my favorite porridge.

As for the flour, I'm not going to waste it. I will use it for tortillas, biscuits, brownies, cookies, etc. as well as half and half in waffles. These aren't the healthiest foods anyway.

It is tempting to decide that you want to go in a new direction and to toss out everything that doesn't fit in with the new paradigm, but it is expensive too. If you are making the transition to whole grains and sugars I suggest you go ahead and use what you have. There is no way that I would put $153 in cash into the trash can, so why waste food?

Food is a precious thing! Even a bag of white flour, or white sugar, or a jug of plain vegetable oil is precious to someone. It is a gift to eat and we must always remember that. It is an even greater gift to be able to choose whole foods, but that doesn't mean we should become food snobs.

When someone offers me food I try to never make comments about the ingredients. A white flour tortilla offered in love or friendship is still a beautiful gift; to mention that you only eat whole grain tortillas would be a slap in the face, especially if you mention how having a white flour tortilla is such a treat. You are not "being bad" by eating refined foods, you are sharing a meal with someone. Don't judge what they serve you. Don't ask if they used white flour or if the produce is organic. Don't tell them you usually eat brown rice, or only use extra virgin olive oil, or that pasteurized vinegar is dead.

(If you have severe food allergies or celiac disease, by all means ask questions to make sure that the food being offered is safe for you. And if you follow a plant based diet for ethical or health reasons then feel free to let people know that ahead of time.)

This is also why I don't say no when someone offers me leftovers that aren't of the quality of ingredients that I would buy or use, or to accept canned foods that might have BPA in them (sometimes my SMIL will send us home with extra canned fruit that she has purchased, especially if she had the boys for a day or two and bought it for their visit). Food never belongs in trash cans if we can possibly help it.

The biggest thing that helped me really eliminate food waste was to visualize putting dollar bills into the trash can every time I found food in my fridge that had spoiled. Now I have this mental image that is repulsive and I do much better as using every bit of food we buy.

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