It is quite sad today to watch families talk about dietary problems when they cannot explain what a basic diet should consist of. When conversations about diet revolve around enzymes, vitamins and minerals rather than milk, bread, meat and vegetables, we can be certain that we’ve been led off the tracks. We are happy to provide families with a simple guide to family diet that can immediately help at the grocery store, or be applied to the planning and production of the farm and garden.
Buying vs. Growing
There are two opposite extremes of family food sources: (1) buying supermarket foods and (2) producing farm foods. Based on our vocations and responsibilities in life, we will all find that the best situation for our families lies at some point in between these two extremes. The benefits of buying food include the ability to concentrate our time and effort on important work like education, business, public service, etc.. The benefits of growing food include physical exercise, family collaboration, nearness to creation, etc.. We must guard ourselves against unrealistic criticisms of supermarket foods and celebration of home-grown foods. Supermarket foods are readily available, relatively safe to eat and affordable. Home-grown foods require great labor, can be unsafe to eat and…require that one own land, tools, livestock, lots of time, etc.. The imaginary benefits of farm life often has more to do with discontentment than reality. Farm production is extremely expensive and difficult work.
Regardless of how you obtain your family’s food, the needs of our bodies are all similar. Once we understand what we need, it becomes much easier to think about how we’d like to get it. A family with a small garden can happily grow some of their family food, while buying the rest. There’s no reason to commit to an all-or-nothing position.
Disease is Probably Not Caused by Diet
I want to make it clear that I have no interest in getting into modern debates about personal nutrition–I don’t believe most of the stuff is even true. The general lack of physical exercise is likely responsible for more health problems than any nutritional deficiencies and, inasmuch as exercise affects the digestive process, I wouldn’t be surprised if the modern sedentary lifestyle is responsible for the multiplying digestive disorders. Moreover, as anyone can easily see who looks at causes for diseases, anxiety is an evil that is remedied only by good faith and morals, so a person’s spiritual and moral life also likely has more influence on disease prevention than messing with diet ingredients and medicines. I would never even begin to talk about remedies until I knew that the common causes of the problems were first removed. I have proven this true with people around me with different diseases. They needed to improve the overall quality of their lives, not mess with special foods or medicines. Americans enjoy healthier food supplies than anyone in human history and it is very unlikely that the diseases, if they are even real, are caused by what we eat. If a person isn’t willing to examine other areas of his/her life first, then I’m not willing to discuss food. There’s no way to eat or medicate oneself to good health.
Family Food Management
Using a standard set of nutritional guidelines, it is easy to calculate the weekly and annual food needs for any family. The following worksheet provides everything needed.
Directions: If you have a Google e-mail (Gmail) account, you can make a copy of this spreadsheet (File > Make a Copy) and then, simply change the number of family members in each category (the green numbers in row #8). In the left columns, you will see how much food is needed for your family for the year and each week based on these standard U.S.D.A. figures. Once you have those numbers, we can talk about how that food might be obtained–whether purchased, produced or some combination of the two. The numbers in the spreadsheet are those for my family of 12.
From Figures to Food
Once we have a clear sense of what we need in terms of quantities, we can consider how it might best be procured by and for our families. I will provide another worksheet to help with this soon…