Relish the Food Choices Available

Guest Blog by Katie Pinke
reprinted, in part, with permission from On the Minds of Moms

As moms, the worldly pressures to feed ourselves and our families the healthiest, most nutritious meals seem to be everywhere: Meals should be homemade. Ingredients should be local. Or is it natural? Organic? These food “buzz” terms may confuse us.

That’s why I have chosen to rid myself of the food guilt mantra and adopted a food choice mantra. Food choice gives me the ability to buy at the grocery store while having a garden. Digging in the dirt clears my mind while teaching our kids a little about raising food, but I don’t want to go back to when my great-great grandma had to produce food in her garden in harsh weather conditions to feed her seven children. Unlike my great-great grandmother, if I don’t get the canning or freezing done, I can go to my local grocery store where a plethora of luscious food awaits.

The food in our grocery store is seasonal. It’s not always local, as in grown in my community or even in my state. But “local” is relative. We will never grow strawberries in the winter in North Dakota, and I don’t know any American banana farmers. But supporting different types of farmers gives us food choices. Food choices mean I can buy any food that fits the latest trend word, but I don’t have to.

Through ridding myself of mommy food guilt, I have developed guidelines for my food choices. Not rules, only guidelines, as I cannot always follow them. I support local options first.  But when I need a mango, I buy it. I purchase the mango at my local grocery store and know supporting a locally-owned business impacts my small town. I also buy some local meat from state inspected meat processors.

Where I am located, deep in the prairies of North Dakota, supporting food choice means helping support 32,000 farm and ranch families. Agriculture is North Dakota’s number one industry, employing roughly 25% of our state. North Dakota produces 46 different crops and livestock from honey to canola to beef to potatoes; North Dakota leads the nation in the production of 14 of the crops grown.

North Dakota is the number one producer of dry edible beans. Throw a few cans of beans into chili. It’s local. It’s nutritious. It’s a fast, easy solution to a family meal. Plus, you are supporting North Dakota farmers. Not only are you supporting local farmers, you are supporting a local grocery store and feeding your family. What a gift we have of food grown and raised in our own backyard!

The Upper Midwest is the foundation of food choices. That’s why I am not advocating for any particular food choice. I am advocating for choice. Period. Food choice is a beautiful freedom and luxury we have and one that billions globally never see. Rid yourself of mommy food guilt and relish in the choices you have to give you and your family the most nutritious, healthy and often easy food choices!

Copyright Erin Ehnle/ Keeping it Real: Through the Lens of a Farm Girl