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Not really wanting to eat the food you grow

 
pollinator
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Location: Colorado County, TX, USA. 8b/9a. Humid subtropical, drought & flood prone
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So, shameful confession time: I grow and hunt/forage a lot of food. Actually I grow a huge surplus of food in terms of calories per person per year, not just for me but for my family and friends, but probably only 30-50% of my actual diet (in terms of calories) consists of this food. It is good food—a lot of it is great food—and I really like it.

But very often I would rather go eat Mexican or Chinese food (or Thai or Japanese if I can get it) in town, or buy different, more interesting things at the grocery store. I can cook good Mexican or Thai or Japanese food, but it’s not the same. Part of it is an opportunity to get out of the house and relax and not have to cook, and maybe meet my mom or a friend and visit. Part of it is novelty, although even when there’s a good variety of stuff in season on the ranch, I often don’t want to be bothered. Some of it is maybe seasonal oversupply of certain foods, and then I get sick of them. A lot of it is convenience. Some of it is probably food addictions; if I have cheesy fatty salty floury sugary stuff in town, I want more cheesy fatty salty floury sugary stuff. But whatever it is, I get sort of bored and restless and dissatisfied with everything I have growing and/or in the pantry/fridge, and end up wanting to go get other food, even if it’s kind of crappy. It’s sort of a form of relaxation and maybe even entertainment.

Pretty much the only reason I’m not worse is that I’m on a pretty severe budget and so I can’t afford to eat out a lot or buy a lot of prepared foods, but usually this just means that I use up my allotted food money in the first half of the month and then spend the second half resentfully eating cheap food from my garden/pantry while longing desperately to go sit down with a cold glass of iced tea and a restaurant meal. I thought growing and preserving my own food would be a bigger challenge than eating it, but turns out I was wrong.

Does anyone else have this issue, or are you all as delighted to prepare and subsist on the lovely, nutritious, non-toxic, free food you grow as I feel like I should be? Any suggestions for breaking this cycle?

I know this is like the ultimate first world problem. I feel like a tool even typing this. Nonetheless it is a perennial problem for me, and costly in terms of money and probably health, so I would welcome any insight.
 
gardener
Posts: 2276
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I think its a common problem. I don't want to give away stuff i make, like wine or fresh veggies, for fear it's not consumed/wasted. It's work to do this stuff.

The biggest change for me was making the transition from social eating to sustenance eating. There was no magic plan to get me there. It just happened gradually. Our diet can be very repetitive but we enjoy it.
 
master steward
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For me, it helps if someone else does the cooking. So, I go out and harvest all the radishes, and my husband cooks them....but even still, a lot of the food that likes to grow for us (kale, daikon radishes) are not foods we want to eat a lot of, so it's hard.

But, because we, too, are on a tight budget, and there's only two places we can eat at due to my husband's Crohn's, we very rarely eat out...but we still have a lot of meals of things that we didn't grow at home (steak, bananas, cheese, etc). At this point, we probably only get 20% of our calories from our property, and that's largely because we have egg-laying ducks and chicken, and we eat a LOT of eggs. And berries like to grow for us, so we make a lot of smoothies from them.

But, it is a struggle. It's a lot of work to harvest and clean and then cook the food. It's easier to get a bag of frozen broccoli than it is to forage for enough leaves to cook up. And, of course, we have kids, and they can be picky, especially about dinner. But, they do munch on a lot of stuff when we're outside, so at least some of the food is getting consumed that way!
 
gardener
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Hi Jennifer,
First, I'd like to say that I think you've made an important first step by being able to write this problem down.
Second, I'd like to suggest that you try keeping a simple diary of what you're eating and how you're feeling to help get more of a sense of the connections. You've identified several possible factors - "cabin fever" - "entertainment" - "socialization" - "don't want to be bothered".  I get a sense that you think these factors are connected, rather than it being just one of them and the rest are just excuses to get you out of the last one - "don't want to be bothered", but a diary may help you sort that out. "Knowing" is helpful in guessing which solutions would be most helpful, but I can give you a few examples which may or may not apply.

1. When I lived alone, I used to "cook for 4" and freeze 3 servings for future use. When I was younger, I *hated* eating the same dinner twice in a row, so I'd have a stack of home-frozen meals and in the morning I'd choose one to thaw for dinner.
2. Cooking healthy meals is very time-consuming. That time *has* to be budgeted for. Even relatively simple meals, like gorf soup, usually involves a quick trip to several gardens to pick some parsley, walking onion, kale, etc and the broth represents time spent early in the day or the day before. If you're working hard all day and haven't budgeted energy for cooking, I'm not surprised at all by your feeling that you don't want to bother. So keeping track of the time you spend in meal prep, and making sure you allow for it in your day, may help.
3. Another way to help near the end of the day, is to take some time early in the day for some of the prep work. I always try to pick lettuce early if I want it for lunch or dinner, as it's crispier before the heat of the day hits it. If you're going to need to pick, wash and chop veggies, consider doing at least the first two steps right after breakfast.
4. We have an over abundance of Muscovy duck, so it's become our main source of meat. I've really had to think outside the box to come up with different ways to serve it. Yes, simply roasting it, with roast veggies in the pan below is fairly easy, but it does get tired fast. This afternoon, I ground up ~2 lbs of meat and made a huge batch of spaghetti sauce. Then I invited neighbors for dinner (the social part!). It fed 5 tonight, I've frozen 2 containers that will each feed 3, and there's about enough for either lunches for the 3 of us tomorrow, or dinner if I supplement with a salad or something. Recently I've adapted both a Pad Thai and a Moo Shu recipe to use with duck.
5. Sometimes half the battle is making the decision. I had a friend who followed a 6 week rotation of dinner menus to feed her family. That idea could allow for seasonal adaptation. I have suggested to friends in the past, that they shouldn't plant things their family won't eat. The corollary of that, is "when you decide to plant, have recipes and ideas in place on many different things to do with the crop when it *all* ripens at once". Freeze, dry, can, 10 different recipes etc.
6. Humans are social animals - if you decide a big part of the issue is feeling isolated, that too can be handled through planning. Every Friday I go to a friend's place for dinner. We plan the menu in advance and both contribute. We play board games or build picture puzzles after dinner. The dinners are just everyday-type fair. It's like "family" only we don't happen to be related. It is important for my mental status.

Hopefully some of my experiences will give you ideas you can try. Good luck and keep us posted!
 
Posts: 158
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I want to eat junk food. My brain does not crave salad. So I discipline myself to eat vegetables. As I eat them I enjoy them, but come the next meal my brain is back to craving fat, sugar, and salt. This is a similar thinking pattern as experienced by a drug addict. When I eat healthy I feel healthy. When I eat crap I feel crappy. Everybody I know eats crap. When I don’t eat crap I’m a social outcast. I don’t want to feel like crap, so I eat my vegetables. I have concluded that my brain is out to kill me.
 
pollinator
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It sounds very normal to me, even if you don't grow it the contents of the fridge is never as enticing as the local restaurant. I used to have exactly the same problem, I'm not sure my cure will work for you though as it's a bit extreme (although unintentional) I moved somewhere with out pubs! No ice cold drinks in good company, no pub food (I'm British) the local town has a pizza joint, the next town out has two pizza joints, the biggest town and last one inside an hours drive has several pizza places, a burger place and a bad Chinese restaurant that doesn't do takeaway. Yes I get bored of my own food, but I get even more bored of Pizza!

I think part of it is having to decide what to make every day and then actually make it, it gets to be a real drag trying to think of something every single day, sometimes I really would like someone else to make the food and for me to just eat it. so things I do to try to get round this feeling... I make pre-prepaired wok mix for the freezer, just like the bags from the supermarket just homegrown, I do add tinned water chestnuts and I am lucky enough to have wood mushrooms that grow year round on my elder trees. I also make a dried vegetable mix and make an instant sweet and sour "pot noodle" with it.
really good for instant I cannot be *-!#% food. Pre prep doesn't stop you wanting something else, but it does give something else you have to invent an excuse to avoid.

You mention family, are the kids old enough to cook a meal a week? Or would hubbs do one? (mine will if I flatly refuse but then it is pasta and sausages) Or are they part of the problem wanting other "interesting" things? Having a break from the cooking is important I feel, even though I love cooking sometimes I just do not want to. As to food addictions, well to start with cook your "cheesy fatty salty floury sugary stuff" at home sure it's not healthy, you may not have grown it, but getting into the habit of staying home would make it worth it.

Oh and really don't think you are alone, all those glossy Instagram pics and Facebook posts, they only show what people want to show not the pizza box stack reality.

 
pollinator
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J, I`d say that if you like to cook, keep looking for a cuisine that uses the ingredients you have. Once I found that northern China seems to have most of what I'm growing, I started looking at cooking blogs and copying what I saw. Very few things that are hard to find, and many new ideas that keep it interesting.
(it also helps that where I live there are no restaurants that make the things I crave: no ethiopian, no korean, no homestyle japanese, no good chinese, no vietnamese, etc etc etc. Also helpful was developing ulcers, kidney stones, and IBS all at the same time, which basically shook my body down to the ground and made eating better a matter of life and death. I literally cannot do cheesy, fatty, salty, floury or sugary anymore. And that is just fine with me.)

But, that said, I work hard, and there are days when I say I would rather not eat than cook after a long workday. Those nights, we go out, because I just can't even. And I LOVE to cook. I only learned, really, when I hit about 33. Before that I made slop, mostly. So it's enjoyable, but if you don`t like to cook, it's going to be a hard sell!
It sounds like you may need to find some opportunities to keep yourself happy, whether that be going out for tea, community, art, volunteer work, etc. We talk a lot about feeding our body like that is so important, but your soul needs care and feeding too.
 
master pollinator
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Nothing grows better for us than Beets.  Unfortunately, we don't love them that much.  My husband is ok with the greens, but mostly won't eat the roots.  I was able to fix some roasted Beet roots that he will eat, but so far I haven't found a way to fix them that he actually likes.  So a lot of the Beets in the garden are being turned into mulch or compost.

https://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/balsamic-glazed-roasted-beets.html
 
pollinator
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I have many strategies for making scratch food more enjoyable and less repetitive, some of the ones that might help you, and to make your home food more indulgent. My mother and father always each their vegetables plain with the idea that they are supposed to be healthy, but they don't each nearly as much vegetables as we do, because our vegetables are loaded with fat and flavor. Greens are cooked with bacon, bacon fat, ham stock, etc. Green beans lots of butter and thyme salt, or sherry and mushrooms. I process my food into easy to use products, like thyme salt, frozen compound butters, make breading mixes and gremolatas in bulk and freezing.

I'm strange in that I'm almost always unhappy with others cooking, including restaurants, and I typically eat very small portions, so restaurants provide way to much food. But I'm aware that I'm not the norm. Hopefully, my tips could help.
 
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Hi, Jennifer.

I don't think your situation is shameful at all - I think it's probably pretty common.  We've run into it, here, as well - there are a few vegetables that grow really well for us and also store through part or all of our lengthy winters, but neither of us ate some of these vegetables prior to growing them for ourselves.  That meant we had little experience with cooking them properly, and didn't grow up with those flavors.  Luckily, we're pretty adventurous about food, but there were a lot of meals quietly fed to the dogs and chickens (and a lot of surplus fed to the compost) while we figured out what to do with 100 squash a year, or 50 pounds of beets.  We were pretty determined to eat what we grew, though, and we've adapted our diet quite a lot in order to do so.

There are some good suggestions on this thread already, but I'll add my thoughts:

1) Anything you cook at home from your home-grown food will be healthier than most restaurant food.  Go ahead and load it up with butter / salt / cheese / flour if that's what makes it appetizing.  This will also stretch your budget a bit, since even those expensive ingredients are cheaper to cook with than buy at a restaurant.  Some of our favorite dishes involve roasting vegetables in gobs of butter with salt.  You probably don't want to do that every day, but a few heavier meals a week likely won't be a big deal, especially if you're replacing restaurant meals.  Heck, sometimes our 'supper' is commercial corn chips with cheese melted over top, with salsa and sour cream.  I don't feel guilty about it, considering 90% of our other meals are fairly healthy.  

2) Pinterest, recipe websites, and cookbooks are your friend.  We sometimes surf the web aimlessly in the evenings to relax, and I've made a bunch of Pinterest boards of recipes for things we always have a hard time working our way through.  We also print them off, and have a stack of novel recipes for the things we tend to have gluts of; then, when we're utterly sick of our usual squash recipes, we can try something really new.  One tactic I have is to try to have at least 5 different recipes for a main veggie ingredient, each from a different cuisine - for instance, we have 2 good Mexican squash recipes, an Indian one, a Thai one, an American one, plus recipes for squash muffins and squash cake that all taste completely different from each other.  Both my husband and I struggle coming up with what to cook once we're already hungry, so having a stack of fallback recipes helps a lot, even though I often invent recipes on the fly when I'm not starving or pressed for time.

3) You don't have to eat 100% home-grown.  We grow a ton of our own vegetables, AND we buy vegetables from the store.  I love cabbage, but we've had no luck growing it - we buy a ton.  We like bananas and mangos and oranges, and those don't grow here at all.  We enjoy bok choi in stir fries, but don't really have space for it in our garden, and it doesn't store very well.  I kind of enjoy grocery shopping, and it's nice to get out of the house sometimes.  I don't think that's terrible.

4) It sounds like food is social for you, and eating out is a chance to hang out with people and relax.  Could you invite them over for potluck, or take turns cooking each other meals?  I used to have a group of single friends who took turns cooking larger meals, then hosting each other, so out of the four days a week that they did their cooking club, you only had to cook for one of them.  That might not work as well with families, but maybe it would - it might be worth a try.  Another option would be to do your socializing over coffee or tea at a cafe, after a large meal, so you're less tempted to buy supper.

5) Eating out also sounds like a chance to get out of the house - could you substitute other things?  Maybe trips to take some of your surplus to a food bank?  Sell at the Farmer's market?  Volunteer with an organization that you would like to support?  

6) Convenience - this one was a biggie for me when I did most of the cooking (my husband now does the majority of it).  I don't enjoy cooking at all, though I really enjoy eating.  There's two tactics I took with that.  One is to find a good roster of simple recipes, and keeping all of the ingredients for them in stock at all times.  Sometimes, I plan out meals for the week, and mass prep - soak the beans for several meals, or chop the onions for multiple recipes.  I'm not very good at following meal plans, though, so I only do that intermittently.  My second major tactic is to cook with an eye to having leftovers.  For our family of four, we make chili and soup in a two-gallon pot - that's three or four meals' worth, for us.  Now, we are okay with eating the same thing for supper for days, but some people don't cope well with that - the solution there is to freeze a meal's worth (or several meals' worth, in appropriately sized containers) for later, and then it's just a matter of thawing it when you don't feel like cooking.  Chili and soup are great for this, as are meat and tomato sauces for pasta (just cook the pasta while the sauce is thawing).  

Also, if you don't particularly like a vegetable, there is no rule saying you have to grow it.  Put your focus on the stuff you really do enjoy.  If you're trying to come up with creative ways to cook something you (or most of your family) don't actually like, it's bound to be difficult, and going out for dinner becomes that much more enticing.  

Finally, eating at restaurants isn't the end of the world, either.  If it's something you truly enjoy, why not give it a budget and a day of the week, and enjoy it in planned moderation?  Say, every Friday, you go out for dinner with friends, and cook / eat at home the rest of the week?  Then, you're not completely depriving yourself of something you enjoy; just putting some limitations on it.  
 
master pollinator
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Perhaps it would help if you concentrated on making very decadent food at home. Try making cheese. Make lots of things with nice thick gravy. Don't worry about how many calories, because you're making it from healthy ingredients. You can always have steamed vegetables on the side.

Invite somebody over. And sometimes have them come over and bring their own food. Or invite somebody over to help eat up your garden produce but get them to bring dessert that they made.

I am so in love with my own cooking that I eat it whenever possible. I'm a glutton who doesn't get fat while smothering everything in gravy or cheese sauce. Lots of physical activity.

I probably consumed 50% of my calories at Starbucks last week. But I only spend about $3 per day there. I bring in the food that I made and then I buy a drink. I read the newspaper or look at permies or talk to the many people that I know. They all know that I do this and it gives me an opportunity to pontificate about healthy eating.

 I also do a lot of my eating while on WhatsApp video calls to the Philippines where my fiance is. So there is often a social element to it even when I'm alone.

I wonder, are you going out for these meals mostly on your own to escape your husband and kids or is everybody going? Because if you're getting sick of the family, you have to tell them to give you some space at home. That can be a problem for mothers when someone is always tapping you on the shoulder with another request or complaint. And make them do some of the cooking. If they just can't cook, make them do the cleanup. When food is a job, it's probably not as enjoyable. It's just another thing you have to do. That's why I haven't become a gigolo. I don't want to ruin something that's just for fun. :-)

Are you striving for perfection with home cooked meals? That can be a pain for everyone involved. If people have to sit in a certain way and act a certain way and get really formal, they are less likely to appreciate your efforts. Do you feel underappreciated?
........
When I was a kid, the dinner table was the place to air grievances, put kids on trial for minor offenses and discuss punishment. But usually, the kids managed to dodge most of the flak, because my parents were bickering. It was mostly my mom airing grievances and  dad insisting that he was tired and she just needed to shut up and eat the slop she had prepared. If there's any sort of family upheaval going on, I think that's something that could drive a person to a restaurant.

I'm too in love with my money to make restaurants a big part of my life. I always look down at my plate and try to estimate what it would have cost me to eat the same thing or something better at home.
 
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Have you by any chance tried borsch soup? It uses beets and is beautiful and delicious, as the taste of beets is mixed with other veggies and a meat broth, a dash of vinegar and a blob of smetana cream.
You can also eat it cooked and cubed cold as a salad.
Maybe you could trade some beets for veggies you really want?
 
garden master
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I don't grow a calorie surplus but I hear you all the same.  What saves me is poverty and rurality -- I live a long way from anyplace that's fun to eat out and the cost (in time and gasoline) of going there to eat is prohibitive.  It's not that we can't, but we can't do it all that often.  

The other thing that saves me is a deeply ingrained taboo against food waste.  If I have produce expiring in my garden, I do feel obligated to harvest, eat, or preserve it.  

The way I try to thread all these needles is to plant less of the things I don't like to eat, while focusing on (a) figuring out clever ways to make things that grow well for me into yummy things I like to eat and (b) expanding my ability to grow things that I actually want to eat and that are currently expensive drains on my food budget.  So that I feel brilliant and smug and lucky and like I'm getting away with something when I pluck some in my garden (fresh and organic!) for my dinner table, rather than bored and obligated.  

Let's take kale.  I do not like it, Sam I am.  I do not like it in a pot, I do not like it in a salad.  I do not like it boiled, steamed, or mashed, or raw.  I do not like it, Sam I am.  

Fortunately, it usually gets eaten by bugs in my garden, so I don't get much.  And because it's ridiculously healthy, I don't mind chopping a few leaves so that they vanish into my vegetable soup broths and vegetable stews.  Usually that takes care of it.  But every so often, I have a surplus.

Well, now, that's a problem.  I do not like it, Sam I am.

It turns out that there is one way that I like it, though.  You know those yuppie snacks, at Whole Foods?  The ones that cost about a dollar an ounce?  Kale chips?  Yeah, that one.  Deep fried, covered in salt or cheese powder and other stuff that's bad for you.  Basically just a fiber matrix for flavoring.  But it's better for you than a potato chip...

I never buy kale chips.  I'm not that rich, and I would feel absurd.  (I only discovered them because someone else bought a bag and shared.)

Nor am I going to break out a deep fryer to make my own at home.  I don't use that much oil in my diet.  However, once I discovered them, it set a chain of experimentation in motion.  And it turns out that if you take washed chunks of kale leaf about two inches on a side, spritz them lightly with a mixture of flavorful vinegar and soy sauce, and dust them with a dry spice mixture of your choice (I like a mix of nutritional yeast powder, onion powder, garlic powder, and fine salt) they crisp up in an oven or high-setting dehydrator to make a very creditable kale chip.  Make them in bulk and they will store for a long time in a gallon glass jar (they do soften some over time) and they are a ridiculously healthy snack that satisfies any salt/crunch/need-to-chew craving you might have without being hardly caloric at all.  

And that is what I mean by finding ways to turn the things that I grow into things that I want to eat.  

Going the other way is a thing I have posted about before.  I constantly watch the food that goes into my shopping basket.  Pretty much everything is an item that makes sense to buy instead of trying to grow, but I'm always looking with a critical eye at the pain points: expensive recurring purchases.  It's never as simple as "I could grow that" or I'd already be doing it, but the thought process goes to "what could I substitute for this that I would enjoy as much, that I could grow" or "how could I change my diet or my cooking processes, so that I could substitute something that I could grow?"  

It gives me enormous pleasure to use produce from my garden instead of store-bought food.  I am a bad and lazy gardener with many crop failures and very little overall production, so I don't produce that much overall.  And I'm very familiar with that sensation of "I don't want any of my healthy crap, I want some junk food!"  I fully endorse Dale's suggestion and would amplify it: I feel like I am 10,000 times better off making "junk food" (only it isn't) with my own-grown stuff than I am eating some shitty supermarket snack.  I'm way better off preparing my own stuff using oils and sweeteners of my own measure and selection, than getting somebody else's idea of "good" that's done with HFCS, palm oil, and industrial corn processed six ways.


 
Jay Angler
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This has been touched on, but I'm going to state it clearly.
Turn what you grow but don't want to eat, into something you do, by processing it through an animal.
Example 1. Leaf cabbage grows well on my farm, but doesn't please the boys. My Khaki ducks *love* it and they give me eggs in return which are high in fat, which tends to be one of the things humans crave and which we need for good brain function. Don't worry, they also love worms and Lemna (duck weed), so I give them that among other things. Also in return, they give me fertilized mulch that I can "compost" (read - dump in a pile and let it sit for a year) which then provides fertility for my soil.
Example 2. Worms qualify as animals - anything you don't eat that you process through worms provides fertility/soil building in return. Worms love veggie scraps. And if you *really* have too many worms, the ducks will also happily help with that problem (and slugs).

I also back up what others said - if you're eating healthy veggies grown in healthy soil, and are physically active, don't worry about adding some of the things you're craving like fats and salt. At least at home you know how much and what type you're adding. We buy Hy's Seasoning Salt (the no MSG version) and we had neighbors come for dinner who brought a soup they hadn't salted yet. They were instant converts! (OK, I just checked and there's an ingredients list on Google and it's available on Amazon.com, but it's actually a Canadian product, so if you've never heard of it, that could be the reason! A little sprinkle goes a long way - we tend to just sprinkle it on top, not cook it into things.) The point is, that sometimes a small quantity of a special flavour makes a big difference.
 
pollinator
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Jennifer, I just wanted to say that I've totally been there and still struggle with this!

It's hard because there is only so much time and energy. There's only so much you can under realistic constraints to make something delicious out of what you have on hand. And I understand wanting to eat well. Life is short, we might as well enjoy every meal
 
gardener
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You sound like a success story to me!
You are producing a surplus,  something we all aspire to.
Someone mentioned delicious borscht, let me suggest kvass, devious and popular with the health food crowd.
If you can convert your surplus into cash or trade, your success at homesteading could feed you some nice restaurant meals.
That would be a good thing,  as they bring you comfort and joy,  and the experience that you are buying contributes to someone's livelyhood.
I know a farmer that supplies chefs, and grinds grain for other farmers.
He eats like a king,  and rarely pays in cash.

Whatever you do, I hope you enjoy yourself.
Life is hard enough without cultivating guilt over what you enjoy eating.
 
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Yes. Just yes. To all of this. All the time. FOR REAL.

Thank you! *hands to forehead and bows*  We're not worthy.

I fight this, too. I grow lot's of food, but then want to eat potstickers from Trader Joes and Sushi.

I decided to practice radical acceptance for how I am, and left it up to the process. I have a food budget, and I try new recipes, and I use discipline and all the other great advice from the other people on this post who know more than me. And I also start from a place of radical acceptance. Because I don't know about you, but I'm a Taurus and I don't like being told what to do. (Oh, wait. That's a human thing, right?) If I feel I HAVE to do something, I instantly repel from it, and want to do the opposite. I found that taking the "have to" out of my thought process about the food we grow, and instead cultivate this process of dropping the "shoulds" and meeting the "want to's" has helped me tremendously. With boundaries, of course. The buckshot approach, point towards the target and something's bound to hit it bulls-eye.

It's like water. Water will fill out whatever container we put it in, right? If I have money, I'll buy more food outside of our farm. When we are tight on money, we buy less food from outside the farm. You've noticed this, right? You fit your food costs to your income. With some grumbling, but still fitting it. That's your process. Celebrate yourself. If or when we face food insecurity in the coming years ( I fear it's when...) then you will be well rehearsed to grow, eat, share and cultivate. You've had all this practice! You will miss Thai food. Or learn to cook it. Or go without. Or contract with a person who knows how to cook it and barter. Your water will fill that vessel. If everything in society breaks, I will cry big, despondent, alligator tears for La Croix when it's gone, and then go on. Because that's what we do.

I also eat way more from the farm now than I did 10 years ago when I was gardening in our suburban back yard. When I started growing food, I would get nauseous when I tried to eat lettuce from the garden. I tried to fight it, but then I just accepted it, and now I choose lettuce from our kitchen garden. I even picked a slug off some this morning before I gave the leaves a bath and ate that salad at lunch. And the tonnage of arugula I plow through from May to October is obscene. Whereas 2 years ago, I hated it. All part of the process.

I accept and celebrate every square inch of you. The only sure thing is that the you that will be next year will look really different from the you that is now. And all those versions of you are just fabulous.
 
pollinator
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Lindsey - I've also got a weakness for potstickers. It's genetic and my teenage daughter got it big time. We are always encouraging her to a) eat healthy foods; b) eat what we grow and have on hand; and c) cook whenever the urge strikes her. Anyway, she gravitates toward Asian food cultures, and so she checks out library books and surfs the web looking for recipes. Thanks to this combination of circumstances, we tried our hand at some dumpling variations and THEY ARE SO EASY.

The beautiful thing is that you can take almost any fresh vegetable, chop it into small bits, stir fry it with some garlic and ginger (plus whatever else gets your motor running), and encase it in little circles of dough. Then you can steam them, fry them, bake them, and serve them with all manner of sauces and watch them disappear. If we've got a little bit of leftover roast, some chicken scraps, or that one lonely sausage that didn't get eaten a couple of days ago, it gets minced up and chucked into dumplings with the vegetable filling.

The best part is if you set up to make a bunch they're easy to freeze for later.
 
Jay Angler
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I just thought I'd mentioned that we only have "planned-overs" in our fridge. By the time them become "left-overs" they're usually duck or chicken feed.

The trick to planned-overs is not just to intentionally cook too much of something for immediate consumption, but to have a plan for its future use. If that plan is short term, refrigerate, longer term freeze. I have a friend who freezes cooked brown rice in stir-fry sized containers. Pot stickers sound like an awesome vehicle for planned-overs!

Psychology gets involved when we change the way we speak about foods (and other things) that shouldn't be overlooked, trivialized or discounted.
 
Posts: 1690
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I don't usually successfully grow enough to be anything other than be delighted to eat whatever survived.
 
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For me the experience I had with bread was similar as I am currently (slowly) experiencing for quite a lot of food. Over a 5 year period (starting about 11 years ago, I started making white bread in a breadmaker, then brown in the breadmaker, then brown bread with yeast, then slower rises with less yeast, then finally sourdough whole wheat/rye. I think each stage was important to it not feeling like deprivation and being sustainable and relatively easy (I'm not sure I'll ever go without bread completely, even though the flour is unlikely to ever be grown on our farm).

Like you, I have a lot of sugar/flour/cheese addiction stuff. What's been helpful is to give myself a lot of leeway within a very generous set of parameters, and gradually the parameters shift (and surprisingly, so do my taste buds-- we recently traveled to see family in a city far away, and I no longer wanted Starbucks or other foods I used to really crave when we first moved onto our farm in South Africa). I still do grow a lot of stuff I don't like. The stuff that grows easily is often not the same as the stuff I like to eat. I give myself a free pass and say: as long as I'm eating a few more fresh fruits and vegetables than last week, it gradually adds up to something where I'm getting to the point where I grow what I eat. Between the 7 of us we do eat a lot of what is grown, in various forms.
 
Jay Angler
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@ Jo Hunter - What I like about my bread machine, even though it's not perfect, is that I can add things cheaply. One thing I always add is wheat germ. If you're buying flour, "whole wheat" in our area, does not include the germ as it goes rancid too quickly. I buy fresh wheat germ and keep it in the freezer and add a couple of tablespoons when I'm starting bread. One year my friend had a bumper crop of squash. I grated and dried some, and I can crush it and substitute for some of the flour. I can use my sourdough babies in the bread machine, but it's a bit iffy, so I usually make a no-knead sourdough oven-baked bread with them.
Personally, I think there are several reasons so many people are becoming reactive to grains - 1. the grains are subject to abusive situations to create new varieties which may have advantages to the companies that sell them, but seldom have advantages to the people eating them, 2. if the grain's being grown in depleted soil, the nutritive value will be skewed to the "junk food" of modern fertilizers,  3. unless organic from a trusted farmer, there is the risk of pesticide or pollution residue and 4. I've read a little about how commercial bread is made - extremely short cycles for rising etc and there are suggestions that method of preparation makes the whole situation worse for the consumer. From item 4's perspective, a home bread machine isn't a great improvement - mine rises for about an hour compared to 8-12 hours for my no-knead bread - but I think it's healthier than some alternatives as I don't add any preservatives.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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You are all most excellent human beings!

I didn’t really have a lot of hope for changing this pattern, and this thread was kind of a hail mary, but y’all have given me some really good stuff, and made me feel less awful.

I have been keeping a diary as suggested. So at first I thought the main problem was not wanting to be bothered/sheer laziness/chronic creeping exhaustion. But then I was thinking about cooking decadent food at home, which I initially resisted. I had made a rule that I would not have or cook unhealthy/processed food in the house (except for the really terrible stuff my dad likes, which I am not tempted by), on the theory that not having it in the house would prevent me from eating it. I thought this was a sound theory. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that since I was leaving the house to eat even worse food, there was a flaw in my plan. And it turns out that when I have something exciting to look forward to eating, I don’t mind the hassle of harvesting and preparing. And it also turns out that when my brain is bathed in happy chemicals from delicious food, I no longer feel nearly as much need to get out of the house to burn off my irritation and have bitch sessions with my mom and friends. I am single, but I am the only caregiver for my dad who is paralyzed and has Alzheimer’s, and so I have some stress about that. I was having to cook him separate meals before cooking mine, because he has reverted to more childish tastes and prefers processed glop. So now he is more likely to eat the food I cook for myself, which is not processed glop, but is less like “health food”—so I mostly only have to cook one set of meals for us, not two! And I don’t have to endure the soul-killing experience of melting a giant block of Velveeta over my lovely vegetables to get him to eat them. Which gives me one less thing to gripe about, too.
 
Dan Boone
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A tiny example: for my own reasons, I prefer not to include animal products or added oils in my cooking -- it's not a 100% rule but it's pretty important to me.  However last year I had a pretty large crop of garden tomatoes.  I purely love garden tomatoes and was eating pounds of them every day. (Possible exaggeration, but not by so much.)  But then I finally realized that my enjoyment of them was impaired (and I was starting to begrudge eating the ones that were a little bit tough or less sweet or extra acidic) because so many ways to eat tomatoes are 1000% better with a bit of genuine mayonnaise. I decided that (for example) if a tablespoon of mayo would let me start making main meals of tomato sandwiches on good whole grain bread, I should probably relax a little.  So I did, and my overall diet improved enormously in consequence.

I did, however, decide (but have not yet acted on the decision) that as little mayo as I eat, I'd be better off sourcing a few really high quality local eggs and a really good light olive oil and making my own mayo, rather than just buying the three dollar grocery store soy/canola-based industrial-egg "stuff".
 
Jennifer Richardson
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Location: Colorado County, TX, USA. 8b/9a. Humid subtropical, drought & flood prone
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Dan Boone,  

That is a great point. “Straight” produce on the ranch has gone from being a delightful luxury to something of a psychological burden since many of my plants began producing at levels I can’t keep up with. I spent a period of time grimly staring down my eighth or tenth grapefruit or summer squash of the day, every day, but ultimately couldn’t sustain it. I am now allowing myself to make the vegetables into cream soups, pasta sauce, etc (I am so sick of plain vegetable soup and stir-fry I could die).

The fruits and nuts have begun to pay off in unexpected ways over the past few years, in that they so far exceeded my ability to keep up with them that I’ve given my friends and extended family permission to pick as much as they can cart off, just to not have to see so much of it rotting on the ground, and they have started to return to me in the form of jellies, jams, marmalades, syrups, chutneys, pickles, sauces, etc. in greater variety than I could ever prepare. Now that I am allowing myself to make breads, cakes, pancakes, etc. I have a way to eat the preserves, too. And I can make homemade ice cream with my various fruits again, which also uses up excess eggs!

I would eventually like to mitigate some of my wheat flour and sugar consumption, and find a local source of raw dairy (I did dairy goats and cows in the past, but never again) but at least this way the food, if not ideal, is at least homemade and organic and incorporates what I grow. And much cheaper! All I needed to buy to indulge my most forbidden desires were flour, sugar, baking powder, milk, butter, and cheese, all of which added up to the cost of one nice restaurant meal.



 
Tereza Okava
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I am a big one for "rules". And I make nearly everything, just as background.
Way back we decided to cut frying. No more frying in the house, want to eat something fried you need to eat it in a restaurant. (that was the year I learned how to make gobhi manchurian with local cauliflower, I gained at least 10 pounds. It was also the year my daughter tried to make french fries one night when I wasn't home and nearly burned down the house, and also ruined my stove). We kept that rule for maybe 6 or 7 years.
This year I had a hankering for japanese pork chops (tonkatsu) and I got me a bottle of oil. Husband saw me heating it up and asked what was going on. I think I've only done it twice now, and frankly now we just don't really even want to eat fried things anymore, but every once in a while is not a big deal. Flexibility is a good thing!

As for garden gluts...
Yesterday I dealt with my mustard-greens-and-spinach-like-plant glut and made a pot of sarson ka saag. We very much dislike this kind of greens but cooked this way, I can manage to use up an entire harvest and the flavor is out of this world!
I also give a lot away. I make a cake with my citrus, I send at least half to work with my husband (I work alone in a home office, so no help here....). He has a car repair shop and mechanics can always be counted on to eat baked goods.... When it's herb/passionfruit/pepper/cucumber season, I bring those things to my professional events (we have a monthly gathering of colleagues) and everyone is thrilled to have produce, since I'm the only one with a garden. I get so much joy from giving things away.
You have a really hard situation with your dad, maybe you can get yourself a little extra spark in your heart being that nice lady who brings goodies to the office staff at your dad's doctor's office (or whatever interaction you might have, post office, etc).
And when you have a glut, ask in the forum!! I spend a lot of time googling "too many oranges what to make" "how to use up eggs" "best okra recipes" etc etc and the ideas here can be pretty good.....
 
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I'm glad you're in a better place with this.

My only contribution, if you still needed it, would be to stop growing utility food.  Instead, grow what you really want to eat.  
 
Jennifer Richardson
pollinator
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Location: Colorado County, TX, USA. 8b/9a. Humid subtropical, drought & flood prone
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Tereza,

Great ideas, thanks! It would be fun to bring people treats again!

Terri,

Thanks! I definitely grow what I like to eat, but even stuff I love (and I love almost all fruits and veg) gets really old after awhile, especially eating it “straight up” so to speak. Letting myself make cakes and cream soups and pasta dishes and fajitas with it once the shine has worn off the unprocessed version has really enlivened things. And I find it makes me feel more like I have had a meal and not just a collection of foods, if that makes sense.
 
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So glad you brought this up - the fight is real.

A trick / mental crutch I use (on a good week):  I separate out the thinking from the doing.  So when I'm feeling all bright eyed and bushy tailed I make a realisitic meal plan for the week. Then each the morning I look at the piece of paper and pull anything I need out of the freezer. Later I pull other ingredients out and get on.  All the decision making is done when I'm feeling motivated to make good decisions, I just have to follow my own instructions when I'm getting tired and hungry - so much easier. And this way I only have to make good food decisions once a week
 
Brigitte Picart
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There's an approach to eating that may be a little too hedonistic when you're the one growing it. I've read posts on this thread that made me think folks are still carrying the city-dweller, indulgence-seeking mentality, craving fast foods, fried stuff, variety in ethnic origin etc.
Whereas once you live in the countryside and you shop for veggies in your own kitchen garden, you need to have a change of focus: you need to think of food as nourishment and preventative medicine first. Your fibers, your greens, your carbs, your vitamins and minerals.
The taste of home-grown everything being a lot better than store-bought, flavorful veggies can be prepared with minimal processing, most of the time boiling or steaming, and a dab of butter will do, or added grated cheese, or a bechamel sauce flavored with anything (curry spices, tomato paste, meat or fish broth etc.) poured over the veggies, or for added oomph, a generous sprinkling or grated cheese on top and a short stay under the grill will make a delicious gratin, what you in the US call a "casserole".
Long ago ountry folks had a more down-to-earth attitude towards meals, that could help in reconsidering one's approach: during the week they ate the same thing over and over, the same soup, the same potato dish. Some are so good that it doesn't matter if one eats them almost every day of the season. Variety is brought by salads and desserts, but the main dish is the same, and nobody thinks of complaining.
 
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Dennis Mitchell wrote:Everybody I know eats crap. When I don’t eat crap I’m a social outcast.



Is it possible to develop a new social circle where you live? When I was a graduate student in North Carolina, I was already a vegetarian (still am), and got discouraged that every major social event was a "pig pickin'." So, I found a local vegetarian group, who met once a month for a vegetarian potluck, and they became one of my main social outlets.

The part about "Don't want to be bothered" is intriguing to me. Maybe it's because of my autism, but I find that repetitiveness in meals doesn't get old at all. If someone gets tired of a given food, it makes me question how much they really liked that food in the first place. I could be happy on Raisin Bran every morning, fruit and a PBJ every lunch... for me the challenge is to keep enough variation to keep in balance. I did a two month permaculture internship in Ecuador, and I became convinced that I could almost live on bananas and cacao alone! Of course, that wouldn't be very nutritionally balanced in the long run. Still, when I moved to the Dominican Republic, bananas and cacao were the first permaculture crops I planted.

Jennifer Richardson wrote:That is a great point. “Straight” produce on the ranch has gone from being a delightful luxury to something of a psychological burden since many of my plants began producing at levels I can’t keep up with. I spent a period of time grimly staring down my eighth or tenth grapefruit or summer squash of the day, every day, but ultimately couldn’t sustain it.



A life lesson from the Dominican Republic: never eat nine mangoes in one day!

Jay Angler wrote:I also back up what others said - if you're eating healthy veggies grown in healthy soil, and are physically active, don't worry about adding some of the things you're craving like fats and salt.



It must be borne in mind that our cravings for sugar, salt, and fat comes from our evolutionary history. They served our prehistoric ancestors well. A hunter-gatherer's main source of sugary flavors (besides wild honey) was fruits; so those who craved sugar ended up eating enough fruits to get enough vitamins. Salt was hard to come by except on the coast, so those prehistoric hunter-gatherers had to eat what salt they could find when they could find it, to ensure enough trace minerals. Fat is the most energy-dense macronutrient, but wild game has less of it than domestic livestock, so hunter-gatherers living a strenuous life of hunting and foraging over wide areas did best if they ate as much fat as they could get. Living under those conditions, craving sugar, salt, and fat was the best survival strategy; these cravings only became harmful when highly productive agriculture and industrial salt production made these things available in huge quantities prehistoric people never dreamed of.

 
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Jennifer Richardson wrote:So, shameful confession time: I grow and hunt/forage a lot of food. Actually I grow a huge surplus of food in terms of calories per person per year, not just for me but for my family and friends, but probably only 30-50% of my actual diet (in terms of calories) consists of this food. It is good food—a lot of it is great food—and I really like it.

But very often I would rather go eat Mexican or Chinese food (or Thai or Japanese if I can get it) in town, or buy different, more interesting things at the grocery store. I can cook good Mexican or Thai or Japanese food, but it’s not the same. Part of it is an opportunity to get out of the house and relax and not have to cook, and maybe meet my mom or a friend and visit. Part of it is novelty, although even when there’s a good variety of stuff in season on the ranch, I often don’t want to be bothered. Some of it is maybe seasonal oversupply of certain foods, and then I get sick of them. A lot of it is convenience. Some of it is probably food addictions; if I have cheesy fatty salty floury sugary stuff in town, I want more cheesy fatty salty floury sugary stuff. But whatever it is, I get sort of bored and restless and dissatisfied with everything I have growing and/or in the pantry/fridge, and end up wanting to go get other food, even if it’s kind of crappy. It’s sort of a form of relaxation and maybe even entertainment.

Pretty much the only reason I’m not worse is that I’m on a pretty severe budget and so I can’t afford to eat out a lot or buy a lot of prepared foods, but usually this just means that I use up my allotted food money in the first half of the month and then spend the second half resentfully eating cheap food from my garden/pantry while longing desperately to go sit down with a cold glass of iced tea and a restaurant meal. I thought growing and preserving my own food would be a bigger challenge than eating it, but turns out I was wrong.

Does anyone else have this issue, or are you all as delighted to prepare and subsist on the lovely, nutritious, non-toxic, free food you grow as I feel like I should be? Any suggestions for breaking this cycle?

I know this is like the ultimate first world problem. I feel like a tool even typing this. Nonetheless it is a perennial problem for me, and costly in terms of money and probably health, so I would welcome any insight.



You have gotten a ton of replies  I had this same problem, what I did was got a variety of seeds, I have ground cherries, melons and strawberries when I need sweet. I got used to not having a bunch of sugar after about a week. The only time I use it is in my morning coffee of at dessert time,  but it's all what works for you p.s. chocolate chips in smoothies help out a ton !
 
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Great and honest contributions.
I think this problem is even more common for your avg gardener than for permies.

One solution is fermentation. I've got heaps of radishes which no one wants to eat, but pickle them with a little carrot and you've got a probiotic that everyone hankers for.

It took me years to learn to make vegetarian imitations of meat meals that dyed-in-the-wool meat-eaters really enjoyed. A lot of spices and caramelization (and frying things off separately, then mixing at the last minute) seems to be key.

Fats will also smother bitter tastes and carry spices effectively - my family hates pak choi, but won't notice it wrapped in cheese and pastry.
No one will eat the basil until its turned into pesto, then it is cherished.

The main thing that makes me resigned to eating what I grow is a lack of transport, a disdain for money and disgust at the carbon footprint involved in food production, preparation and the inevitable waste.
Food and transport are the source of the majority of our emissions.
Eating from the garden is the single-most noble and environmental action you can take - and if you do, I'll think your a hero because its not always easy.
 
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Jennifer R......If you don't mind my asking, what was your diet like as you were growing through your childhood, adolescent, and teen years?  What kinds of foods were associated with what kind of dining experiences?  As an example, my midwestern SSSF diet (salt, sugar, starch, fat) with sides of garden/canned vegetables characterized the evening dinner table.....which also was a pretty stressful family affair for reasons too numerous to go into.  By contrast, junk food and restaurant intake was associated with fun and carefree times with friends away from home.  Although today I will enjoy whatever is coming out of the garden in season (still am not so fond of frozen or canned produce), junk food *probably* is satiating not only the primal craving for fat/salt/sugar, but for me also tracking, psychologically-speaking, on those neural connections associated with friends away from home.  There's a corollary here that I'm still having to buck the negative association between eating (in any form) and being at home.....something that my wife had observed a long time ago.  As an aside, wife herself was suburban-raised with no garden, but dreamed of life in the country....where she could reproduce the family situation and edge-of-town forays that she remembered from her youth.  Easily 80% or more of her diet is from the garden, even year round as she prefers all frozen/canned food from there over any store/restaurant-purchased processed food.  For her, "home" has always been the focus....and growing her own food is just icing on the cake (so to speak).  I guess my point is that there may be a psychological component to this musing in addition to the social/gastronomical angle.  In the end, don't beat yourself up over it.  Most of us have to transition into a Permie life, from a decidedly non-Permie past, and each on their own calendar.  Good luck!
 
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