This series is a collection of personal Real Food Journey stories. I find it inspirational to read about the stories of others who are making a similar journey as I am. I hope you enjoy them, too!
I know you’ll love Chandelle’s story of transforming from a vegan to a WAPFer as much as I did!
And the Jars Begin…
City: Ukiah, CA
Blog: Chicken Tender
Favorite style of jar (i.e., quart mason jar, pint size jars, etc.): I like the quilted 1/2-pint jars. They make everything look so pretty!
How long eating real food: Roughly three years.
Favorite traditional food: Right now I am loving ghee.
What was your diet like when you were growing up? Did you eat a Standard American Diet (SAD)? Any traditional food practices, such as including organ meats, fermented veggies, homemade broth, etc.?
Textbook SAD. Tons of refined grain, HFCS, hydrogenated vegetable oils, feedlot meat. I consumed something from the -ito family every day (Cheetos, Fritos, Doritos). Plenty of fast food. My stepmother grew up on a farm, so occasionally she’d make something really authentic, like her ham & beans soup — beans soaked overnight, then simmered with a ham bone all day. Ah, I still love that!
My grandmother cooked some real food — her giblet gravy is still my gold standard, and she’d make asparagus with real butter. But my grandfather follows dietary trends so he’s always been on her about switching to low-fat margarine and canola oil. He still bugs her all the time about her egg consumption. She laughs at him because she eats butter and fatty meat and he’s the one with bad test results.
How did you first learn about the Weston A. Price Foundation/Nourishing Traditions?
I was a crazy, mean, militant vegan when I heard about the WAPF. Needless to say, I was crazily, meanly, militantly against it. Now I realize that, as in so many things, I fought so hard because on some level it was true for me. After several years of being vegan or vegetarian I had serious health problems, so I naturally gravitated to the healing methods of the WAPF. Now I’m a chapter leader, but I still try to maintain a certain distance and not close my mind to other ideas.
How and when did you start implementing these principles in your own diet?
I’ve always had a commitment to whole foods, even as a vegan. After I stopped being vegetarian, though, my health required special attention: wonky blood sugar, serious digestive disturbance, headaches, low energy, and so forth. The WAPF principles provided a helpful guideline as I added meat back to my diet and started considering issues like dairy, grains, and agricultural sustainability. I have children so I’ve found it useful to implement WAPF ideas for them, too. They were vegan or vegetarian for the first years of their lives, so I feel like I’m making up for lost time, and the WAPF has been very inspiring in this regard.
What was the easiest part of the transition for you?
Having a commitment to local, sustainably-raised foods. This has always been important to me, and I had a good foundation of understanding when I started eating meat, dairy, and eggs. I was already distrustful of greenwashing and supposedly “humane” standards, so I went to the source right away, bypassing the supermarket “cage-free” labels and so forth.
What was/is the most challenging?
The cost is a major challenge. Though my partner and I both work full-time, our family is low-income and food is a major expense for us. We’re trying to launch our own small farm, and I’ll consider it a success if we can just eliminate much of our food budget, even if we never make a profit.
Another challenge for me is the desire to support people of all shapes and sizes by holding the Health At Every Size model alongside WAPF principles. Even real food communities hold the conventional assumption that healthy = thin and vice versa. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable promoting the WAPF because I worry that people will write off what I’m saying since I’m not thin. My health is better than it’s ever been, but somehow this isn’t as important as my size. I wish the WAPF and other real food writers would encourage healthy habits without pushing weight loss as a bottom-line goal.
What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out on their own real food journey?
Prioritize, and be gentle with yourself (and others!). It can be so overwhelming to change absolutely everything about the way you eat. Decide what’s most important (raw milk? pastured or grass-fed meats? local vegetables?) and work with that for a while before adding something new. Allow a long transition for yourself because anything else might lead to burn-out.
I’d also advise that you be a quiet example without infringing on others’ choices. It’s natural to want to shout your successes to the world, but remember that your journey is unique and others may be in a different place. Give others the respect and compassion to find their own way.
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Past And the Jars Begin… Stories
This post is part of Real Food Wednesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Pennywise Platter Thursday, Keep It Real Thursday, Simple Lives Thursday, Whole Foods Wednesday, Farm Girl Friday, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, Sunday School, Monday Mania.