Sometime in late December, I found myself practically jogging through Walmart. One kid was at a birthday party; the other was playing with a cousin. I had one hour to get a week or more worth of groceries and other supplies (alone - a rare treat) and drive across Jamestown to pick up the aforementioned kid at the birthday party. I passed another mom doing the same thing, who hollered an encouraging, "Go, Jenny, go!" It was the closest thing to a competitive sport I've done in years.
That day was a busy, pre-holiday rush, but it's not that out of the ordinary for my grocery shopping. I try to write my grocery list in the order of the whatever store I'm going to that day; I don't like to waste time. And I don't want to waste my life staring at food labels when I could be using that time for something better. The clock is ticking.
To say I don't stress over where the food I put in my cart comes from or how it's produced is a bit of an understatement. I generally try for healthful foods - lean meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, whole grains. And since I'm generally cheap, I like a good deal. Do I try for foods grown or produced in a certain way? Nope. If it's made its way to market, I figure it's good to go, because I trust other farmers.
The other night, I put together one of the best meals I've made in awhile - bacon-wrapped mini-meatloaves with twice-baked potatoes loaded with sour cream, cheese, bacon and onions. I used my trusty Instant Pot and my newest kitchen toy, an air-fryer attachment for the Instant Pot that my lovely family got me for my birthday. My daughters helped a little (mostly by finishing the chunks of bacon that stuck to the bowl). It took a bit of time, but it was well worth it. It was, in my opinion, time much better spent than the time it would have taken to obsess over how the potatoes were grown or what the pigs that produced the bacon ate.
(Before anyone asks, no, I don't have a recipe. I can tell you, sort of, how I do everything, but mostly it's a matter of tossing in what I feel like, in the quantity I feel like, that day. I'd be a lousy food columnist.)
It's worth noting that I don't always have time to put this kind of effort into supper. I'm a working mom with a never-accomplished list of chores in and around the house and farm records that I think are staring at me as I write this. So, you better believe that the occasional frozen pizza or other convenience food finds its way onto our table. Do I feel guilty about that? Not even a little bit. Nor do I always enjoy planning or making meals. Food, to me, is something we need to survive, and sometimes I'm OK with cutting corners to make sure that everyone stays fed and I stay sane.
If you like to read labels and agonize over your food, you do you. I'm not going to tell anyone how to live. I just know that I've got things I'd rather do. So, if you're like me, and food is a means of survival rather than a life-or-death decision, feel confident in your choices. The farmers behind that food you lob into your still moving cart are doing the best they can to give you a quality product, whether you think about them as you shop or not.