What is the 80% Solution?
Because The Best Solution Is Not Always A Perfect One
Dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical.
Given the choice, most people and nearly every person we meet really wants to live a cleaner life. They wrestle with their food decisions and even make attempts at living an organic lifestyle. Many folks take to reading online or at the local book store; they'll visit a health food store or two and make an admirable attempt to clean up their eating habits and their lifestyle. Nearly everyone fails. Why?
We know the scenario all too well. It goes something like this;
Say that a young mother of two small children reads an article or somehow comes across the valuable information that her children might be at risk for certain diseases from the foods they are eating. This mother reads article after article on premature development, better known as precocious puberty, growth hormones in food and meat, pesticides and chemicals.
She is alarmed and rightfully so and is most certainly not wrong for doing what she does next. She visits the local health food store and finds a store stocked full of food purists, each of whom has a different opinion on the many supplements and products that this young mother needs to buy to keep her children safe. $350 and five scary stories later, the young mother leaves the store feeling overwhelmed and confused and scared to feed her family anything at all.
Later that night after a tasteless meal of freezer burned organic meats and soy products she sits at her computer researching better foods to feed her children. How people can eat this stuff? She thinks, there must be a better way.
She is worn-out and has just spent her entire monthly food budget at once. After having read dozens of articles on the toxic effects of nearly everything she feeds her family and warnings on every product in her household, she has no thought what to do next or how she will afford it.
Determined to improve her family's health, she slaves in the kitchen for hours preparing complicated organic dishes in the hope that it is something she can bribe her children into eating. She gives up her manicures and hair cuts, stays away from the mall and instead buys pricy organic soaps and shampoo and squeezes money from the already very tight family budget in order to try and meet this expense.
This mother is really trying! And she keeps on trying in spite of her children crying at the table, her husband complaining constantly about the money and the strange food along with her two year old staging an all out hunger strike in demand of French fries from the minivan car seat. She spends hours convincing her daughter that the meatless sausage tastes “just like the real thing”.
Two weeks later, done in and just downright smelly from lack of a good deodorant and the fear of using anything with chemicals in it, she is starved for chocolate and anything that doesn't upset her stomach. Defeated, she finally pulls in to a fast food drive- thru just to stop the madness.
As the French fry bags crinkle in her children's hands, failure and relief wash over her like the shower she so desperately needs.
The addiction is strong and it will win- if you let it. We are used to fast and convenient foods. Many of us were raised on these new and exciting products. The problem is that we were never told what the price for all this convenience was. The fast food cycle is extremely difficult to break.
What went wrong? Why did this well intended parent who knows better and is willing to try to make the change, fail? Pragmatics. The rule of 80%.
The rule of 80% is one my husband, Al and I came up with after failing a number of times to clean up our diet. Organics really are a matter of life or death for me. I am fighting a chronic and progressive birth defect, I simply have no choice. So how would we solve the problem? Why was such a simple thing proving to be so difficult?
Raising our own all grass fed organic cattle on our farm gives us the cleanest meat available on the planet. But what do you do if you are a city dweller? Well, first of all order from Rosas Farms!
Each time my husband and I visited an organic trade show or picked up a book on organics we would learn of new and alarming things we should avoid. We would be determined to improve our lifestyle but ultimately just gave up from overload and the expense.
Our customers that come to our farm have shown us everything from magnets to special juices, holistic oils and herb tablets. None of these things seemed to me to be anything more than snake oil products and none of them appealed to my very pragmatic and skeptical personality. They didn't pass the “stink test”.
My background in medical research has taught me to take a hard look at what I'm buying. I just wanted to go to my favorite store that I know and I like. I didn't want to feel like I was in a strange Country with wierd food.
We became exhausted and were unhappy with the daily life changes we had to make this change. We felt like we were living someone else's life and that in order to be healthy we had to be hippies or purists. There are really wonderful zero impact things that some people can do and I admire people that sustain this lifestyle for their efforts. For us, it was impossible.
I am a heart patient, I need air conditioning. We need to use some commercial products in order to sustain our lives. We try to make do with as little impact on us and the Earth as we can manage- pragmatically. I could hardly show up to meetings without a shower and smelling like patchouli and goodness knows what else in my hemp sandals. Seriously, this raw image is still to this day the picture of what most people think of when you say “organic”. Eccentric foul smelling people with no creature comforts and nothing good to eat in their fridge. Everyone desperately needs a haircut at their house. There's no T.V. or telephone and their clothes and bedding have a weird smell somewhere between Cumin and Lavender.
I can tell you with 100% certainty, this is not our house.
Now I really like hippies, don't get me wrong and Fleetwood Mac is one of my favorite bands. I own more than one peasant top and plenty of soy candles. We recycle and use as little of our natural resources as we can. But we had to come up with a solution that was genuine enough to actually make a difference without being uncomfortable, causing us to give up. We knew this had to be a permanent life change , we had to " retrain our food brain" Henceforth -the birth of The Rosas Family 80% rule or the theory of “PRAGMATIC ORGANICS” SM. Our family goal is to live as clean as possible but to aim for 80% organic. We don't try to pretend that we can be purists, we can't and let's face it, we all have enough rules in our lives. That is why there are no " Rules" here.
Until recently, organic or clean foods were not available mainstream. Times have changed.
The fact is that we can indeed be hip, clean and healthy and have lives that we consider normal and still live pragmatically. The 80% solution is one that is affordable, really " do able" and fun.
Some days we miss our mark, we succumb to that diet soda or the non-organic hot fudge sundae and that's OK- it really is!! Some days we overshoot, we are brown rice, veggies and tofu all day but generally we eat about 80% organic and live as clean as possible with as little impact on the Earth as we can manage without having to send out a search team for our missing sense of humor or having to take a second mortgage to pay the food bill.
We've spent a decade educating and talking to families on our farm who ask “how do you do it?” we decided to write it all down. The secrets, survival tips and even the recipes are all here for you. We sincerely hope you take into practice the ideas in this book, that you improve your lives as we have.
We hope that you will additionally find some of your own ideas and share them with us. We hope to make you laugh and to teach you to be realistic, to loosen up without letting go of the lifesaving changes that can prevent you and your children from suffering preventable diseases or untimely deaths. And we promise it won't hurt a bit. Read on, enjoy and live long.
Yours in Health-Pragmatically
Chef Al and Erin Rosas
Ready To Get Started? Try the 10 Easy Steps!
It's Not A Health Kick- It's A Way of Life.
1. Set An Example
Don't be a hypocrite. If you want your child to eat organic vegetables instead of ice cream, show them that you're willing to live healthy 80% of the time for the sake of your well being and longevity. Teach them by example that food is life. Stop living to eat and start eating to live, your entire family will benefit. If you retrain the food brain to think about food as a vehicle for health and safety, it is much easier to learn to like the foods you once thought were health foods. You will be amazed at how horrible a fast food burger tastes when you haven't had one in six months. If you give your bodies a chance they will tell you what they like and reward you for making good choices. Teach your children about risks and benefits and why the food you're offering is a better choice than what might taste good right now. Remember you don't have to eat the elephant in one bite. Long lasting changes are the small ones we make, little by little. We're not suggesting you become purists. It's OK to have your 20% of food that isn't so hot. Just make sure it really is 20%. You'll find you want that 20% less and less as time goes on.
2. Stock your Fridge
One of the main reasons families fail at healthy eating is convenience. My husband and I spend two hours every other week preparing large amounts of a few recipes. We freeze them in sizes that work for our family and then they are handy and ready to heat up when someone is hungry or it's dinner time. If you know you've got something healthy and quick already in the fridge, it's much easier to bypass the fast food restaurant and head home to eat together. Families complain about the cost of organic ingredients and better food but many find that with a small amount of time management and smart shopping, they not only feel better, they will also start saving money and time in the long run. A few hours spent wisely each week will give you the freedom from waiting in line at fast food restaurants, picking up trash out of the minivan and vacuuming up french fries from the back seat. The fact that a glass of organic milk and a home made meal with organic or pragmatic foods is a bonus. Snacking is inevitable. Stock foods that your family can eat. Organic blue chips, organic apple sauce in single serve containers, cottage cheese, yogurt, apple slices, oranges, bananas, an occasional organic frozen pizza, organic microwave popcorn. We even have organic spaghettios and Mac and Cheese. Just remember that organic doesn't mean low calorie. Read your labels. The calories count!
3. Read labels to avoid the Big Three.
Avoiding the “Big Three” is key for our Pragmatic Organic SM. High Fructose corn syrup is in many foods. There is only one rule here- JUST DON'T BUY IT! No negotiating here. The devastating effects of this evil sugar include obesity, premature maturation and diabetes. You wouldn't inject your child with the plague, don't give them this garbage either.
Hormones and Antibiotics. The majority of these horrible additives are found in meat, proteins and dairy. WHENEVER it's possible, you must buy organic or hormone and antibiotic free milk, meat, eggs and fish. Avoid farm raised fish and go for the wild caught. Most farm raised fish is unhealthy.
Trans Fat or Partially or Wholly Hydrogenated Oils. Keep them out of your house and out of your body. They love to hide in cookies, crackers and ANYTHING creamy.
4. Don't Label Foods- Just " Retrain The Food Brain"
When your family eats Pragmatic Organic SM, you don't have to label foods good or bad. Children will understand that there are foods that are OK all the time and foods that have to be part of their 20% time. They are not off limits, just limited.
5. Eat Together.
The sad truth in this country is that far too many young children eat most of their meals in a car seat staring at the back of their mother's head. The psychosocial impact of not having this family interaction is devastating. Children learn from reading their parent's faces, from speaking to them directly and from watching how and what their parents eat. Do you really want your child to remember that you ate with one hand on the wheel, one hand on the phone and reached into a paper bag for your family meal at night? PLEASE don't tell me you don't have time. If my family can do it, your family can too. If you make the time, you will have the time. We invest in savings, we buy insurance, we take our children to the dentist and the doctor because it is the right thing to do. Eating together is the right thing to do- just do it.
6. Shop Together.
We give our children allowances to encourage self discipline. We let them make good and bad choices when it comes to money, school and life. Eating is life and is no different. Shop together. Discuss why an item is put in the cart or why it is vetoed. Allow the children their 20%. That means one cookie- not a bag. Allow them to make choices and listen to them when they are telling you what they want. Then find a healthier solution. Don't say NO and leave it there. Tell them no- but offer an alternative product. For example. No pizza rolls, but you can have organic pizza once in a while. No sports drinks but you can have some orange juice and club soda. No candy, but we can make an exception and have a scoop of good ice cream once in a while.
7. Don't reward with food.
Use love, not food or money. It goes a long way. Your kids want you- not a candy bar. Don't over feed children junk out of guilt for not being there. Be there instead. It's a life choice. Watch a movie with them instead of taking them for pizza. Yes, it takes longer. They are your kids, aren't they?
8. Cook with your Kids.
When you plan your meals that you will cook and freeze for the next couple of weeks, get the entire family involved. Take favorite recipes and update them with ingredients that don't contain the big three. Most recipes can easily be adapted to the Pragmatic Organics System. Let everyone pick a dish they want and let them help you make it and portion it out to freeze. Everyone can have samples, you don't have to cook on “cook day”. Two hours is not too much to ask from anyone in the family. Cooking skills, measuring, chopping and estimating are great life skills for everyone. Too many of our kids have no idea at all what is in food or how to make it.
9. Watch what you DRINK!
Most JUICE IS JUNK FOOD, and it's loaded with calories. Eat the whole fruit, organic whenever possible and if you must drink juice, keep the portions small. 4-6 ounces of organic orange or apple juice is enough. Soda has to be limited to extremely small amounts if you allow any at all. Sports drinks are off limits except in rare circumstances. Water is inexpensive, good for you and easily available. Unsweetened ice tea is also fine. The amount of calories most kids drink is staggering.
10. Control Portions.
Enough is Enough. Get a grip on portion sizes. Meat should be no bigger than the size of a deck of cards. For pasta and rice ½ cup is a serving. Load up on the veggies; make them organic if at all possible to avoid cancer causing pesticides.