Three Reasons Why Military Spouses Need Small Batch Specialty Foods
I don’t know about you, but one of the first things I do when we get orders to a new duty station is hop online to see what will be available in my new area. Excitement and disappointment go hand in hand. For example, at our current location there’s a dream school for our daughter, but oh my goodness it’s expensive. And, for the first time in fourteen years we live in an area where we can have a CSA box of produce delivered to our front door, but it’s so pricey we schedule one only when we can get a discount or it’s a special occasion. I’m sure you’ve experienced your own pre-PCS highs and lows.
When it comes to healthy food choices, there’s often a gap between what we want and what we can get. Small batch specialty foods just might be what we need to bridge that gap. Small batch producers make food items that include premium ingredients, but leave out all of the junk like preservatives and other unnatural ingredients.
I’m going to let you in on a resource that makes finding small batch producers easy, but first here are three reasons why military spouses in particular need small batch specialty foods:
- Many of us live in food deserts. According to the American Nutrition Association, food deserts are often low income areas of the country where fresh produce and other healthy whole foods are not readily available, mostly due to lack of grocery stores, farmers’markets, and other healthy food providers. All of America’s top 10 military boom towns were either in or close to a food desert. Curious about where you fall? Check out this interactive map.
- Healthy packaged choices at the commissary are limited. So yes, the commissary is a huge benefit, not only saving us money on groceries, but also providing a grocery store in places where it might be quite a haul to even get to a grocery store at all. I’m looking at you Fort Irwin, California. Over the years the commissary has gotten better at growing their natural foods section with things like coconut sugar, specialty flours, seeds and nuts, and organic products. But try to find an abundant variety of organic produce, or sugar/gunk-free packaged items like cereal, spaghetti sauce, or snacks and it’s a rough go. I’m not an expert on the decision-making behind commissary store layout and product selection, but it doesn’t take an economist to know that they’re going to try their darnedest to provide what people want to buy. The sad fact of the matter is that most people still want to buy soda, sugar cereal, treats, and salty snacks so that’s what takes up a huge portion of the store’s footprint.
- We have a lot of demands on our time. I think we’re in a shoulder-season of military spouse culture. Historically, military life has been built around a traditional model of one breadwinner and a spouse who manages the household and military-related volunteer activities while they are away for a long day or gone on deployment. If you’ve ever been to a volunteer recognition ceremony, you’ve probably heard that military installations run on volunteers. But things are changing. There are more female service members, but it’s still likely that they’re making the food decisions for the family. More female spouses are choosing to pursue work outside of the home, but they still have family responsibilities and they’re still being asked to support the volunteer culture. Even though many are willing to adjust budgets to make healthy choices, not everyone has the time, interest, or skills to live up to the Pinterest ideal and make healthy food items from scratch.
Enter the small batch movement. Undiscovered Kitchen is a digital farmers’ market for small batch, artisan food from makers around the country. It gives people access to unique, local foods on a national scale. When you buy from Undiscovered Kitchen you're buying directly from and supporting the small batch makers themselves. If you want to buy raw, vegan coconut jerky, you can find it there in several flavors. If you want to buy protein pancake mix, you can find it there. Need some snacks, but you don’t want any sugar? You can filter by that or by many other dietary requirements.
Undiscovered Kitchen is hosting an awesome giveaway right now which is right up our alley. They are giving away $500 in fitness gear from ActivewearUSA and $150 in fitness foods made by artisans. Be sure to check out the giveaway. We would love for one of our community members to win the prize! And, if the commissary isn’t carrying something you want, let them know so that they can take note of the things we’d like to have.
Do you live in a food desert? How do you cope?