I suppose that’s a bit of an ambitious title, but I figure, why not start out 2013 by tackling big issues. This past year has been an amazing journey for me in learning about our food system with its dark side of huge corporations selling unhealthy food for obscene profits, and its bright future with the burgeoning movement of local farmers who are producing sustainably grown food. The complex and often hidden issues surrounding our food system are sometimes overwhelming to understand and navigate. But it affects all of us in so many ways, from our health to our communities to our environment, that I’d like to start a discussion on how to begin to change this current dysfunctional system. If each one of us took steps to rediscover our knowledge of real food, we could start the change from being at the mercy of a handful of corporations dictating our food choices to being able to choose from a whole palette of sustainably grown food.
So without further ado, I’d like to suggest the first step in this journey is to simply savor our food. I mean really enjoy it. Slow down and taste what we’re eating. We’ve become so used to eating prepared and processed food that somewhere along the line, we’ve stopped paying attention to the fact that the most prominent flavors in these types of food are salty and sweet and not necessarily the flavors from the food itself. And unbeknownst to us, many of the other flavors are actually chemically produced and not from real food at all.
But there are times, usually in the summer, when we have a chance to find produce right from the farm or a tree in our neighborhood, and then we marvel at the flavor that bursts out on our tongues. Our bodies inherently love these fresh simple foods and naturally we want to eat more. So in the winter, we remember that wonderful flavor and buy a tomato imported from Mexico to satisfy the craving. Well, that tomato may look like a tomato, but oh, with no juice and no flavor it shouldn’t even claim to be a tomato. And the weird thing is, we often ignore our disappointment and buy it again.
So I would suggest as a first step, let’s slow down when we eat and really taste the food we put into our mouths. Listen to what our taste buds tell us. Our bodies are much wiser than our brains sometimes. Discover what produce is in season and experiment with it. It’s easy to forget that winter offers us its own bounty of root vegetables, leeks and onions, potatoes, greens, mushrooms, carrots, squash, in fact so much that we don’t need to rely on produce shipped from thousands of miles away.
Try making a meal or two or more without serving any processed food. Introduce more in-season vegetables to your palate and plate. Share a meal with family and friends. See what the Slow Food movement is about and find a chapter in your area. Find what you enjoy most and savor it. I’d love to hear what you discover!