Some of us work with food, keeping it and the processes that must occur for it to be placed on a dish to eat in the forefront of our minds. For others, food is an afterthought, something that gets done on the go; usually while rushing around from from one engagement to another barely wasting a seconds thought on how your food got to be where it is as you place it within your mouth.
With so many trends constantly changing people are throwing words like biodynamic or organic around almost carelessly. It's possible then to gain a false sense of security that if a product is labeled with a word you associate with healthy it must be good. But what does all of this actually mean when you get behind the scenes and really look at the food behind the words.
I have a proposition for you to try. Begin using the food you eat as a medium to become a more active participant in your own life. Rather than listening to the the latest craze of the newest "antioxidant superfood" you must realize that the food industry just like many others has marketing and public relations people who have a job to do. Have you ever noticed that there seems to be an endless treadmill of foods that are one week bad, the next week good and the following week forgotten?
Think of one of my best friends: butter. Luckily I grew up in a household where butter was never banned for health reasons (thanks to Italian parents who used both olive oil and butter liberally while cooking). But I saw the fear in many of my friends houses. After sleepovers, I would wakeup in the morning to a delicious breakfast of homemade pancakes or if I was especially lucky Eggos waffles. Delighted by my good fortune, I would inevitably ask for butter only to be greeted with the ever present ominous greyish looking tub of margarine spread, Country Crocker was the usual suspect. When i asked for the alternative I was usually greeted with smug looks of “oh what a dear, she still eats butter.” The memories linger to this day.
Meekly I would choose to skip the spread that revolted me and would instead get my sugar high by drowning the cardboard gifts from the gods with enticingly curvy Mrs Butterworth. I would sigh in relief when I returned home and could eat as much butter as I pleased on various dishes (plain buttered noodles was a standby) at home.
Stop listening. That's it. It's so simple, just begin listening to what your taste buds and body are telling and showing you.
So what's a girl to do in a world that's always trying to convince her one way or another what she should be putting into her body?
Stop listening. That's it. It's so simple, just begin listening to what your taste buds and body are telling and showing you. Begin tuning out the media that just hopes to entice you to spend your money one way or another. Using food as a medium, you can not only show your body how much you love it and are thankful for it, but you can also create a closer connection between you and the world that sustains you.
The level of your involvement is up to you. You could go as far as getting a calendar of the seasons which displays the fruits, vegetables and animals that come into season throughout the year cyclically. Or you can just begin to start consciously shopping, whether at the farmers market or at the grocery store. There's an invaluable tip that I've learned from working in restaurants and visiting markets with chefs I worked with: prices are most expensive at the beginning of the season and also when the item is no longer in season. As something is in it's peak it will become inexpensive and plentiful. Even better, it'll taste more flavorful as well!
Luckily for all of us, farmers markets are sprouting up around the country. For those of us who live in Northern California we are spoiled, but I know they exist across the country. You might just have to look a bit harder for them. However, this also works in the regular grocery store as well. It does require a bit of discipline in the beginning to learn to say no to the six dollar artichoke you might be craving in the middle of summer, but when you commit to this more thoughtful and independent habit, both your bank account and body will thank you.
There's an awesome book that I was introduced to while in massage school called Eating Healthy with the Seasons. It's been my go to guide throughout the years as seasons begin to change and I'm ready to begin to prepare my mind to look for the new produce and lifestyle habits I might want to begin to remind myself of. It even has awesome cleanse recipes and practices that are fun to incorporate in your day to day life (that is if something like a cleanse sounds "fun" to you).
Whatever your decisions the first step is regaining control of your diet and taking that huge stride away from the roller coaster of trend eating and instead moving towards a more present approach of observing the fuel you feed your body. Because food is such a fashionable topic, it can be easy to lose yourself in the hype and quickly lose sight of the fact that what you are doing daily actually comes quite naturally to our entire species. It merely means unlearning the stress and pressure of what you eat and just beginning to trust your instincts.
I mean really, our ancestors were feeding themselves for thousands of years by eating whatever they could find with what was in season then and somehow they managed to produce your ancestors which eventually led to you. We now have more resources and information easily accessible than ever and I have a hunch that we can all do it too.