Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A New Year's Resolution: Take Time for Food

Happy New Year, CLE readers!

A friend recently remarked that I spend a lot of time thinking about food. I only feed myself and my boyfriend on any given day but I spend a lot of energy planning, getting and cooking meals. Why should I bother when I could get pre-made food at the grocery store or pick up fast food on my way home from work?  The answer is this: that’s not good food.

Think about our ancestors. They spent most of their time hunting, gathering and, if they were any good at those two things, eating. Most of their energy was put into procuring more calories. Any hunter will tell you it takes a lot of time and patience to get your food directly from nature. Cavemen had to walk miles and spend days just looking for food. Not to sound too philosophical but, besides breathing, eating is pretty much all we have to do in life.

So why should we be any different? Clearly there are other things that a modern human has to do in order to survive but is what we eat any less important now than it was millions of years ago? I argue it isn’t. The quality of food that we consume is just as significant today as it was back then. In fact, in many ways it is more important that we carefully consider what we eat these days because there are so many easy options that aren’t necessarily good.

In a recent documentary I saw about obesity, an expert estimated that the average human makes over 200 food-related decisions a day, twenty or so before we even sit down in front of a bowl of cereal in the morning. Another argued that we love fast food and prepared foods because they take the guess work out of eating because they tell us both what and how much to eat.

Admittedly, eating local takes a lot more time than swinging by McDonalds. The market isn’t open 6am to midnight like most grocery stores so you have to plan ahead what you want to make for the week. You’re also not guaranteed to get what you need or want at a farmers market but that’s the fun part about smaller markets. You didn’t have fresh carrots on your shopping list but when you see the tasty morsels at the market, all of a sudden you are planning to make carrot top soup instead of butternut squash.

So this year, I challenge everyone to take more time for food – carefully consider what you eat and where it comes from. I bet you’ll find that you enjoy your food more and feel better when you slow down and eat!

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