ColumnDo we really have to care about real food all the time?
Let’s be 100 percent honest with each other: sometimes eating well is a pain. It’s time consuming. It’s exhausting. So many choices to make, so many things to pay attention to and sometimes you just want to buy a damn pineapple even though you know it crossed half the world to get to you.
In these moments it’s so easy to ask oneself, “does it really matter what I eat?”
Deep down, you know the short answer to that question. Between a diet of fast food and a diet of brown rice and greens, you know which one to choose. But those are two extremes. In between is the everyday routine where real life often gets in the way of aspirational eating. Sure, you want to bake your own bread, your own yogurt and your own granola bars, but sometimes you just want to stuff your face with a butter, gluten-loaded brownie, now don’t you?
First things first: eating real food is about eating, not about eliminating. So often we focus on what we can’t or shouldn’t eat, that we forget to embrace all that we can eat. A sustainable approach to food is about appreciating food. That’s the only way that you make healthy eating a part of an everyday lifestyle.
Does it really matter what you eat? Yes, but that doesn’t mean that you need to calorie-count and drive yourself crazy with it. It just means focusing on real food, and cutting out all the junk little by little. An imported banana every once in awhile isn’t going to kill you. Packaged foods however, will.
Besides maybe providing shelter for ourselves, eating is the most important thing we do in a day. Of course it matters what we eat.
The problem with food is that we so often take an all or nothing approach. But eating isn’t about all or nothing. It’s about balance. It’s about enjoying food. It’s about founding a happy medium where you make time to cook and eat, and don’t feel like it’s taking over your life. It’s about savoring those cherry tomatoes at the end of summer, and saying no to the red produce in the middle of January, when it will bland and mealy. It’s about gathering around a table and enjoying a meal with friends.
In order to eat well, we have to prioritize. Yes, it may take longer to prepare your own food, but think about what you would be spending that time on otherwise. The average American watches 5 hours of television a day. Think if just one of those hours went to hanging out in the kitchen or around a table.
It does matter what you eat, and committing to a lifestyle where you eat well isn’t just about your personal health. It’s about the people around you; when we eat better, so do our friends, so just like you should surround yourself with good food, you should surround yourself with people that believe in good food top. It’s also about your community, about supporting the producers in your local area that are working hard to bring food to your table. It’s also about the environment; our modern day agricultural system has serious impacts around the world.
Eating real food should be empowering, not overwhelming. You have the chance to make positive change every time you grocery shop and every time you eat. Doesn’t that feel like a choice that you want to make?
Go out and eat well my friends, it’s very much worth it.
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This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’ weekly column at EcoSalon: Foodie Underground, an exploration of what’s new and different in the underground movement, and how we make the topic of good food more accessible to everyone. More musings on the topic can be found at www.foodieunderground.com.
Image: Nick Harris