Making a conscious effort to connect better with where my food comes from is a lifestyle choice that can have an impact on me, my family and even the planet. At the start of this year, I decided that I wanted to take on this challenge both personally and professionally. Initially, this seemed to be quite an overwhelming concept. But, I realized that change does not happen overnight. I needed to start small and identify what I really wanted to accomplish.
Words that chef and farm to fork advocate Alice Waters wrote in her book, The Art of Simple Food, resonated and helped me hone in on my vision of being more aware of my food selections. I was honored to see how Alice put her words into action. We recently dined together at her restaurant, Chez Panisse, which is known for its locally grown and harvested foods.
Let me share with you a few of her key points. Maybe they will inspire you too.
• Remember food is precious. Good food calls for good ingredients. We are fortunate to have a more than adequate supply of in this country so no one needs to go hungry, yet there still are.
• Eat locally. Though there is not a set definition of “local”, choosing foods grown within your region can have benefits you may not have even thought of. Foods tend to be fresher and it can give you the opportunity to connect/get to know the farmers.
• Eat seasonally. As you are able, aim to purchase foods, particularly produce, when they are in season in your region. It challenges one to vary up the menu so the same foods are not continuously served. Variety is the spice of life. Yearning for fresh salsa or peaches in the winter? Try canning or even drying fruits and herbs so they can be enjoyed during the colder months.
• Plant a garden. Growing your own food can be quite rewarding. Do not fret if you are limited on space. You do not need to plant acres of food. Remember to start small. Try a windowsill herb garden or even a pot or two of tomatoes and peppers. It is gratifying to see the fruits of your labor grow and can help you be more aware of where your food comes from. Be sure to check local guidelines for any restrictions.
• Conserve, compost and recycle. Remember to bring reusable bags to the market with you to haul your groceries instead of taking the plastic bags. As you are able, reuse packaging from food products. For example, my mother would save and store butter wrappers in the fridge so she could grease her pans. If you have the space, try keeping a small compost container on your counter or in your garden for kitchen scraps. You may be able to use the compost to feed the garden you planted to keep the cycle of life going. Check to see if there are restrictions in your local area.
Being conscious to make small choices as we go through our daily lives can make a huge impact not only to our bodies, but also the environment. These points are just the tip of the iceberg.
I would love to hear your thoughts about how you are being more conscious about your food choices. Please share.