Is it a fad you may ask? Are restaurants, supermarkets and food chains cashing in on the awareness that is growing amongst people about our food source? Many are asking, ‘is it good for me?’ Will it keep me well or make me sick? Is it seasonal?
Or, is this a product of an affluent society, and are we actually becoming paranoid about what we are eating? Is this causing more stress?
Do we already know how to shop and cook a nourishing meal, but have lost touch with that? Can we rely on our intuition and our bodies to tell us what we need?
Firstly, I’m clear the main thing is don’t worry about food. Be aware and be informed is my motto. I don’t constantly read about the latest diets, the latest findings about what causes cancer, heart disease, etc. I do know that understanding your own body, eating a balanced diet and what’s in season, combined with regular exercise, will make a real difference to how you feel, your wellbeing and energy daily.
I found in central London there is a food consciousness, but it is the home of the chain everything. Unless you go to a gastro pub or a good restaurant, the offering is generally formula food via a franchise, as I like to call it. Not inspiring and it makes me question the nutritional value.
Cuba is still living in the 50’s and 60’s. Rationing, caused by the socialist nature of the country with the government either owning or driving everything, remains for many people. The food that is available is in season and is grown locally. Whilst we didn’t have any gourmet experiences, we found the food nourishing and satisfying, just like my mother used to cook. There was a real pride in the people and what they could provide in the casas (their homes) in which we stayed. I loved the simplicity of their life. And oh their wonderful music, dance and rhythm.
Starbucks has joined the healthy food, sustainability movement. However finding unadulterated coffee was difficult. It made me hanker for my local coffee shop with long black, flat white and latte. We had to resort to doppio expressos everywhere.
Part of my holiday reading was, GUT by Guilia Enders, a young German microbiologist and medical doctoral student, who quirkily writes about how our gut functions and how it is ‘the brain’s most important adviser’. It’s informative and thought-provoking. A highly recommended read.
This book and my trip has heightened my food awareness. When in the ‘green grocer’ the other day, I noted asparagus and brussel sprouts were available. These are spring and winter vegetables respectively. I didn’t buy them for two reasons – where were they grown and when. Secondly, when vegetables are available all year round, I no longer look forward to them or appreciate them.
What I do appreciate in January is the abundance of stone fruit. I really look forward to the four weeks or so they are in season. Growers and storers don’t seem to be able to easily manipulate stone fruit – cherries, apricots, peaches, plums and, my favourites, nectarines. They don’t last long once you’ve bought them, so my guessing is they haven't been irradiated. They generally demand to be eaten straight away, just as nature intended.
So what I'm saying is, there is a worldwide food movement. We are becoming more interested in our health. Many of us are willing to be conscious about what we are eating. But are we taking on understanding our bodies more? Not everyone is gluten or lactose intolerant. Our bodies may be overloaded. Guilia Enders has some good advice here.
How can we tap into the food movement, if that's what we're about:
- Farmers’ Markets are becoming more common everywhere, in the city and rural areas. We happened upon one in San Francisco. The Bundanoon Community Garden, in the Southern Highlands of NSW, is starting the Railway Street Farmers’ Market in Moss Vale every Thursday afternoon, 3-6pm.
- The New York Times has an excellent weekly wellness email, Well, which includes blogs on a range of wellness topics.
- TED has an outstanding range of talks on food, sustainability and health. Pam Warhurst’s ‘How we can eat out landscapes’, about English communities regenerating their public spaces with edible gardens, is inspiring.
- Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden programme in primary schools, is a national food education programme. Stephanie says, “We get so much feedback from principals, parents and, of course, from the students themselves, about how popular this is and how it’s changing children’s attitudes towards fresh food. If they have developed that understanding and willingness to expand their horizons as far as food goes, and understand what goes on in the garden and how that food has got on their plate, those insights and understandings will be there for life.” I’ve experienced this first hand in the Seaforth Public School Kitchen Garden.
We’re about to upsize in country New South Wales to live a more sustainable life, growing more of our own vegetables, developing our herd of grass fed cows and enjoying more of what nature has to offer. We’ve become part of the worldwide movement of seasonal eating, buying local and promoting ‘Good Food’.
HAPPY NEW YEAR and HAPPY COOKING and HEALTHY EATING!