Top five habits: The all-in foodie

Respect the food!

There is a popular modern slogan that was in part birthed by the slow food crowd. “Farm to Table.” It comes close in describing how we should view food and nutrition. For such an important part of our lives and health, we “farm out” much of the process and products to strangers.

We should be advocates for knowing where our food comes from. If not our own gardens (even herb gardens on the kitchen window sill), then community gardens, farmer’s markets, or community supported agriculture (CSA) ventures. You say that those things don’t exist close to you? And yet we’ll drive thirty miles to the mall for a special purchase or as entertainment. The reason they don’t exist in great numbers is because we haven’t asked for them.

I’m all for small and slow solutions, and since these types of services take time to implement, let’s start asking for them now. It may even be a business opportunity for you; learning the skills now that will allow you to buy land and tools and begin building a clientele.

Something else that we have lost, or are in the process of losing, is the meal time rituals that have been a part of our cultures since time immemorial. The act of planning a meal, getting the ingredients, preparing them, cooking, sharing the food around a table with family and friends is something to be celebrated, not despised. I’m sure that some of your fondest memories are of dinner table conversations. I know some of mine are.

The same people who say that they don’t have time to cook are the same people who sit for an hour with a buzzer in their hand, waiting for a restaurant table. We’re like that when we’re on auto-pilot. One needent slow cook a pot roast for every meal. There are many simple meals with whole food ingredients that can be prepared and served in half an hour completely from scratch. I urge you to give it a try. In doing so, you could also be teaching yourself and even your children and friends a valuable life skill. There are many teens who don’t know a single simple recipe beyond boiling ramen and microwaving pre-packaged faux-food.

Getting into the dinner routine is a simple act of the will, where it isn’t one person’s responsibility to set the table, prepare food, cook, and do dishes. When everyone pitches in and spends time together throughout the process, everything gets done quickly. This is an opportunity for everyone to interact, laugh and talk.

Later, we’ll get into ways that you can get involved locally to promote a more regional food economy, but for now, consider the above. At the least, at every meal, do your best to recreate the food ritual. Meals aren’t only for nutrition, they’re a social act and we should do our part to keep that alive. Don’t eat alone if you can help it, always try to have a healthy meal with friends and conversation.

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The possessive case

stuffToday, I’m beginning to list, in a very transparent way, everything that I own. I’m doing it in an effort to pare down and focus on people and experiences instead of things. I’m going to be getting rid of the things that either aren’t useful to me or don’t otherwise bring me joy.

The process is going to take me awhile, but remember that it is the journey (!) and not so much the destination that matters. I’m being transparent about this to help others out – others who might be considering doing the same thing, other than posting it all for anyone to see.

I’ll be working in my office today, and will go on to other rooms of the house, and God forbid the garage, as time permits. You can watch the list grow by clicking on the “My Stuff” menu tab at the top of my blog. It only has a few things populated into it right now, but come back whenever you want to see it grow, and then get smaller. I’m curious to know exactly how many things I own.

Solace 

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

― Anne Frank

The Adventure Hiking Trail

Another item on my bucket list has been to hike the Adventure Hiking Trail in Corydon, Indiana. Of course, one of the reasons I want to do this is to prep myself for the fated thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. It served that purpose in spades. And trekking poles. Last weekend, I finished the first twenty-miler (plus) since I was a teenager. I was wiped for a couple of days. This weekend’s outing was sort of a last minute affair, since I wasn’t sure if I wanted to exert myself in back-to-back weekenders.

What am I talking about? Of course I did!

In addition to the benefits I get from hiking – breathing forest air and phytoncides, getting a workout, meeting all sorts of people who are mostly in a good mood, it also serves as penance! Woe to me if I pass up an opportunity for voluntary discomfort.

I will say this about the AHT. Depending on where you begin, it can be subtly deceptive. Many flat sections combined with gently rolling slopes lull you into a nice pedestrian (think level paved sidewalks) pace. Then come the rocks. Or maybe I should have said then come the sections of trail that are nothing but rocks. Big chunks, little chunks. Sharp chunks, round chunks. Uphill and downhill rock-chunk paths. Very good training for the AT.

This has been, thus far, my most favorite trail. Partly because there are shelters distributed along the Ohio River section of it, but also because of the scenery and that it is very clearly marked and easy to follow. Some online reviews from the usual trail websites state that it isn’t well marked. They are.

I’ve posted a YouTube video of scenery from along the trail for those who can’t get out to hike it themselves. It is only recommended that those in great physical shape attempt to thru-hike the AHT. And for good reason. It was a difficult, rewarding hike. Enjoy the vid.

Plastic

We have to put up with a throwaway culture, and we are sunk deep in it. I’ve know for awhile that there is a huge ball of floating plastic in the Pacific ocean, but I see this garbage everywhere. I bet you do, too.

What can we do? I want to make a concerted effort to cut down on the amount of disposable everything that I use. The items I do use, I want to start R4’ing (reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose). Maybe the biggest impact might be to get vocal with the packaging and product makers of our disposable deluge. Maybe jurisdictions could pass ordinances that fine companies whose products end up as litter. It isn’t the end user’s fault that there are WalMart and CVS bags stuck in my fence, it’s WalMart and CVS that chose to offer those bags.

Taco Tuesday

imageWhen I got home from work tonight, the family had already had dinner, and I was grateful to find a nice slicing tomato and a perfectly ripe avocado on the counter, and some hearts of romaine in the fridge along with the usual accoutrements. So I made a taco salad, healthy style. I added some fresh sautéed portobello mushrooms, half of the avocado, the whole tomato, 2 ounces of taco meat, a squirt of Ranch dressing, and a sprinke of Mexican cheese. I paired this with sodium free blue corn chips and chowed down. What do you think…healthy? Not so much? What would you have added or left out? Let me know and I’ll try your suggestions. Tuesday night is taco night in our house, and I’m a salad kind of guy.