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Choice vs. Challenge – For the Love of Food

June 24th, 2013 / cat / 4 comments

Choice vs. Challenge – For the Love of Food

“What’s for dinner?” That famous nightly challenge we all face, often when our cupboards are loaded to capacity.   As I continue to share my personal journey with you about experiencing joy and taste in both the purchasing and the preparation of real food, I hope to make your dinner choices easier…and healthier!

How does something as deserved as choosing and enjoying our dinner become so hard? There are a few reasons: some revolve around our habits; and others from the food supply we support.  We can take charge and make dinner a delight by identifying the problems lurking in our pantries. So what are the issues?

We buy too much food!

Often I find pantries packed—I mean ultra-packed with boxes, bags, and bins of food, most of which has been there for some time and some of which is past its best before date. Most fridges are filled with cheap basics, rather than bounty for the body. We often purchase packaged food with emotion rather than thoughtful choice for flavor and enjoyment. There is no love to be found in a pantry packed with processed food!

We respond to marketing, rather than our bodies’ nourishment needs.

We fill our carts with food choices that are not always in our best interests because certain staples are ingrained in our habits thanks to decades of smart marketing. Those buy-one-get-one-free offers, and the cans that will last years, or that cardboard ready meal in flashy packaging are all too appealing because they are designed to be so. The word “Sale!” over season can truly be a detriment to your enjoyment of food.

Fresh varieties of produce are limited in mainstream food stores.

The grocer’s aisle is filled with myriad kinds of chips, yet the produce section offers only two kinds of tomatoes. Did you know there are over one thousand varieties of tomatoes? When we purchase the same kind of tomato, or apple, or potato, we are agreeing to monoculture–a reliance on one kind of crop–which is bad for our bodies, our society, and for the land.

So, in truth, it turns out that the question, “What’s for dinner?” is a loaded one! Shouldn’t your food be satisfying? When you open your fridge or pantry, should your food not pop out at you and inspire you to chop it or cook it…and to savor it?

This problem has a few easy fixes. A quick mindset adjustment and a commitment to fresh food and you will be excited to get to your fridge after a hard day at work. Here is how:

Less is more!
When at the store opt for a few choice items, rather than a ton of food you’ll end up throwing out. Shop for perishable items every few days, and buy only what you plan to eat in that short time. Choose quality over quantity – choose food that serves your soul.

Avoid packaged food.

I steer clear of advising others what to eat. Rather I often suggest what not to purchase:

  • Anything in a box, bag, or bin
  • Non-seasonal food
  • Any item that says, “Buy me because I am easy and cheap!”

Communicate with your wallet.
Your dollar dictates what the grocery sells and the farmer grows. Your vote that counts! Your choices about purchasing food—not only what, but from whom and where—have a HUGE impact not only on your health, and your enjoyment, but also the planet we live off! If you want a variety of produce, request it from your regular store; or shop where you can get it…

…Which often means co-ops, farmers’ markets, or growing your own food.

The largest part of my food budget goes to the veggie co-op, where I obtain seasonal, organic, local produce (and that provides farmers with a proper wage, by the way). We all make some food choices that are emotional but the bulk of our bounties need to nourish us. I am no saint; as I type I hear my Newman’s Own fig bars and free trade chocolate calling me.

Opt for 3-5 fresh herbs and high quality jarred spices.
No need for the 25 types of supermarket aisle spices you buy once and never use again. Experiment! Use recipes and blogs for inspiration. Remember recipes just provide information, and they are not written in stone; recipes are directions for you to run with, ideas for you to change and make your own.

Keep your ingredients simple.

I typically choose no more than 6 ingredients per dish. I see what is available from my lovingly chosen food and see what I can come up with. Use your creativity and run with it — you learn so much when you experience your own expression in the kitchen!

So next time you are deciding what’s for dinner, choose local and choose fresh; and choose to have less, and enjoy more! And when you see that BOGO offer enticing you, remember the love of food comes from how good it tastes over how long it lasts, or what a bargain it was. When your fridge reveals to you just a few choice and real items, it really is easy to make your meals simple, savory and soulful.

How about you?  What are some of the choices you have made to make your evening meal decisions that bit easier…and inspiring?

Have a delicious day!

Your foodie friend,
Susan Huff


4 Responses to “Choice vs. Challenge – For the Love of Food”

  1. maxine says:

    so true! In so many ways! What a great read… But feeling pretty proud as I sit down with my berries and yogurt for dinner :-)

  2. Karen says:

    Susan, I love the photo and am inspired by your suggestions.
    Wine, cheese, bread and thou? Perhaps just add a wonderful garden fresh salad and its the perfect summer dining menu. Keep that creativity flowing. Many thanks.

  3. liz says:

    EXcellent article and very true although I have to be reminded from time to time!

  4. [...] choose. This is where your personal likes and what is available from your local co-op come in. Choose well, with love for [...]

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