So my new hobby/obsession has been… food. But not just eating food, which has always been a hobby for me. Now, I’m more interested in where my food comes from; how it was grown, raised, or created; and what’s in it now. I’m reading Food Inc. right now, which is AMAZING, and I think everyone should either read the book or see the movie. It’s amazing how much Americans don’t know about the food industry, and how much the food industry is taking advantage of that ignorance. The complete lack of regulation and the crazy stuff that we therefore ingest is just mind-blowing. Adjusting the type and amount of food we eat can make a huge impact on our health, our budget, and our environment.
I’ve been making a few changes, and it’s actually been both fun and easy, which is the opposite of what I expected when I started thinking about the entire complicated mess that is the American food industry. But it’s really not that hard, and it’s been exciting to learn about new food and come up with recipes that fit the new lifestyle I’m going for.
First and foremost, we’ve cut back on our meat consumption. We eat some entirely vegetarian meals a couple times a week, and the rest of the time, we just eat less meat per meal. Instead of one chicken breast each, we split one, and eat larger portions of vegetables and rice. We try to balance our plates like this. And to make up for the protein, I’ve added a lot of nuts (especially peanut butter) and beans (especially chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans) to my diet.
I’ve also been eating a lot less processed foods and fast foods. I’ve added in a lot more fresh, organic food. I began with organic meat, dairy, and eggs, because the hormones and antibiotics in animal products really freak me out. Now I’m starting to work on organic vegetables and fruits, and I found this great cheat sheet of which are the worst offenders. The “Dirty Dozen” have the most pesticide, and I try to buy organic. The others, I don’t worry about as much.
So this is what I’ve been working on for the past few months. Why do you care? Because to encourage my exploration of new foods, particularly natural, organic produce, I decided to commit to a little project this year. I have this great calendar on my fridge of every major crop grown in North Carolina and when they are in season. For each crop, I’m going to create at least two dishes: one savory and one sweet. So you’ll get a meal and a dessert using ingredients that you could pick up fresh at your local farmers’ market.
Here’s a challenge. First on the list is the crop in season right now… leafy greens. A dessert made of leafy greens. I’ve got my work cut out for me. To get in the spirit while I try to think of what the heck I’m going to make, I planted some lettuce and rosemary this past weekend. They’re in pots on my apartment’s balcony. I’ll let you know how they work out. Right now I’m just trying to remember to water them.