All things FOOD
I love to eat, and if you've seen me recently you can guess this (middle age is a bitch). But, what I choose to eat has changed over the years and it continues to evolve as I continue to make small lifestyle changes every year. These changes have occurred for a wide variety of reasons: taste, economics, availability, ethics, environment and weight management. One thing that hasn't changed is that I approach food as I approach life, thoughtfully.
Cut out the meat. The biggest change I made is when I cut out meat in 1993. This single change has impacted every part of my life, and while now I don't event notice it, I certainly am reminded every time I go to a party or visit my family. Now, I am no zealot and you will never hear me preach - my basic life philosophy is that I cannot know the right path for everyone. That being said, I am very attached to my choices, so you probably couldn't convince me otherwise, not even if it is easier on everyone. Being vegetarian doesn't necessarily make you healthier and this was certainly true in my younger days. Which brings me to my next real change.
Getting to know fruits and vegetables. There are very few fruits I claim to like, but I can proudly say there are more now than there were. Lifestyle changes are hard and the best ones are incorporated gradually. I have been slowly adding to my list of acceptable produce and I have to say that forcing myself to cut out meat was the change I needed to broaden my horizons.
Ethnic foods. The gradual exposure to a variety of ethnic food traditions is a combination of my ongoing vegetarian lifestyle and my improved economic conditions allowing for restaurant exploration. Restaurants have gotten much better at providing vegetarian options and my "don't ask, don't tell" policy towards sneaky meat by-products like chicken broth also helps. Even with these concessions, American restaurants still provide few great veggie meals. I am constantly amazed by the contempt "real chefs" have towards vegetarian consumers. It makes me crazy. So, we have over the years come to explore ethnic restaurants, where the food choices are more abundant and very tasty. Our favorite right now is The Helmand, in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. Ethnic food exploration often has led me to study more of these cultures and I have learned so much about the world this way. You know, eating at Helmand has really brought the books The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns to life for me.
Food and the environment/economy/social structure. This is my new frontier. I listened to a podcast last spring that really got me thinking. Now, I haven't actually read the book, The Omnivore's Dilemma but I am currently reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and so far it is very, very interesting. Thinking about where our food comes from and what kind of food culture we have created in this modern world is worth doing and worth discussing. Perhaps I will write more about this as I learn more.
So the questions is, where does your food come from?
P.S. Cool pic, huh? This is from the Library of Congress Flickr set. The picture is "Pupils on Mrs. O.H.P. Belmont's farm for girls". From what I can gather in some quick internet research, Mrs. O.H.P. (Alva) Belmont was an active suffragette who created an agriculture school for women looking to escape life in the factories or any women wanting to secure an independent life. The school was created circa 1911 and a 1912 NYTimes article states: Suffragette Farm Untilled; Mrs. Belmont Will Not Teach the Girls Agriculture This Summer. It's a mystery!