Until recently, I never put much thought into the food I ate. I ate whatever tasted good, seemed semi-healthy, and offered a good deal, price-wise, at the grocery store. I looked for notices on boxes such as “Heart Healthy” or “Fat Free” and stuck to brands I had been loyal to since childhood. Overall, to me, my thought process seemed quite logical at the time. Food was simple.
My interest in food emerged when I began cooking for myself in college. I began to pay closer attention to the ingredients I chose for each meal. As an urban planning major and global sustainability minor, I also quickly learned the role food plays in communities and societies. The terms “local food” and “organic” became increasingly important to me. I even joined my University’s community garden organization to help grow a variety of vegetables (some of which I got to enjoy myself). It was clear that I had become immersed in a food culture that promoted healthy, local eating practices. My concept of food had completely changed; I realized food may be one of the most important topics to be knowledgeable about. Food was no longer simple. It was complex.
Although I am not here to write a book review, I will say that reading “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, truly brought everything full circle. I highly recommend reading this book. If you know eating local is better and don’t know why, read this book; if you know organic food is more expensive and don’t know why, read this book. Although I could go on and on about what I have learned, I am also not here to write an essay. To highlight some of the points that really stuck with me, I have listed questions you can ask yourself below:
• Are we really eating food anymore? Do you even know what half of the ingredients in your food are? Can you even pronounce half the ingredients?
• Can you identify where your food was grown?
• If local foods are healthier and support your local economy wouldn’t you want to buy them? Even if local foods are more expensive, shouldn’t food be the one thing you splurge on, since it drastically affects your health?
• Do you enjoy eating your meals or do you eat just to eat? Is food infused into our culture of living?
• Do you utilize farmers markets, local food stands, gardens, and natural markets? (Take advantage of them!!)
Farmers Markets and Pick-Your-Own farms are going strong this Fall. Check out these links to get started — http://www.howardcountyfarmersmarkets.com/