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Resolution: Eat Better

December 27, 2012

How many of us, when recognizing some weight loss is needed, start the new year with the resolution to go on a diet? Been there. That is not what this post is about, though.

The desire to eat better comes in many forms. Perhaps one will strike a chord for you:


We take a lot of time to know our hairdresser, but the concept of knowing your farmer is one that should be considered even more. The stuff you put into your body has a bigger effect on your life than what anti-frizz product should be used.  If you walk into your supermarket and ask the Produce Manager who raised the tomatoes he MIGHT be able to tell you the country of origin. The food at the grocery store comes through a distribution chain where the original farmer is only a tiny (and underpaid) part of the process. There is no information available about herbicide or pesticide use. There is no information available about the type of tomato being presented. You can’t even find out when it was picked.  But we eat it.  Same with the beef, chicken, pork and fish that we purchase from the supermarket. Most have been raised in an environment where antibiotics, steroids and hormones are a normal part of their diet, the better to grow faster to leave the farm and be processed. Ask the meat department manager which is ASH-free and he most likely will not know what that means.


The poet William Cowper wrote Variety’s the very spice of life,  That gives it all its flavour. So, to get out of your rut and add some interest at your table, try new foods. When agriculture became an industry in the 20th Century, crops were selected that were pretty consistent in production. In other words, the farmers learned quickly that a round red tomato would sell if it was pretty and that people didn’t care so much about flavor. So most of us have grown up with tomatoes like Big Boy. We understand the difference when we taste a tomato fresh out of the garden. Few of us have enjoyed the explosion of flavor in our mouth that heirloom varieties provide. These are breeds that have grown for centuries but are not economical to produce on a large scale at a factory farm. They may look lumpy or bumpy or they may ripen slower. Try them. Grab them up whenever you see them. Enjoy them. Also try new things you’ve never tasted. Search the internet for a recipe and go at it!


Cooking is NOT rocket science. While careful measurements will provide for better baked results, general cooking forgives exact measurements, In fact, when Chef Tim Urbanik submitted a recipe for the Taming the Wild Ramp: Reachable Recipes For Real Food cookbook, the original version called for a “handful” of this and a “smidgen” of that. I asked for measurements and was scolded (lovingly, but still scolded) that cooking is an art and needs room for individual taste and creativity. So, relax, if you are new to the kitchen, you can do it! What cooking from scratch will do it not only give you a sense of accomplishment, but it will move your meal away from processed foods and the preservatives and other chemicals that are in them. If you say you don’t have time to cook during the week, then plan to cook on your day off. There are ways to cook once on a day when you have an hour that can provide meals for several days without eating “leftovers.” (Ah, there’s a topic for another blog sometime. ) Just do it. Once you have begun to taste food that you prepare from scratch you will understand why it’s worth it. It tastes better!


This is not the first time you have ever read that having a diet of fast food is not good for you, but it is amazing how many people eat it every day. A couple of years ago I was volunteering at the Huntington Museum of Art’s book sale  On Bag Day, when you can buy a shopping sack full of books for only $5, I was positioned as cashier outside the room where there were a kazillion cookbooks. It was amazing how many people came out without any book at all. Chatting with them, asking if they cook, they said no, they eat at McDonald’s every day. Really! They seemed not to care that it is unhealthy, only that it was easy and cheap. Why? People, love yourself. Love your kids. Make the visit to the fast food restaurant a once a month “treat”. Take steps to be the one to help your kids grow up healthy.


One reason resolutions typically  fail after a short while is that there is an effort to make a huge change quickly. It is hard to do it that way and yet some people can because their focus on the end goal is enough to carry them through those “ugh, I don’t want to” moments. I can;t get to my goal looking only at the end goal, but it helps me to set a lot of intermediate goals. Maybe you, too. Take it one step at a time. First, look at the items you currently have in your freezer. How many are in boxes? Pull one out and read the ingredients label. Out loud. If there are words there that difficult to pronounce, they are most likely chemicals that were put in there during processing to keep the food edible longer. While the assumption is that they are safe, there is better “safety” without them. Look at the item. Most likely you can make that from scratch whether it is pizza or Pad Thai. Get out a cookbook or use your favorite internet search engine and find a recipe, shop for the ingredients and Just Do It!  After that step, as you transition to home cooked meals, then start considering the source of your raw ingredients.


Shopping a local farmers’ market will provide freshly picked healthy food to your table. Here in the tri-state area we are lucky to have the Wild Ramp which is a year-round indoor market. Not only fresh vegetables and fruits are offered, but meats, eggs, milk, cheese, and other products like honey, pasta, chocolate, coffee, tea, and more more more. By shopping your local market you can know your farmers, know their practices to understand their use of any chemicals, know when the food was picked or processed, and then enjoy it all in its full flavor. The number one response to the question “why do you shop at the Wild Ramp?” is “To support local businesses” and the number two response is “Because the food I buy here tastes better!” Find out.

The Wild Ramp is open Tuesday-Friday 10-6 and Saturday 10-4. Closed New Years Day.

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