Why do we not question what’s really in our food and where our food comes from?
Why do we believe in quantity over quality?
Moving from a major city to a small town has opened my eyes to how the food industry is run. In the Midwest I am able to see slaughter trucks run their regular route, from cattle and chicken farms, through corn fields upon corn fields.
Before leaving DC I began to question the food I was eating, where I was buying my food, and paying attention to how my body reacted to the things I would eat. I started going to farmer's markets to buy local and seasonal ingredients. I started reading articles about the benefits of buying local and in season, not purchasing everything from the grocery store. I experimented with eating less meat and having meals with only vegetables and fish. I could feel a significant improvement in the way my body felt: I felt less heavy, my digestion felt less uncomfortable, and my energy levels improved. Noticing these changes within my body from the ingredients I ingested started my food journey.
I know what you may be thinking:
So she completely eliminated things from her diet?
Do I really have to give up meat?
What’s the point of being vegetarian?
Will I be hungrier if I only eat vegetables?
These were ALL questions that floated around in my head as I adjusted my food regimen and changed the food systems I was a part of. But I am not telling you to go on a diet, to stop eating meat, or that you have to be vegetarian. However, I am encouraging you to question more of what is in the food you you put into your body/fuel your body with.
I am asking you to look at the ingredients on the back of food labels to see how many you recognize. To try only going on the perimeter of the store, avoiding the middle aisles. If you don’t know what your food is made of, you should decide if you really want to put those products into your body.
I am asking you to question where the food comes from in your grocery stores. There is a reason we believe that strawberries and other fruits are year round when they’re really only in season during 1-2 months out of the year. If you couldn’t be growing strawberries in your backyard in the middle of December, you should ask yourself how they got into the grocery store and why they cost $8.00.
I am asking you to pay attention to the type of meat and fish that you ingest. Try to buy organic and certified humane meat and eggs. In this case, organic means that what the animals ingested was organic but not that their conditions were natural or conducive to proper animal care. Pieces of chicken should not be double in size. Fish should not be farm raised - wild caught can be better. Meat should be grass fed - not corn or grain fed.
I am asking you to try and buy organic and local produce as often as your budget will allow. This is another process that I did not understand until hearing about all of the chemicals they spray onto farms. This impacts the growth and overall composition of our produce, our soil, and our water supply. Our bodies need the freshest ingredients we can find, that have not been tainted.
I am asking you to experiment with portion control and that less is more with your food. I KNOW that when you are hungry, your stomach gets a mind of it’s own, that you want to buy up all the items in the store, and eat to your hearts content. But we have to remember that we should not gorge ourselves because we can but instead eat in moderation and only until we are full.
I am asking you to realize the importance of quality over quantity with food. This causes you not to buy the cheaper brand of items but instead pay the extra few cents or dollars to eat the flavorful steak, fish, produce, or dessert.
These are the biggest points to be mindful of, though I could go on for pages. These are all things that I opened my mind, eyes, and stomach to. It’s all about being aware of what is around us. I practice each of the things I asked of you above and hope that you will consider adding to your routine. Each person has to learn about their food and food systems and adapt that knowledge to what their own body is telling them. I feel best when I eat meat about once a week. Perhaps you will feel best eating a fist-sized amount twice a week, every few weeks, or eating no meat at all. You have to apply and adapt the knowledge you gain about food to your own body’s needs.
This journey is definitely a process. There was and still is a lot for me to learn about the food industry in America. Embarking on this food journey can seem overwhelming and pointless but trust me, your body will thank you in the long run.