August 31, 2008

Fresh vs. Processed

Before we as a nation and world started eating canned sodas, packaged cereals, boxed cookies and frozen pizza we lived in a world where squeezing orange juice, chopping carrots, kneading dough and baking cookies was the norm. In the past few months I started looking at food with a different perspective, perhaps that's because I am taking food seriously (ha ha). I have been noticing how much I can really do with food and how much I can make myself. Sure, it takes a little extra time, but it just tastes better. And perhaps I have also been paying attention to the abundance and variety.

When I was in Thailand less than two years ago it was very common to have street vendors selling their homemade goods to you everywhere. I don't think they needed licenses or a vendor permit! What I noticed was that even "junk" food was good for you. The ladies were selling coconut fried sweet potato, homemade coconut sweet sticky rice with mango, even Pad Thai and spring rolls. However, all of these items were freshly made with local produce and ingredients.
I have also noticed how much better food tastes when I make an effort to tasting it in its natural state. I thought to myself even the other day, wow, there are so many things you can eat that are natural and can be made into fantastic tasting products. Everything from avocado to dates and cashews and passionfruit juice to corn on the cob and homemade bean spread. It's amazing because when you realize how much variety is out there you can find complete satisfaction with prepared foods that are fresh and natural.
You don't need "junk food" or "processed" foods to satisfy your cravings. The key, eating a variety of foods and discovering the largest range of foods as possible. Don't just eat almonds, try cashews, walnuts, pecans and even macadamia nuts and sunflower seeds. Lettuce by itself is boring, add some shredded beet and fresh corn for a change to a salad. Instead of grabbing that cookie try some dates, chocolate and dried ginger to satisfy your sweet tooth. Texture is important. Crunch vs. soft vs. raw vs. baked or boiled. Variety of foods is extremely important.

Start experimenting and trying foods that you may not necesarily have eaten lately. Start with a different fruit that is in season or add a different type of vegetable to your mix vegetables this week. Just a few weeks ago at the local farmer's market "New Zealand" spinach variety was in season. Wow, what a taste sensation that was. It tasted nothing like the spinach I was used to. And in Oahu I bought four types of honey, wow, is all I can say. Foods in their natural state are varied, tasty, and so good for you when you eat them prepared with other fresh foods. Look around and notice. Activate your senses. Activate your sense of taste and smell and sight. Try adding color to an otherwise bland dish. It's important that you feel satisfied after a meal, even if it's just a salad.

And can you imagine if we as a nation started looking at food as a way of life versus which diet we need to eat. Trust your instincts. Start with a simple shift in perspective. You will start discovering a new world beginning to open before your eyes. What a beautiful, abundant and bright world it is. Open your eyes and mouth and taste the bounty that lies before you. And start putting what tastes good onto your plate and enjoy the taste like never before. Be adventurous. I think you'll surprise yourself and perhaps you will start enjoying what's all around you like never before. Live well, eat well.

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