Recipe fantasy to food reality.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

5 a day? Yeah right!

Reading this post at Morsels of Megret reminds me of something I have learned in the past few months, which I think is an important lesson if you're going to enjoy eating healthy foods: shopping for produce takes time and attention. It's only something that I've gotten any good at in the last few months, and my diet has changed accordingly. When I go to the grocery store and look at the produce, I have to wonder who eats these rock-hard "peaches" and "tomatoes." I certainly don't. And, judging by the diet habits of Americans, no one else does, either. I think it says something bizarre about American culture that we prefer food that looks like it should to food that tastes like it should. Sure, the tomatoes are awfully shiny and blemish-free by the time they make it to Northern Idaho from wherever they came, but that oughtn't be enough to get me to buy them. A McDonald's cheeseburger is an unsullied, platonic form of a cheeseburger, but it tastes nothing like something you'd make at home.

So, the next time you read a news report on the dismal eating habits of Americans, don't guiltily think of your last midnight run to Jack in the Box. Just remember that you don't have to eat the phony produce that comes in 5 lb bags. My usual tactic is to go with what looks and smells like it would be tasty, rather than making a plan of what produce to buy. Some staples, like tomatoes, I admit I'll eat whether they at all resemble what I want or not. But something you plan on eating on its own, like an apple or a pear, don't bother unless it's in a decent condition. Otherwise, it'll molder on your shelf, and continue to fuel your all too understandable avoidance of fresh produce.

P.S. I'm not just trying to preach to the choir about this, or condescend. I suppose that if you're interested in food, you are probably careful about your produce. On the other hand, I've been very interested in cooking for a long time, and have only really gotten the hang of buying fresh fruit in the past few months. This really is an epiphone for me, and I just wanted to emphasize that you don't have to be a junk food junkie to not be eating a lot of produce. With what's available, it's only natural. Cultivating the ability to choose good produce has been a bigger influence on improving my nutritional intake than anything else. More on choosing later; I've still got a lot to learn myself.


At 3:13 PM, Blogger Rawdog said...

Since you write a lot about food (and why not!) you might find this interesting. Kitchen Myths. I can't vouch for the accuracy.


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