Food and Resolutions
I like new year’s resolutions, but I am not an absolutist. I like to set goals and incorporate small changes that become habits over time. I believe that if I try to do anything 100% from day one, it will be a distant memory by day 30.
At the beginning of 2006, I resolved to change the way I shop for food. I wanted to focus more on “shopping the perimeter” of the store (bread, meat, dairy, produce), placing less of a focus on pre-processed and packaged foods. Three years later, I’ve made great progress and feel as if I’ve always been shopping this way. In fact, as of 2007, major supermarkets have basically been eliminated from my food shopping altogether.
Many of my resolutions have to do with food, because it’s one of the things I think about more than any other subject. I constantly think about mistakes I made cooking and meals I’m going to cook next. I wake up in the morning with cravings for dishes I ate many months earlier, and I plan vacations around what and where to eat. After years of being an indiscriminant foodie, my tastes and interests shifted to seasonal, ingredient-focused cuisine. I found myself less excited by the new, cutting-edge restaurants and more in love with crafts and artisans. I began to look for the emphasis on ingredient and flavor rather than method and skill.
This style of eating appealed not only to my taste buds but to my left-wing ethic. It was this combination of forces that inspired my 2008 resolution.
At the beginning of 2008, I resolved to drastically increase the percentage of local food that we buy and eat in our household (this resolution is one of the forces behind the creation of this site). We joined a CSA (twice) and significantly increased our farmer’s market intake. I started favoring locally-grown products at my local Whole Foods (and telling the manager that I was doing so). I wasn’t 100% perfect (I wasn’t going for that) but I was 200% better than I used to be.
Looking back, I can say that all our household eggs and dairy were locally-produced (not difficult) and that I spent very little time in a regular produce department this year. We ate much less meat and I tried to buy locally and sustainably-produced meats where possible. We also ate out much less, although that might have something to do with the fact that our family is twice the size as it was a year ago.
A resolution won’t take hold unless you enjoy it. You won’t go to the gym if it feels like work to you. You won’t quit smoking if you truly love cigarettes. I can say honestly that I love the changes I’m making in my food habits.
Going forward, my resolutions for 2009 are to “take it to the next level” in terms of preservation and preparation. I want to bake more bread (we don’t eat much bread at home, maybe two loaves per month, and what we do usually comes from the Whole Foods bakery). I want to purchase a chest freezer for my basement and purchase a meat share from Cedar Valley Sustainable. Most importantly, I want to preserve more of the summer foods in the freezer, in jars, and dried: tomatoes, peaches, blueberries, broccoli, and more.
If you ever think about changing your food habits, the new year is a great time to act on those feelings. You can start small by favoring locally- and humanely-produced eggs in your supermarket like Phil’s and dairy like Organic Valley. You can resolve to use the city’s farmer’s markets or even join a CSA (our 2009 guide will be published soon). Resolve to be more aware of where your food comes from and how it’s produced. Over time, I believe you’ll feel better physically and mentally when you eat fresher, less-processed foods.
Have a happy, and healthy 2009,
Editor in Chief
The Local Beet