Monday, July 25, 2011

Good Food

Good food.  What is good food?  As I read yet another statistic about how our nation's health is worsening, I ask myself that question.  Is it food that is healthy? Perhaps, the good food label is only reserved for those dishes that are decadent or complicated to make or both.  Is it food only found in specialty stores of the expensive variety?  When I walk through the aisles of the grocery store, I try to discern which foods are good and which ones are not: it is both difficult and confusing.

The good food debate is gaining steam in America and it seems every interest group wants to own a piece of the conversation.  While some advocate for fresh, organic and minimally processed, others struggle simply to put food, any food on the table.  For those in the second group, categorizing food as "good" or "bad" seems out of touch.  It turns out we have a fair amount of food insecurity in our nation.  Your neighbor may not have access or be able to afford good food.  In this land of enormous plenty, that does not seem to make a whole lot of sense.  We want to eat what is "healthy", but the data is not so consistent or clear on what "healthy" is.  So what is one to do?  How can we tell what is good food?

For me, good food is tied to my early years living with my grandparents.  They had fruit trees, vegetables, and coconut trees in their backyard.  Grandpa went to the market everyday to get fresh fish, or meat, or whatever happened to be on the menu.  Everything tasted good, EVERYTHING: from the bittermelon dishes to the sweet coconut water, a gift from the trees in the yard.  Then there were the bananas, little, petite, picked the day we ate them, and most of all delicious.  As an adult, that is the "good food" I yearn for.  It is both a result of those happy years and the feeling that food that one witnesses grow and mature simply can't be bad for you. 

I have always tried to eat good food, but quality food is sometimes not affordable (especially when one is attending graduate school).  My father used to say, even when times were especially difficult, that the one thing he would not sacrifice was good food.  "I work, so I can eat well." He said, "Everything else comes second." That has always stuck with me.  The most basic reason to work is to be able to eat.  Without food, good food, one has difficulty getting on.  Now, as an adult, I can finally afford good food.  I can go to the grocery store and buy food, regardless of price, and not feel guilty.  (Don't get me wrong, I am not a billionaire and can't afford grass fed organic beef or Wild Alaskan Salmon everyday, once a month is probably what my budget will allow.)  It is liberating to be able to finally eat good food.  I am grateful I can do so, since I know that many of my country men and women cannot.

So yes, I fall on that end of the continuum that eats organic, mostly local, and minimally processed food.  I have lost 25 pounds on this diet of good food.  I don't worry about calories, or fat content, or points.  I simply eat good food.  My community supported agricultural (CSA)  farm allows me this decadence for 24 weeks out of the year.  I eat organic berries, squash, melons, cucumbers, eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and a wide array of vegetables not found in grocery stores.  This food is picked the day I pick it up and consumed the week it is picked.  For the first time in all my years in the States, the food I eat tastes like the food I had living with my grandparents.  I cherish every morsel I put in my mouth, because good food is not a guarantee.  It can yanked from you like a good job.

When my 24 weeks are over, I still eat organic and minimally processed, but it is hard to eat local when it snows.  The CSA has a winter share, which perhaps this year I might be able to afford.  It would be amazing to have good food all year round.

All of us deserve good food.  We should not have to choose between a bag apples and a loaf of white bread because the apples costs more.  I like to think that I vote with my fork every time I choose the organic option.  Yes, it costs more, but at the end of the day, I work so I can eat.  Health is indeed wealth, and good food is the necessary ingredient.  With good food, and the good health that comes with it, I am already one step ahead.  This makes me wonder, how can we as a society demand good food?  This is America afterall, shouldn't we expect the best?  I don't have the answer to that question, I just know that we should all have access to good food that we can afford.  So the next time you contemplate what to make for dinner or purchase for consumption, ask yourself: Is this good food?

This weeks CSA bounty....


1 comment:

  1. Such a great post! I wish people would start seeing good in this light! :)

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