Why is it so hard to eat healthy? I often have wondered this. I believe it is because as Americans we do not have our own food culture. If we were from India we would crave curries and lentils and coconut. If we were Japanese we would crave the tastes of sea weed and fresh vegetables. We would crave the tastes of our genetic history, of fresh, local produce. For someone like me, whose family has been in this country for over four hundred years (seriously, according to Ancestry.com no one in my family has come over since the 1700’s!) I have McDonalds and meatloaf to hold dear. Monsanto lives here. If it doesn’t have artificial flavors then it isn’t savory or sustaining enough. It is just bland. We crave the tastes of our youth! American tacos, and steak, and canned vegetables! Just kidding, I never crave canned vegetables. But I can tell you that the folks that frequent the farmers markets have no clue what vegetables are local.
Sure, we have regional specialties; fried chicken in the south, and clam chowder in the east, and we have adopted the cuisines of every other nation. But we haven’t a clue about our own food history because a lot of times folks were just starving. People of the world just started eating every animal in sight. We have a genetic disposition for fear of starving or not having enough.
People that come to America are always surprised at what our serving sizes look like. One meal at a restaurant could feed a whole family!
That is why it is hard to eat healthy. We don’t know what that looks like.
We don’t have our own food history. We have let big companies take over our food system. But can we rewire our brains to crave certain foods? Is it too late to simplify our palates? I wonder.
It seems to me that a plate full of whole grains; farro, buckwheat, rice, barley, rye, topped with in-season vegetables of varying colors, and topped with a savory sauce of some sort; tomato based or smoked cashew or asian or red chile, would be amazing at every meal. Inevitably we start craving restaurant food. It is never as good as what we make at home yet there must be artificial ingredients and flavorings that our bodies crave. Like it’s the taste of home, or something.
The gardening season is coming up and I intend to retrain our taste buds! We are now on a rather strict budget (time to practice what I preach) and we will not be gallivanting around restaurants anymore. Eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, seeds, legumes, and nuts help us to avoid the more expensive, processed, nutritionally deplete foods and save A LOT on the grocery bill. Pastas (homemade or not), homemade sourdough, whole grains, fresh, sauteed, or roasted vegetables from the gardens or market, fresh fruits, roasted nuts as toppings for meals, or made into sauces, or eaten as snacks, seeds added to delicious, crisp salads, and beans and other legumes seasoned and added to meals. We will create our own food history. The Garden Food Movement! Not a diet, but a lifestyle. The new food history of America. One household at a time…
All of the above dishes are plant based. It’s time we take back our health and our food.