With the New Year, you’re probably thinking about resolutions. You know, those annual “exercise more, lose weight, find a new job, be nicer to my spouse” kinds of promises we make to ourselves that usually disappear into thin air within a month or so.
I make resolutions every year that often leave me feeling unsatisfied and even a little guilty when I don’t keep those promises to myself. But here are some resolutions for foodies that can help you experience food a little differently – and they aren’t hard to keep.
Get real. If you want to experience the best taste in food and eat foods that are healthful, trying eating foods that are as close to nature as possible. Whenever possible, go for fresh veggies, not canned or frozen (though if you must, frozen is better than canned). Buy local food. It’ll will be fresher (which always translates to better taste) and local foods use fewer resources (like fuel for transportation) so they’re better for the planet. Try eating grass fed beef, free range chicken, and wild caught (not farmed) fish. You’ll notice differences in flavor and you’ll be doing a kindness for the earth.
Go small. Try out foods made by small, artisan vendors. Sometimes you’ll pay a little more, but the quality is worth it and you’ll experience flavors you’ve never imagined. (Not to mention you’ll be supporting an actual person(s) and not some giant, faceless corporation beholden to shareholders.) When we travel for realfoodtraveler.com, we specialize in looking for artisan producers and reviewing their products and/or profiling them for you. Check out our “Real Food Finds” and “Foodie Profiles” sections to see what you may be missing.
Get out of your rut. I’m just as guilty as the next person for going to the same restaurant or using the same food or recipe over and over. There’s anything wrong with having some longtime favorites. But the food industry is dynamic. New restaurants are opening all the time. Check out our “Great Places to Eat” section to see if there are new restaurants we’ve reviewed in your area or places you plan to travel to this year. New food producers and artisan craftsmen are selling their wares and coming up with new products and delicious flavors all the time. See our “Real Food Finds” for ideas. Chefs are producing new recipes all the time (and you can see some of them in our “Recipes” section). Resolve to explore the world with your palate in the new year.
Learn about regional flavors. When you travel, find out which foods make that country or area special and try it, whether it’s jellyfish in Singapore, tamales in New Mexico, or foie gras in Quebec. Shop in local markets. When you’re on the road, take a cooking class. We participated in a Spanish foods class that involved a market tour and hands-on cooking and another in making paella when we were in Spain and it deepened our knowledge and appreciation of Spanish foods and the history and culture of the country. Hire an expert to take you on a local food tour. Our tapas tour in Seville was a real highlight.
Go for quality not quantity. The Western Hemisphere, especially the U.S., is in the throes of an obesity epidemic. Portion sizes have risen so much in the last 50 years that we think a quart or more of sugary soda is normal! Many of our foods are laden with unhealthful and fattening high fructose corn syrup. And we’re eating more and more processed foods so filled with dyes, fillers, and preservatives that they hardly resemble real food. Say no and vow to eat less, but better food.
Quality food doesn’t have to cost more. You can grow many of your own fruits and vegetables. Even a few herbs, greens, and tomato plants on your deck can add greatly to the freshness and quality of your meals. And delicious, healthful ingredients like whole grains such as barley and brown rice and legumes such as black beans and dried peas cost pennies per serving and deliver a huge nutritional punch.
These are just a few ideas for you for New Year’s resolutions to improve both your food experience and your health. Let us know your own resolutions for eating and traveling in the New Year by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy real food traveling! – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor