So you're well acquainted with my nerd-like devotion to online lectures. I've got another one for you.
New York Times bestselling author of Food Matters and How to Cook Everything Mark Bittman gives us even more reasons to eat well -- not only for your own health, but for the environment as well.
Because my life takes fun and interesting turns, I have an opportunity to meet Mr. Bittman tomorrow and I'm kinda jazzed. I think I'm the only food nerd I know who goes so far as to recognize the major voices in the slow-food, "omnivore's dilemma" movement and would be nervous to meet any of them.
I have good reason though. I enjoy Bittman's work, because his writings are a confirmation for me. You see, I realized on my own the kind of difference that good food can make in your life. And as soon as I gave eating well an inch, it took miles.
A little of a year ago, I was in the doctor's office with an assistant explaining to me how unhealthy I was. High levels of this and that. I felt okay, but apparently my insides were a different story. She suggested to me to change my diet and start exercising.
Booo. Hissss. Not what I wanted to hear, but I needed a change.
I didn't want to give up eating the foods I loved, so I made a compromise. What if I cooked everything? Instead of going to Chic-fil-A, I'll learn how to fry my own chicken. Instead of the frozen Italian meal in a bag, why don't I look up the ingredients and make it fresh? That's gotta make a dent.
And make a dent, it did.
The fascinating thing about cooking for yourself is that you become so aware of what you put into your body. You see how much butter goes into a dish, and you find yourself wanting to taper that. You begin making adjustments in your salt intake. Not to mention portion control. You dictate how much you'll eat by how much you make. I have learned how to make almost anything into a recipe for one. And I'm so crazy now about eating food that's freshly prepared, I don't make more than I'll eat. If I do, I share with friends or roommates.
After a few months of cooking, examining how I made food slowly turned into a study of the ingredients themselves. Where did this tomato come from? How long did it take to get here? Can I cut out a few of the middle men and find this tomato somewhere closer?
I discovered a local farmer's market and fell in love. It wasn't just locavore chic. Their fruits and vegetables were good quality. The Moms and Pops who ran the stands will talk to you and tell you where they get their produce. And... well, you know about my love affair with the butcher shop.
Six months of cooking for myself and joining a local gym, I go back to the doctor's office. They are impressed with the results. Cholesterol back in normal range. She called my blood/sugar levels "beautiful." She asked, "How did you do this?" And I gave her the good news of my food gospel. I eat well and exercise.
And, let me say that, sure, I'm not perfect. I grab fast food when I'm on the road, and most of my close friends know I can be bribed to do just about anything with gummie bears. However, for the most part, I eat what I make. Processed foods gross me out a little. If I can't understand 90% of the listed ingredients, I'm not eating it. I know the truth now, and I can't go back.
So yes, I get excited about food and other people who believe in its healing powers as well. It never stops being important.