Eating Plant,Mostly:Week 6 closure
What a great month! This has been good for me,and while I have confirmed my suspicions that I am a far from perfect human being,I have gained my own trust and respect some,also. I feel more like a scientist of myself,and also more empowered to handle change of other kinds,beyond diet. Which is good,because life is twisting up some curve balls this spring and I want to be on my game.
I batted a home run (sorry,where did this baseball metaphor come from?) last weekend with a bean curry recipe from the back of a spice packet –Arora Creations organic spice mix,to be exact –and some baby lima beans this customer had recommended as his favorite kind of bean one time when i was standing in the bulk aisle looking stumped (try this some day you are feeling brave –let a stranger –or a friend –pick out your dinner idea –it’s a great way to learn where your food blocks are. I,for instance,have been INCREDIBLY prejudiced against the baby lima bean. I apologize,little lima beans. Also to lentils –I have not been nice to lentils.)
Food guilt aside,I used what I had in the fridge and pantry. It went a little bit like this:
Curry Stew Concotion
Baby Lima Beans –cover in water,bring to a boil,then remove from heat and let sit for 2 hrs. Drain water,add fresh broth or water or coconut milk to pot and cook for 45 minutes. I used mushroom broth because i had a carton open from friday night’s polenta making.
steam sweet potatoes strips in a deep sauce pan with water. Chop onions,garlic,ginger,zucchini,jalapeno –add to sauce pan with a wee bit of oil
Add 1 can of diced tomatoes and the Arora curry spices -stir it all together over med-low heat
Chop up cilantro and avocado
I added leftover polenta (prepared with mushroom broth too) which thickened up the curry into almost a stew –SO delicious.
OK –feeling well fed in your mind? Good. Now on to politics:
There’s been a “conversation”of sorts,brewing on the internets,which has been interesting to follow from researchers studying the impacts of diet of brain and attitude function. As someone who is both personally invested in good food choices, and professionally bound to talk about the many layers and perspectives in our food system,and to encourage people to invest in their own good choices –I’ve been paying attention:
The first study that came out,done by Bristol University in the UK,of three,four,seven,and eight year old kids eating habits,and published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health,determined that junk food makes you fat and stupid
An answering study found that going organic turns you into a jerk –which researchers at Loyola University in New Orleans and published in the journal Social,Psychological and Personality Science.
Pretty polarizing stuff –and both studies true,mostly likely.
I think back to my awkward conversation in the kitchen and it makes sense –food is a great connector,and the conversations I’ve had with people this month about diet shifts and perspectives on food have helped me deepen my own relationship with my diet choices. Food is also a polarizer,because it is political:it’s a big ole lens through which to see the world –it’s a holograph of our culture and our systems.
And it’s deeply personal. At the beginning of that movie Fat,Sick and Nearly Dead,Joe is on the streets of new York,asking all kinds of people what they like to eat,what their diet is like,what they think about the idea of a juice fast. There is a curious mix of ownership and acknowledgment in their replies -they know they probably should change their ways,but as one man replied “I just hope there’s ribs in heaven”.
People love ribs,burgers,soda,pizza,fast food,candy,and treats of all kinds –they are how we reward ourselves for navigating the obstacles of daily life –the way we keep ourselves going –they symbolize something private and personal,and they become the Quick Fix. So what if sugar is a chronic toxin,and sets us up for imbalances across the board,as this NY Times article explores in good depth –it satisfies some urgent need to soothe ourselves as well.
We’ve been hearing the scientific community bicker about what causes disease and what foods to manage or avoid for decades now,and at the same time we’ve been increasingly “hard-sold”the fast -cheap- convenient system of eating in our daily lives,and increasingly medicated for the epidemic of maladies that arrive when the body is mal-nourished. Malnourished –badly fed,not just quantity,but quality –folks eating primarily processed foods are not getting a fraction of the nutrition available from whole foods…bodies can recover from all sorts of injury –but the chronic daily habitual “thousand tiny cuts”kind of hurts do catch up to us.
It’s a different energy required to prepare slice carrots and grapes and jicama for myself on a Friday morning,when I’m already late in to work. This feels like I’m setting myself up for success later –that’s what success is,sustained determination of desire,with a long term goal in mind. Turning down the quick fix is difficult,often the impulse to reach for and the satisfaction of putting a handful of something sweet in my mouth,is almost instantaneous –it happens before I think about it.
The times I’ve slipped up this month,were when I didn’t set myself up for success,first thing in the morning. Two days before the end of this month’s experiment,I went back to my old morning habit –out the door with coffee and a banana,but nothing else to eat for the day. it was rainy again,after the beautiful weekend,and I was kinda grumbly and growly bear about it. Later in the afternoon,standing by the Deli hot bar –hungry –the red chard enchiladas were on my plate before I even really thought about it.
For the record,there is nothing wrong with the red chard enchiladas –they are one of my favorite entrees at the Co-op and my habit is to get one whenever we serve them. It wasn’t until halfway through the plate that I started to regret the cheese factor…but by that time I’d already succumbed,so I kept going and finished my yummy lunch –and then noticed how congested I got –almost immediately.
I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that I’m not alone in this -I just got a link to an interesting infographic about how the quality of people’s choices goes downhill as the day goes on –that we are a nation,if not a world,of late night junk food munchers.
The good news in this is that we wake up each morning and try again –bring on the AM vegetables!
So it will go with me in the weeks to come –I’ve made some new good food friends this month and I intend to keep hanging out and getting to know them better…