27 February 2012

Food Culture: Perhaps a Bit Broken?

I have a BA in French and an MA in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. This qualifies me as an expert in... absolutely nothing when it comes to athletics and nutrition. So, please take the following with a grain of salt; it is simply my humble opinion.

Let's talk food. We all like food, right (especially of the chocolate chip variety!!)? But do we all like real food? Not that processed, disgusting stuff that seems to pass as food with ever-alarming frequency here in America, but REAL FOOD. Did you know that the chicken thighs and breasts at the chicken shack in Burkina Faso are about 1/2 the size of what you'd find here in the US? I attribute this to the fact that the Burkinabe aren't shooting up their chickens with growth hormones.

My simple observations have shown that we like food that is fast, cheap, and easy (salty and high in calories are an added bonus). Our kitchens are growing dusty because they sit unused while we order dinner from the drive-thru or grab a quick lunch from Wendy's. Recently a website touting a fast and easy solution to getting dinner on your table (seamless.com - order your heart attack (errrrr, dinner) online and pick it up on your way home). I'd consider looking at the website (because we could all use a little more time) if the ads showed foods that were even remotely appealing, but the "dinners" they are advertising look *disgusting.* The packaged foods are in takeout containers, complete with little ketchup, mustard, and soy sauce packets. It's just my opinion, but that hardly looks appetizing enough to make me want to part with my hard earned money - why not spend the money (and a little extra time) at the grocery store instead?

Yes, I was that girl post-college who ate grape nuts and toast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (no pots and pans to clean up afterwards). Then I met Mr. Sweetie who liked to have actual dinner food for dinner and 7.5 years later I have changed my ways. I know I don't have kids or any major commitments outside of work and triathlon training so I have the luxury of time when it comes to cooking a meal every night. But most nights I don't get home from work until 7pm, with an evening workout staring me down, and Mr. Sweetie and I still manage to cook a healthy meal 99% of the time. I then usually bring the leftovers in to work for lunch the next day. Healthy food doesn't need to be time-consuming. There are many healthy dishes out there that can be put together faster than it takes to drive to McDonalds, go through the drive-thru, and return home.

OK, rant is almost over. One last thing - our food culture is broken. IT IS BROKEN. What has happened to the family dinner? What has happened to sitting down and eating a meal at the dinner table instead of in front of the TV? What has happened to cooking meals together and sharing stories of your day? Are Mr. Sweetie and I the only people who do that anymore? We have one television in our house and it's in our basement. I can't tell you the last time I turned it on. We eat dinner once a week in front of the tv - our Friday night pizza/movie ritual. All other nights we are at the dinner table, eating a proper meal. This past weekend I had my friend Cat over for an evening - we cooked a fantastic meal and topped it off with homemade cupcakes (OK, so the cupcakes were not the healthiest, but we gave most of them away to friends and neighbors). The point is - this was a fantastic Saturday night because of the healthy food we put together and the fun we had doing it. It was the perfect opportunity to catch up with each other. The dishes that we made were from the most recent issue of Food and Wine, a magazine that typically features indulgent meals but had several recipes on the lighter, healthier side this month. I highly recommend the following, as they are not only yummy and healthy, but weeknight-friendly too:

And I now leave you with a photo that really has nothing to do with nutrition, unless you count dumpster diving in the garbage disposal as a primary means of getting your daily meals:

These are my cats. Sigh.


Katie said...

for some reason, I can only cook dinners that serve 4, but it's fabulous because my leftover-loving hubz always has lunches to take. but i agree with you completely. we make a point of eating dinner together at the table as many nights as possible, and we never eat in front of the tv.

Catharine said...

I'm so glad you posted the recipes. I had my leftover grains and veggies for dinner last night and they were out of this world. I told Oli I am calling that dish the "bowl of health." Yum, yum, yum!

You know I agree with you about the processed food. Great points.

(For some reason this isn't letting me post as my WordPress self...so I switched to google)

onthebusrunning said...

Amen! My parents were big on eating together every night and I think Rachel and I do a good job keeping that ritual in tact. It's the easiest way for us to catch up during the week. Excellent rant!

Sarah said...

Love the pictures of your kitties! too cute.

Anyhow thanks for finding my blog :) You have down a lot of IMs and international races. I def. will be coming to you for advice :)