Posts tagged supermarket
Posts tagged supermarket
January with Supermarkets - Week 2 and 3 of the Self-Imposed Challenge
No, I didn’t make it a whole month without supermarkets. After somehow escaping the flu that had been spreading around my co-workers and friends for over a month, I finally found myself at home sick mid-January, missing the weekend farmers’ markets. I was craving fresh citrus and some greek yogurt to whip up an enlivening smoothie, but my kitchen was empty except for some wilting, earthy greens and roots. Oh, and nuts. So many raw nuts.
So, here we are after a quick trip to Safeway:
Personal lessons learned as part of the January resolution challenge
1) Sometimes, going to the supermarket will actually be the healthier choice. Yes, it may be a great goal to try to avoid supermarkets and focus on sourcing your food from farmers’ markets. However, when you run out of food and are starting to sustain yourself on raw nuts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, maybe you should give in and just go grocery shopping the now “normal” way. Nuts day in and day out do not represent any kind of healthy balance. I can’t wait to hit up the Whole Foods salad and veggie bar for lunch again, because health-wise, it’s bound to beat multiple slices of whole wheat bread with honey or nut butter on the days I ran out of time to cook…
2) Some things are worth buying instead of making. My “make your own nut butter” experiment ended in a total disaster and lots of money wasted on a cruddy machine that fell apart after a single use. Turns out, unless I want to shell out $200 for a fancy food processor, homemade results will likely be questionable and frustrating. Back to Whole Foods I go to grab the freshly-ground stuff there! Sometimes, convenience is key.
3) To get used to new foods, introduce them slowly. I bought fennel despite some initial apprehension, and rolled with it, making it a main ingredient in this recipe. However, another bulb of fennel arrived three days later via my CSA box. Dun dun dun. I was not happy. I live alone and thus cook for one, and there’s only so much I want to eat of a new food unless it blows me away the first time around. So, the second fennel is still sitting in my fridge rejected. Poor little thing. Again, that’s where something like the variety at Whole Foods comes in - I try new things all the time, but I just add a spoonful of new tastes onto familiar tastes. Less risk, less potential disappointment, and way more fun. It’s how I’ve vastly increased the variety of my diet over the past one to two years. It’s sustainable personal change. Going Full Monty on it, though, by eating 100% seasonally, was a little too much for me. That CSA-delivered avocado is still staring at me from the fridge —— it’s just TOO BIG.
So despite all of those shortcomings, what practical, more universal advice can I share?
These are the take-aways I’ll keep applying to my life:
1) Start your grocery shopping at the weekly farmers’ market, and only supplement your kitchen with supermarket purchases.
2) Try at least one new fruit or vegetable a week.
3) Don’t stick to any food rules too closely. Live a little. If you’re too limited, you’ll start making irrational choices. Too little salt, too little variety, etc. just because something is not in season. If a banana is a great on-the-go breakfast you know has worked for you, don’t shun it. Nope, it’s not local. Yep, it’s still healthy. How many mornings in a row can you eat yogurt with kiwi or oatmeal before you start missing variety? I WANT MY BANANA, and I want it now. Eat what feels right, fuels your body and is mostly natural, and you’ll be off the best. Balance, kiddo, balance.
No Supermarkets in January - Week 1 of Self-Imposed Challenge
I started off with such enthusiasm. I had made up my mind to eschew supermarkets for the month, and I was ready to get this thing started. January 1st of this year conveniently fell on a Sunday, which meant the beautiful and expansive farmers’ market out in Mountain View was open for business. Hurrah!
Armed with about 25$ and a few bags, I was on the look-out for the most seasonal foods I could find. Sure, you can find strawberries at a farmers’ market in California in January, but how natural and tasty that is is an entirely different question. Instead, I filled up with a variety of organic apples, kiwi, pears, cauliflower, green onions, fresh eggs, cabbage, carrots, nearly a pound of pork from Full of Life farm and some other stuff I’ve since likely forgotten about.
So far, so good.
After I cooked up a random vegetable cornocopia in preparation for my first day back at work, I arrived at the office on January 2 only to realize it was a holiday. Oh. Who shows up at work on a holiday? This woman, apparently. So… Back at home with the whole day ahead of me, I then had the opportunity to prepare for a few other work lunches as well. With all my other competing New Year’s resolutions, I definitely welcomed the extra time. Jackpot!
That day and for the rest of the week, I tried my hand at creative cooking. Try, try, fail again, my friend. I really do need to begin planning my food shopping with recipes in advance, and then actually follow them. Week two? Yeah.
Left to my own devices, I made rather mediocre:
And then, a few days into the challenge, I realized I had greatly underestimated the amount of food you need to buy at the farmers’ market if it is your sole food source. Oopsies.
Enter rule #1 for my personal challenge - “It’s ok to shop at local stores if you must”. This may seem like a cop-out, but a girl’s gotta eat. I ended up hitting up both Sigona’s and the Milk Pail Market. I also added a stop at Mayfield Bakery and was finally set with a borderline-farmers-market-worthy-list-of-extra-stuff to carry me over until the weekend: organic whole milk, 1 greek yogurt, kiwis, California olive oil, parsnips, beets, dark Levain bread, and, of course, both 70 and 90% chocolates. Yum.
As best I could, I stuck to rule #2 is - “If you go to a food store, buy only what would be available at a farmers’ market.”
Yep, that’s except for rule #3of my personal challenge - “It’s ok to eat chocolate with 70%+ cocoa levels and drink coffee/espresso concoctions”. Within limit, of course. For the safety and sanity of those around me, this exception is a purely preventative measure. You’re welcome.
I topped all of that off with a trip to Williams-Sonoma which is, as I learned, a much more entertaining store if you actually cook. I walked out with a yogurt maker I had been eyeing and got to work on it. This morning, I woke up to creamy, tangy splendor. The deliciousness exceeded anything store-bought that has ever hit my lips. Well, ok, that’s a lie, but that is what I had envisioned, of course. Instead, I ended up with a less tangy product that tasted more like a clumpy version of the whole milk I had used than the yogurt I am used to, but ok. The great news is that I have a whole week worth of the substance left. Mhhh! I’ll have to work on the flavor and consistency a bit next week. Nothing some fresh kiwi, local Ollalieberry honey and chopped walnuts as topping cannot fix.
Does anyone have any tips for better results?
So, here’s the round-up of week 1 of my supermarket-less adventure:
Well, on to week two!
Disclaimer: I used other staples I already had, if few, in my meals as well. Lots of raw almonds, some sea salt, lentils, beans, etc. No need to waste that $! :)
When did food become a required source of entertainment and excitement?
I must admit, I’ve often fallen prey to it myself. Recently, I found myself staring into my fridge lamenting that the wonderful, fresh selection of potatoes, lettuce, etc. was actually “boring”. At that moment, my mother brought me back to reality and kindly pointed out that food is not intended to be a source of entertainment. Duh. Yet, it had eluded me in that moment. I vividly remember my grandparents relishing a boiled potato or a slice of crisp bread with true and pure appreciation every day of their life.
So, what has happened to the times when having food to eat, let alone enough food, was a blessing to be thankful for? When the entertainment from food came not through bright packaging and the made-up stories it tells, but from family meals, conversation, culture, tradition, nature and all other factors that make up a healthy food system?
These days, colorful television advertisements sell happiness and lifestyle as part of processed foods that you can zap into a semi-edible state in seconds, though of course what you buy will look nothing like what you’re sold. Superheroes and toys elevate everything you really should be avoiding into a completely unrelated and unnatural dining experience. Eating has in some ways become an attempt at recreating fast food slogans in your own life. Are you lovin’ it?
Contrary to that very wide-spread problem, California in particular has seen a vibrant revival of an appreciation of real, slow food. With the abundance of farmers markets, excellent restaurants with locally sourced ingredients and the proximity to “America’s salad bowl”, one of the most productive agricultural regions in the US, it has been easy to be swept up in the enthusiasm for healthy eating.
The ironic part of it all is that as I move away from boxed supermarket purchases, I lose not ony the fake, industrialized foods and the fake entertainment they sell, but also gain real excitement about food. Turns out the sheer variety of real foods you can eat is much more exciting than anything a marketing department has made up. I stopped by the small Sigona’s market today, for example, as I missed the farmers markets this weekend, and walked out with a hop and a skip. Who was this person, excited to bite into her walnut-stuffed date, carrying baskets of nuts and fruits for snacking? Who was this woman, excited to take her life’s first bite of fresh fig, admiring its textures and visual beauty, sauteeing her own raw almonds in avocado oil and pink sea salt, marveling at the fun of squashing a ripe, red raspberry onto the ceiling of her mouth? Today, that woman was me, and it still shocks me every time I catch my pure enjoyment of handling fresh foods.In a way, discovering the foods I should have been eating all along makes me feel like an excited child all over again, and that’s a wonderful side effect indeed!
I never had any interest in cooking or how food grew or tasting new flavors unless they came wrapped in branding I recognized, but that’s all changed over the last year. Thank you, California!
What’s the latest thing you’ve tried that has expanded your mind and your tastebuds?