I know the title is rather ominous but I’ve been debating how to approach this topic for a while and I don’t think there’s any way to do it other than tackle it head on. So here it goes, today’s post launches our series about FOOD.
Food can be a controversial topic, pricklier than a prickly pear (I am so sorry but once I got that line in my head, there was no going back). No one likes to be judged for what they’re eating and sometimes the language surrounding dietary choices can be, well, barbed to say the least. So before we begin, I want to be perfectly clear that I’m not advocating for one particular type of diet over another.
I’m not here to tell you what you should and should not eat because I’m not a registered nutritionist or dietitian and more importantly, I don’t want to do that. I understand that we all have different relationships with food, and our dietary choices are informed by a host of factors so it’s not fair or kind of me to say that what you’re eating is right or wrong. What I do want to do is have a conversation about food and its relationship with our health and the environment. While I won’t try to persuade you to ditch your current foods for something you’re not comfortable with, I’d like to better understand those decisions and encourage options for good health. The key, as always, is respect.
Anyway, to start things off I suppose I’ll delve a bit into my own choices and decisions. From as far back as I can remember, my family has been environmentally conscious and has habitually tried to reduce our environmental impact through practices such as recycling, composting, and growing our own food. I grew up in a suburb so it wasn’t possible to farm food on any large scale but as kids, whether it was at my parents’ home or my grandmother’s, someone was always growing something and I loved it. Usually our gardens involved some combination of beans, squash, tomatoes, and cucumbers but no matter the crop, those early years and learning instilled a deep appreciation for food into me. I saw where things came from and how much work was involved so I cared what I ate. To be fair, I’m also generally a pig and love the ritual of preparing and eating food together, which is something we can get into at another time, but the point is that knowing what I was eating became an important facet of my enjoyment of food. This love has continued on with me into adulthood. While D and I periodically indulge in treats such as meat and dairy, the majority of our diet is plant-based and we make this conscious decision for a number of reasons.
The first is simply that I enjoy eating vegetables and fruit. I think the food is beautiful and it’s a joy to walk through the produce aisle and learn about new varieties of vegetables, exploring different options for preparation in the process. Cooking with fruits and vegetables challenges me to be creative and pushes me to create texture and flavour in new ways, which can be hard but also fun. I’ve had so many disasters (hello chilled avocado soup!) but I’ve also discovered some favourites as a result.
Moreover, fruits and vegetables are easier on the environment. Again, I’m not here to shame anyone on their food choices but the reality is that commercial farming for meat and dairy takes a heavy toll, whereas some fruits and vegetables have less of an impact and can be accessed quite easily, particularly in the summer months when many crops are in season. Not everyone has the time or resources to go to a farmer’s market but if you can, do it! It’s fun and provides an educational experience that allows you to better understand where your food comes from.
Furthermore, and this might seem obvious but fruits and vegetable supply us with a wide array of vitamins and nutrients that contribute to good health. Unfortunately, fewer Canadians are getting their recommended daily servings of vegetables and fruits and this can lead to long term health issues including obesity, heart disease, and cancer. A campaign called Half Your Plate is trying to reverse that trend and the project encourages Canadians to incorporate more vegetables and fruits into their diet by providing meal planning and preparation resources.
Finally, the reason I work hard to incorporate vegetable and fruit into my diet is found in the mandate of this blog and that is to advocate for healthier decisions to help minimize the risk of cancer. Having and maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the ways in which we can reduce the risk of disease and eating meals primarily comprised of fruits and vegetables is one great way to achieve this goal. Even though healthy eating has always been important to me, it’s become increasingly more necessary in light of recent events. Keeping myself healthy in any way possible has become a priority and I would encourage you to do the same. I’ll be the first to admit that my eating habits are far from perfect: my meals aren’t always balanced, I eat junk food, and dining out happens more frequently than it should but I’m gradually making a shift. However small the changes may be, however insignificant it may seem, it all adds up in the end.
So I guess that’s my story so far and through this series I hope to learn more about food, your dietary choices, and what we can do to better our health and environment. As usual, I haven’t really planned out the structure of this series but I do hope you’ll come along for the ride.