This post is inspired by a question that a terrific student in my food history class recently asked me. She said, “Ok, so now that I’ve learned more about the American food system and have been recognizing how removed we are from where our food comes from, what should I do about what and how I eat? How do I make more informed consumer decisions, buy fewer processed products, eat more healthily, and have more direct engagement with producers? Where should I begin?” Here are some of my thoughts in response to that question:
First, let me emphasize that it’s all a matter of degree. Don’t think about how to make your diet perfect tomorrow. Instead, adopt a growth mindset and think about how to head in the right direction. First learn to cook, even one or two simple plant-based, whole-food dishes at a time. A lot of my favorite meals are those you can do basically without a recipe, that work like a formula (meaning you can substitute in different vegetables/grains/sauces, depending on what you have on hand).
Some of my favorites are:
- Stir fry (like Brown Rice Stir Fry with Vegetables, Kale Stir fry with Crispy Curried Tofu, or Chickpea Stir Fry Bowl)
- Roasted vegetables + sauce + grain (like Roasted Rainbow Vegetable Bowl, Quinoa Harvest Bowl, or Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowls)
- Hearty salads with lots of protein goodies (like Vegetarian Italian Chopped Salad, Chopped Kale Power Salad with Lemon-Tahini Dressing, or Black Bean Taco Salad)
- Veggie chili (like 5-Ingredient Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili, Insanely Easy Vegetarian Chili, or Simple Veggie Chili)
Here a few other ideas and resources to help get you started:
- Some good blogs
- Leanne Brown’s Good and Cheap cookbook
- Free online cookbook that shows you how to cook on $4/day, plus has lots of good tips and ideas for getting started in the kitchen
- An NPR story on it
- Michael Pollan’s Food Rules.
- The whole book is worth reading, but here’s a quick version of the list.
- Some of my favorites:
- Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary human would keep in the pantry, or more than 5 ingredients
- If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.
- Eat mostly plants, especially leaves
- Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food; and when you do eat meat, eat animals that have themselves eaten well
- Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself
- The banquet is in the first bite
- Limit your snacks to unprocessed plant foods
- Treat treats as treats
- Plant a vegetable garden if you have space, a window box if you don’t
- “10 Steps to Starting a Daily Cooking Habit” article with some decent advice
- Take Extinction Off Your Plate Food Guide (thanks to @Maya4EJ)
- I especially like the sandwich and smoothie guides, because even if you just do a smoothie from here every day for breakfast and a sandwich from here every day for lunch, then you’re making a big impact, and only need to think about dinner.
Some suggestions of where to find local food in Stillwater, OK:
- Stillwater Farmers Market
- Stillwater Center for the Arts, 1001 S. Duck St. Saturdays only, 10 AM – 1 PM through March 31, and then 8 AM- 1 PM starting April 1.
- Additional Spring & Summer Location: Stillwater Medical Center (SMC), Located at 12th Street and Adams (1201 S Adams), from 5/1/18-9/24/18, Mondays 2:30 pm – 5 pm.
- Bootstrap Farm CSA share
- Sign up for a share of veggies in advance and get a delivery each week to downtown Stillwater
- Four Points farm
- Local ethical eggs and meat from a former OSU History major
- 1907 Meat Co.
- Locally-sourced meat
Let me know what other resources you all have to share!