I think about food all day long. The first thought that pops into my head in the morning is usually “What breakfast ingredients do I have?” and the answer to that question affects how quickly I get out of bed. Some of this daily food obsession has to do with my young family needing to be fed multiple times throughout the day, but most of it is because I simply love to eat.
That’s where it gets more complicated, though. I’m not a picky eater in the classic sense of the term, nor do I subscribe to a diet that limits what foods I can eat. Instead, I’ve become picky about the quality of my food. In a great article called “If you need to label me,” Lisa Borden writes about the guiding principles by which she eats. After reading her list, I decided to come up with the ‘food rules’ that define my personal approach to food. (There is some overlap because her guidelines are just so sensible.)
1. Farmers first, supermarket second
Eating food that’s grown or raised as close to home as possible is my top priority. I’m lucky to live in a rural setting surrounded by farms that can supply me with fruit, vegetables, eggs, honey, and meat. After I’ve picked up those ingredients, I head to the supermarket for whatever extras can’t be sourced locally.
2. I prefer organic, but…
Organic food is ideal, but I’ve come to believe that local is even more important. My CSA (community supported agriculture) share is 100% organic and non-GMO, and it provides the majority of vegetables I eat, but all the other organic produce at the grocery store is imported from California. (That’s really far from my home in Ontario, Canada.) I prefer to buy from local farmers while advocating for more organic farming in my area.
3. I want to feel healthy.
I’ve got this body for the rest of my life, so I want to treat it as well as possible. I opt for less processed, more wholesome ingredients such as brown rice, whole wheat flour, sweet potatoes, and natural sweeteners over their more commonly used counterparts. You won’t find any snack foods in my house because everything is made from scratch. It helps that I was raised that way, so it’s more innate than a conscious choice.
4. I eat whatever I want.
There’s nothing I do not eat. While I’ve adopted aspects of the Paleo diet and weekday vegetarianism into my eating habits at home, I still value being able to eat grains, dairy, meat, sugar and fat when I want to and when they are offered to me. Occasional late-night baking is a habit I can live with.
5. I eat for a sense of community.
Family meal time happens every night. I am motivated to prepare delicious food by knowing that my husband and two children will sit down to share it with me. I also love to cook and bake for friends who stop by for visits. Food is a fabulous social connector.
I’m aware these guidelines may not work for everyone, but they have helped transform me from a passive food consumer to an active, engaged eater. That can’t help but make every meal taste better.