There are a lot of philosophies about food after there. Lots of different diet plans and nutritional advice and get-thin-quick nonsense. My philosophies are simple:
1. Everything in moderation.
2 Eat food, mostly plants. (thanks, Michael Pollan)
3. Eat in season and local/regional when you can.
4. Don’t eat any junk food you don’t make yourself (another Pollan piece of advice).
5. Buy fresh.
6. Cook from scratch.
7. Get moving every day.
If you think about it, those are food philosophies deeply rooted in rural food. In farm food. In food you grow yourself or that your neighbor grows or that grows in your community.
I grew up in a time when fat was (and still is) vilified and convenience food was at its height. I was lucky enough to have a mom who could afford to stay at home and take care of my sister and I and also gave her time and resources to cook us decent hot meals nearly every night. So we had family dinner every night, for which I’m very grateful because it really allowed us family time every day. However, even my mom was influenced by the food ideas of the time. We ate margarine instead of butter, and we ate a lot of Hamburger Helper and casseroles (or hotdishes, as they’re called in the Midwest), although my mom always threw in at least one kind of vegetable in an effort to get us to eat healthier.
But now my philosophies have changed. Despite a serious sweet tooth, I try to eat more vegetables than meat and while I still eat sweets, I try to eat fewer of them. And I try not to eat sweets I didn’t make myself. I don’t vilify fat anymore. In fact, I eat way more frequently than I did growing up, but because I try to cook at home as much as possible, and I do use a lot of butter and cheese and sour cream and olive oil in my cooking (although generally not all at once). I do try to avoid baked goods recipes that include more than a stick of butter, though. Which is why, despite my love of homemade pound cake (I refuse to buy the store-bought kind), I never make it myself.
I’m really mostly interested in farm food. Farm food tends to use a lot of dairy and eggs and a lot of vegetables and some fruit and bread and not so much meat. Which is kind of what I eat anyway. Yes, I have a serious addiction to breakfast cereals and ice cream. But I also am madly in love with green beans and radishes with salt and yellow summer squash with mustard. And don’t even get me started on fruit. Apples, pears, pit fruit, berries, I love them all. Bananas and oranges and tropical fruits? Sure, I enjoy them every once in a while, but they’re not my favorite because I can’t get local ones and the imported kind are never as good.
And the get moving part? I used to be a complete couch potato. I still kind of am, but that’s more because I have a stressful job and no time, not for lack of wanting to get moving. I’m lucky to have a boyfriend who loves hiking and going for long walks and swims just as much as I do. We like to go out and DO things, even if it’s just to walk around town in the evenings. Hauling laundry and groceries up and down three flights of stairs and walking to and from the laundromat doesn’t hurt either.
I’m not skinny, I’m not a health guru or a nutritionist, I don’t have a PhD in anything (not yet, anyway). But eating a wide variety of food, focusing on local and seasonal fruits and vegetables, eating less meat, and exercising more, makes me feel good. Which is probably why I have a giant collection of vintage and farm-based cookbooks. I’m always striving to find new and delicious ways to eat different vegetables. And I’m lucky enough to live in an area (the Hudson River Valley) where fresh, local fruits and vegetables of great variety are readily available to most people.
So that’s my philosophy. Sort of. It has served me well so far.