Saturday, January 3, 2009

Road Food.... Yikes!

Well Rebecca and I spent a week at a dance camp after Christmas and let me tell you.. I just know too much about food.. Usually I relish to opportunity to have a week off from cooking and thinking about what to cook and having someone else deal with all of that and serve me and clean up afterwards... BUT it seems that is not the case anymore!
After reading Michael Pollan's book, The Omnivore's Dilemma, I have dramatically changed the way that I shop for food. I pay even closer attention to the labels, what the ingredients are and where the food comes from. I buy less and less processed products... Fresh food plus staples. We make most stuff from scratch. Eat food grown in our garden and buy local whenever possible. Often, I opt out of buying something because it was grown too far way or is too processed or has too many additives. I shop with a list of which vegetables and fruit have lower rates of pesticide residue. I buy organic whenever I can. I also shop with my "The Better World Shopping Guide" and make choices knowing that every dollar I spend is a vote for the business and farming practices followed by the companies that I chose to buy from.
So to spend a week eating food service fare, I had to change my food focus. Usually, I love to eat. I live to eat! I love food and the process of making food, growing food and the stories that the food brings to the table. But for the week at camp, I had to simply eat to live. It was just fuel. But really not the best quality of fuel.
We had lots of noodle dishes sometimes a pasta dish with a side of pasta. Yikes! Very little fresh vegetables (well there was fresh broccoli one day and that was really it). The fruit was fruit salad out of a can with lots of syrup. The first night.. dessert was green jello with large marshmellows. Amazing! I would have given my kingdom for a piece of fresh fruit! I ate what I could... but dreamed of my own cooking!
But I guess the real question is how do you eat well when you are on the road?? As far as I can tell, the best solution is to bring your own food. I find that packing from home for the trip is easy enough... but then the way home is harder to manage...
When packing your own food is not possible what do you do? I say it has to be a matter of picking the lesser of the evils! Choose the fresh vegetables and fruits and stay away from the more processed foods.
Ah... it is good to be home. Tonight's dinner: home made turkey stew with home made corn dodgers on the side! Homemade apple sauce.


Patrice Farmer said...

Good for you. I too have been doing that and I am seeing that my health has improved. Good job!

San Diego Farmgirl said...

Oh, gosh, I traveled 3 weeks out of the month for 5 years, eating as a vegan. NOT EASY! I was lucky enough to usually spend a few days in the same place, so I'd always reserve one of those long-term-stay hotels with a kitchen, and hit a nearby grocery first thing and stock up. There are also healthy options in airports, believe it or not, you just have to poke around a bit. The easiest way is to ask an airport worker who looks healthy, fit and happy. They'll point you to the good salad place.

However, quite often I would wake early and prepare a large, healthy breakfast in my room, and then starve until I returned later that day. Once you've read books like Omnivore's Dilemma, you realize that oftentimes, you're better off doing without than eating non-food!

Sometimes those hotels that offer the free breakfast buffet have fruit you can take with you. Most have little individual sized peanut butter packets, and I'd take a couple of those and an apple with me for the day.

But you're right - no place like home, and no better food than the things you grow and prepare yourself! I'm with ya!

monicarose said...

What are corn dodgers??? : )

Global Patriot said...

Traveling is the hardest when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. At least I'm seeing more "fast food" places that are offering salads and blended fruit drinks.

While you're not always aware of the source for these items, at least they are processed much less that cooked foods in restaurants.

Another option is finding stores like Whole Foods that have a good selection of prepared foods, sometimes organic, that can be purchased and taken back to the hotel room.

As to airports and airplanes, good luck!

Simple Sam said...

Traveling and eating the way we want and need to has become such a hassle. We just spent 4 days at Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge this week and here's what we did: breakfast was free at the hotel, so we ate instant oatmeal and juice each morning. We brought homemade hummus, pitas, nuts, fresh fruit and soymilk from home to store in the in room frig. Supper was a 'hunt' for the best things we could find. We're vegetarians, so we finally settled on a buffet that had salad fixin's, fruits and lots of veggies 'sides'. Was it local? Hell no, but it was the best we could do, and I do believe Beth, that's all any of us can do. By eating the new ways we're all learning, 95% of the time, you just can't beat yourself up about that other 5%. Thanks for sharing your comments and thoughts on these 'dilemmas'... Sam in Jonesborough

Kristin said...

Beth, I must say you are one of my favorite Ashevillans, and certainly my FAVORITE contra caller!!!

I have this same problem when I travel home to Iowa, and it's worse when it's my family that is preparing and serving the food. It's a midwest thing I guess to cook with very few fresh ingredients, and I feel like my family is more health-conscious than most others in the area. It was worst for me when my mother was cooking green beans and wanted to slather them in cream of mushroom soup to make a "casserole". I kindly requested to have "naked" beans.

Also, the difficulty of finding organically grown produce in the midwest and other areas of the country is really frustrating. I went to 5 different stores before I was able to locate ANY kale or collards (my favorites). I often take a bag of carrots or something along on the road, and eat them all the while I am home for snacks.

All this just makes me appreciate my lovely Asheville and my sunny kitchen all the more. I'm so glad to be home!! Hope you and Rebecca are well.

AnneMarie said...

I attended the same dance event and the food was ...well...oh never mind!

The upside was that I was never tempted to overeat! The place does have a fine workout facility, so I came home with a good start on removing the holiday fare that was fabulous! Homemade ravioli and biscotti! Who needs Jello?