Essay: Healthy Food, Healthy Planet

While so far, Dinners With Dan has been recipe-heavy, food isn’t always just about recipes.  There’s a lot more to the culinary world than simply combining ingredients and making tasty dishes: where does the food you’re buying come from?  How was it grown or raised?  How do our food choices affect the environment?  The economy?  When it comes to eating, I feel there is a time for recipes, and also a place for reflection.

It’s with this in mind that I am excited to welcome you to a new aspect of Dinners With Dan.  Today’s blog post is brought to you by Molly, one of Dinners With Dan‘s new featured contributors and short essayists.  Molly will be contributing short essays to Dinners With Dan and I leave it to her to introduce herself and give you a preview of things to come.  I hope you enjoy her writing as much as I do.

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I love everything about food.  I love cooking it, eating it, shopping for it, learning to grow it, and sharing it with friends and family.  But more than anything, I care deeply about where food comes from and how it’s produced. I try to eat naturally as often as I can and make meals mostly of whole, unprocessed foods (although I do have a huge sweet tooth!).  I was taught the importance of healthy, natural eating from a young age and was an early lover of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and other veggies.  I even got used to eating my sandwiches on what my family not-so-fondly referred to as “dirt bread”—a heavy, course, dark, whole-wheat bread that looked a lot like dirt.  It was the kind of food that gives a bad name to the type of hippie-crunchy whole foods store where we purchased it, back in days before Whole Foods became mainstream.  While we still had our not-so-healthy meals, like soda and pizza on Friday nights, we did our best to eat naturally most of the time.

My family’s eating habits came not only from caring about our own health, but also about the health of the planet.  Food production is extremely resource-intensive, using enormous quantities of water, energy, land, and chemicals at every stage of production.  This is especially true of the highly processed foods full of artificial ingredients that make up the Standard American Diet (appropriately abbreviated as SAD).  While it can be challenging to incorporate healthier foods into your diet, it’s important to know where your food is coming from and be conscientious in the choices that you make. Whether we’re aware of it or not, everything we eat has tremendous consequences for the earth.  Making just small changes in your meals and being a bit more aware of where your food comes from can really make a difference.

Luckily, the foods that are healthiest for your body are usually the healthiest for the planet!  Through Dinners With Dan, I’ll not only explore different ways our food choices intersect with the environment, but I’ll also discuss topics including what to consider when shopping local and organic, how meat is produced, how to combat our vast amount of food waste, and how you can compost even in a small yard.  I’ll also give tips on how your eating choices can help the earth!

In the meantime, if you’re feeling inspired and want to make a positive change in your eating habits, I encourage you to sign up for October Unprocessed, an annual challenge to remove processed food from your diet.  I didn’t participate in the challenge last year, but I followed along and got lots of delicious recipes and tips on how to eat healthier.  I’ll be attempting the challenge this year and will discuss my progress here, and I encourage you to join me to take a step toward making your diet a little more natural—for both you and the earth!

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Thank you so much, Molly!  I can’t wait to read more of your essays!

Until next time, happy cooking!

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