Monday, October 25, 2010

My Well-Fed Life

A number of years ago I came across a book that changed the way I looked at and felt about reading forever. It was Steve Leveen's "The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life." This book instantly caught my eye in my local Barnes and Noble because, as a voracious reader I have always sought after that esteemed title of "well-read." Over the years, however, it seemed that this was becoming more and more an insurmountable task - between the countless classics I had yet to read and the litany of best sellers and new classics being published week after week I felt stymied. Leveen's book, a guide, was exactly what I needed, I thought, to finally win the battle against my "to-read" list. What I found inside was not a step-by-step guide to getting to the end of the "well-read" rainbow, but, instead it was a fabulous book about letting that nightmare go and, instead embracing a well-read life in my own style - deciding for myself what my classics would be, what I thought should be on the best seller's list, reading at my own pace, in my own medium (he agreed that audio books were an acceptable form of "reading") and my relationships with my books should be personal. This may all seem obvious to you, but for me, at the time, it was a lesson I had not yet learned.

As of late I have found myself in nearly the same state of quandary about my eating as I once did about reading. I would like to eat "right" as they say, and I am beginning to finally think that the best way to do that is to live My Well-Fed Life. I have to decide what foods I want to bring to my table, and because this is my well-fed life, I need to think about what things are important to me in that quest. Here are five broad criteria that I have currently been using in building MY well-fed life:


Over the last couple of years, as reflected in this blog, a major factor in my personal food decisions has been based on their impact on the environment, on animals, on the industry and on the global and local community. This is the most difficult part of my eating since I am learning new things every single day that cause me to have to search for a new product or company to endorse.


Due to my medical conditions, I have to be very careful of the foods that I eat. I know now of two food "groups" to avoid all together (gluten and dairy) that were evidently aggravating my system more than I realized. Knowing about these "illegal" foods has been a great help to my health, but dramatically changed what I thought my well-fed life was. In addition to the subtractions of these two food-types, I also like to pay attention to GMOs, organic foods and buying fresh whenever possible for the sake of my health and my husband's health.


I am being quite deceitful by putting this criteria third, because in my well-fed life (as I am sure in most everyone's), if a food does not satiate my taste buds it is off my shopping list. Let's be honest, no matter how good it is for me or my planet, if I don't like the way it tastes, I am not going to eat it - EVER.


Sad, but true, for the most part I am not one who likes to spend hours upon hours constructing a meal that will take a fraction of that time to consume. I need to be realistic in my searches for foods that fit my life - can I get them with a quick trip here or there? Can I prepare these foods with the tools I have in my kitchen? If not, is it worth the investment to get those tools, or am I, realistically only going to cook this once? Do I have foods planned that are easy enough to cook that I can do so even if I am having a sick day?


Especially now, while I am on medical leave from my full-time job, I can not afford to overspend on food. However, it should not be overlooked that in my ranking of priority, this criteria squeaked onto the list in last place.

I think it is really important for everyone, especially those who do the food purchasing for the home, to develop their own personal well-fed guidelines. Of course, I believe health should be on everyone's list, and in this climate I think you would be remiss to exclude "impact" (no one will do this one for you!), but in the end, the point of this posting is that this is something you must determine for yourself.

I have only one bit of advice:  

My hand was pretty much forced into this one with my food restrictions and my own conscience about my impact on the planet - I suddenly found myself asking, "What can I eat?" and the list was filled with strange foods I had never eaten or prepared before... I was terrified. My husband was empathetic, but grateful that, if need be he could still sneak back into the world of dairy and gluten. However, we bravely stepped out and starting trying things (we know, for sure, my mother is doing cartwheels in heaven - all she EVER wanted us both to do was TRY NEW THINGS, but we always resisted!), and we found a bunch of new things that we really, really like. Of course, not everything was fantastic, but there were a heck of a lot more wins than losses.

Good luck, good eating and I hope you find as much joy in your well-fed life as we have been finding in ours!

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