Taking on Grist’s The Ultimate No-Processed-Food Challenge
I still haven’t gotten over Valerie Segrest’s eye opening Traditional Food Principles, and had in fact chewed over it (pun intended) for more than a week. Consequently, my antenna was more than a little sensitive for more wisdom and insights about how we approach food and eating. But what I discovered this time was a challenge: Grist’s Resisting Temptations: Grist’s The Ultimate No-Processed-Food Challenge. Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan throws out five challenges (Road Trips, restaurants, Dinner Parties, Desserts, and Backpacking Trips) to the sworn no-processed-foods eater. These, according to Elisabeth, are the true tests for our healthy eating convictions.
“But what about those times when you couldn’t plan ahead? What about when you’re at the mercy of another cook? (You’re putting Fritos on the chili? Nooooo!) What about when you’re really hungry, and your only option for miles is a mini-mart overflowing with cheese dogs and Ruffles? Those, my friends, are the true crucibles for the unprocessed eater.”
Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan on Grist
Anyone up for the challenge?
First, let me start by clarifying one thing: I am a processed foods junkie. My natural low appetite and yuppie lifestyle has done nothing to help my increasing dependence on readily available processed foods as I rushed from one activity to another. Only a recent increase in my awareness of healthy eating and lifestyle has forced me to stop and re-assess my admittedly less-than-stellar eating habits.
It’s a good thing that I live in an area where there are still many alternatives to processed foods. Local food culture in my city is thriving and has been supported by the local government and market for many years. Fresh fruit and vegetables arrive in season from local plantations and farms not too far away. It is not uncommon to drive down the national highway and pass stands offering newly harvested mangoes, sweet corn, and fresh crabs all on the same stretch. I’m glad to see many traditional foods surviving the onslaught of modern supermarkets and high end restaurants so far.
Yet even for an area with a strong local food culture, I among many still find it hard to overcome the processed foods temptation, especially when inside urban centers. I’m grateful to Grist’s Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan for throwing out this challenge to me as it made me think about my food choices and take up the challenge of overcoming unhealthy eating habits.
Here are my answers to Grist’s The Ultimate No-Processed-Food Challenge.
If you can pick out food stops with food joints that offer whole and unprocessed foods, that would be great. However, this is often the exception rather than the rule. Therefore it seems more practical to plan ahead and prepare your own snacks and meals for a long road trip.
Kimbaps One food that I would prepare for my next long road trip is my own version of kimbap, a Korean dish. It has highly nutritious seafood and vegetables, and you can basically use any meat that goes with your taste – fish, seafood, chicken, etc. Rice is a natural long-lasting whole food, and the sticky Japanese rice I use keeps very well. Another thing I like about kimbaps is you can store them very neatly in just about any handy food container you have in your home. Their compact size also makes it easy to pack a few dozen in a small storage space, and maximizing space when you’re traveling in a limited vehicle over long distances is a must. Also, I like the fact they make no mess at all – no packaging, no leftover peelings, no stray wishbones. Finally, kimbaps are bite-sized meals in themselves – you can eat them on their own or with another dish. All these advantages make kimbaps ideal for long road trips and backpacking trips or hikes as well.
Because I am not the one preparing my food when I eat in restaurants, I choose to take things philosophically. I’d rather avoid eating out when I can and plan meals I like at home to help get me through those tempting moments when it’s past dinner time and I’m still making my way home.
However, if it’s a special occasion or if I’m eating out with friends, I’d rather enjoy the occasion and company than split hairs about details. What I would do is make the best of it by choosing dishes with a fair amount of whole foods or a minimum amount of processed foods in them. I could also suggest restaurants with tried-and-true menus offering whole food meals and dishes when eating out with company.
Read the rest of part two of my take on the Grist Food Challenge HERE.
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