Since I started this blog, cooking, photographing and describing dishes, or selecting topics to for the tip of the day I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with food, but also about what goals I set to myself and to my work around food.
Today, I think I have a much clearer idea of what I had when I started, and I took the decision to give a clear direction to my work, summarized with two inextricably linked hashtags: #eatrealfood and #savourealife
The meaning of these two complementary conceips is that we need to eat better, to re-establish a correct and respectful relationship with our body, with the environment and with the people we love.
It may seem a statement of intent. It may seam difficult to put into practice, and so complex to be almost empty of concrete meaning. For me, eating real food, savoring real life has meant giving a serious change to my living habits. So, let me explain better.
Let’s start from my professional experience… As many of you already know I’ve been working, as a marketing officer in the pharmaceutical industry, I took care of many food supplements and I belong, in Italy , to a group of experts in food labeling.
Professionally speaking, I’m aware that in Italy, and in Europe, more than 2.500 food additives such as preservatives, flavorings, colors, flavor enhancer and stabilizers are added to our ready-made foods. I’m not talking just about what we usually call junk food: there are many ready-made food that we buy at the supermarkets that seam to be healthy and simple but are literary junk foods on disguise.
Even the simplest foods, such as bread, pizza, cookies, when bought ready-made, industrially produced, contain dozens of ingredients that their homemade counterparts do not contain. Go check in the cupboard, please! Grab a box of cookies, or a piece of bread and count how many ingredients are listed in the label. Than compare this number with the ingredient list of and home-made recipe: do you realize how serious is the adulteration of common foods? Ok, then, keep calm and say I’m right!
We might ask ourself the question “what do they give us to eat and why?”
Some food additives are used to preserve foodies that should be better consumed fresh. Others are used to give food a more pleasing appearance and color, others to reduce the costs of food processing that’d need a more accurate machining. Finally, many additives are used to cover those deficiencies in taste or in quality that staple ingredients might have. Are all of these additives are truly harmful? Nope, it’s not going to be me the source of a foolish scaremongering! However, even when not harmful, they can be avoided, at least because these are substances that the industry needs but we can do without!
Eating real food does not mean giving up particular categories of ingredients: real food means just products of nature rather than products of industry.
Eating real food, does not necessarily mean eating only organic food, as well as not always organic food is real food..
When we talk about real food, we talk about a huge variety of natural ingredients such as fruits and vegetables, dairy products, whole-wheat and whole-grains, seafood (wild caught, over farm-raised), locally raised meats, water, coffee, tea, and -to keep the troops’ morale high- wine and beer!
We do not need to get rid of any food category, just buy raw ingredients and prepare our foodies at home, in the most traditional way, using fresh and natural ingredients, choosing carefully the places where we buy, selecting only trustworthy suppliers, and asking precise informations about the products’ origin.
Be aware of those who say , “I have kept aside this especially for you, Madam!” or… “This is something we reserve only for our customers.” It’s a cheap poulterer trick! Having different class of clients, means having different quality products: it’s not serious, indeed. A butcher might offer good, safe, real meat to everybody! Quality MUST be a standard, not standardized! Beware of these dodgers, please!
I know that buying and cooking real food is really time spending: I am a working mother of two, I’m always in a hurry, and for sure I do not have time to waste on trivial… (sometimes, I know, is just hard to go to take a bath… let alone bake bread at home!).
It’s not just a question of managing our time better: this is where you need to go a step further. Eating better is just a piece of process that can lead us re-establish a better relationship with ourselves, with the others , with the environment. Savor and enjoy real life: by taking time to do the right things, just in the way they should be done. Nothing more, nothing less.
Now, if you feel sad or frightened, overwhelmed by the changes that eating real food will require do not worry: every wonderful thing brings souls into the turmoil, for a while.
But then it pay us forward. Widely.
Food must be a priority, and it is… although we did not realize it!
For some people food is only nourishment, a basic human need, that they would rather give up: I know a couple of persons (one is my mum) that wish they could feed on capsules as astronauts, just to save time…
I know others (my dad, for instance), whose life revolves around food and whose first thought in the morning is what to eat today. Food for them is a paramount pleasure.
For everybody food might be a human right, but for too much is still a luxury. For others is a discomfort (just think of those who suffer from eating disorders, for example).
In any case for no human being food is an irrelevant factor. Food is something that we all need, for a living. Food can improve or spoilt our health. Food can reveal our social status, our culture, our origins, our mood.
Food is extremely important to all humanity, to each of us.
What is food for you?
For the king of asparagus food is conviviality, a way to enjoy company and keep people together. To me, food has always beeb an act of love: when I cook I take care of the person I love, and I give myself time to do things slowly, just as they should be done.
That’s why real food and real life are inextricably linked to me.
If you think that my vision of food as love is too romantic, you aint seen nothing yet!
Since I started my farming adventure, the word I heard most often is “life”. Everything in the countryside is lively or living, even weeds! Farming is turning a seed into life, and feed those who will eat the fruits of our labor. It’s simple, it’s magic, it’s romantic, it’s just the most natural dimension of the universe.
Food is treated as a commodity in today’s industrial food system, but real food is not a commodity: real food is love, conviviality, human work, and also and above all FOOD IS LIFE.
That’s why I think that our relationship with food must be re-conceived in the transition toward a more sustainable word, that needs to involve all the food system, starting from how do we eat daily. A fairer system for farmers and eaters (that shan’t be considered consumers anymore).
It’s a huge change, a change that will have enormous ethical, economic, time, nutritional and life implications for anyone who embraces it. A change that can lead to bigger chances around any of us. A change in the direction of savoring real life.
These are just some of the key reasons why I recommend you avoiding most of the processed foods and cook, cook, cook using raw ingredients and real food.
Cook real food, as much as you can. Not just because you have to: cook for those you love, be inspired by your curiosity, explore farmer’s market, spend more than a sunday adventuring on a food trip in the countryside. Be cheerful! Stay together! Savour real life! And don’t forget cooking real food is the best form of revolt that you have!