Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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New Year’s Eats: 10 resolutions to improve your relation to food

Though January is still a month away, it’s never too early to start thinking about the new year. With this fresh start in mind, there’s always room for improvement. Here are 10 ways to change up how you relate to food when 2013 comes around:

1. Eat local/regional foods and know where your food comes from. There are myriad reasons to become a “locavore.” Locally- or regionally-produced foods (those grown within 200 miles of you) are often more fresh and of better quality than those shipped in from around the world. You’ll also be supporting the local economy by investing money back into your community. The biggest reason to go local, though, is the massive cut in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Ten percent of all the energy we use is consumed by the food system (transportation, processing, storage, etc.), which is immensely reliant on fossil fuels. By eating locally-grown foods, you cut out a lot of these processes and their subsequent consequences. Farmers markets and community-supported agriculture (CSA) packages are great ways to break into the local food system. Don’t be discouraged by the winter months – farmers markets are still happening, including the Evanston Farmer & Artisan Food Market, which opens Dec. 1. And even if you can’t make such a huge change, at least start checking out the labels on your food, taking their origins into consideration and holding yourself accountable for where your food comes from.

2. Eating foods (especially fruits and veggies) that are in season. One great way to consume more locally and regionally produced foods is to eat what’s in season. Although our world has turned into an extensive global marketplace allowing you to buy ripe strawberries in March and baby asparagus in the dead of winter, these foods have to travel huge distances to make it from the farm to your fridge. On average, the components of your meal have traveled between 1,500 and 2,500 miles to reach your plate. That’s quite the commute. Making the effort to eat seasonal foods will reduce that distance and its associated environmental consequences while putting a fresher, less-processed product on your plate. You’ll also have an opportunity to work with fruits and veggies you may never have encountered. Broccoli and cauliflower are both great vegetables in season in January and February, and citrus fruits are ripe during winter as well.

3. Experiment with something new each week. I won’t lie. After eating black bean soup for lunch almost everyday this quarter, I’ve become a little bit sick of the stuff. Yes, it’s easy and certainly my go-to meal if I’m in a pinch, but people should never come to resent the food they eat simply out of over-consumption. This is where experimentation comes in. Try something new at least once a week, whether it’s a new spice, a strange vegetable you saw at the supermarket or just a differently shaped pasta from your normal macaroni elbow. The refreshing break from the usual will keep your appetite content and invested in what you’re putting into your body.

4. Eat sitting down at least once a day; savor your food. I’ll be the first to admit that the college lifestyle is not one attuned to a slow food way of eating. I myself am a repeat offender of walking down Sheridan with a yogurt and spoon. But eating on the go all the time can do a number on your body and on your wallet. If you make time to sit down for at least one meal each day, you’ll be much more conscious of what you’re consuming. The digestion process will also go more smoothly as a direct result of your relaxed posture and stomach – certainly a perk. While you’re at it, try to avoid the usual television or homework distractions. This will give you the opportunity to chat with folks you’ve been missing in your harried, post-secondary whirlwind, or simply a minute or two to reflect. You’ll also be able to actually enjoy the food you’re eating, something I consider to be one of life’s greatest pleasures.

5. Learn to like eggs. OK, this one’s personal. I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who have been on the egg train since birth, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s about time I clambered aboard. After an unfortunate experience with powdered eggs as a child, I told myself I’d never touch the stuff again, but I’ve begun to realize that I’m honestly missing out. Eggs are not only an amazing source of protein but can also be made in different ways. Omelettes, scrambled eggs, breakfast burritos, over-easy, on toast, on a bagel — the possibilities really are endless, and I’ve been ignoring them all this time. Pull yourself together, Vogt.

6. Plan ahead and prepare. As one of the sacred principles of Leave No Trace ideology, I’ve chiefly run into the “plan ahead and prepare” motto when it comes to packing weather-appropriate clothing and a topographical map. Yet, the same can be said for feeding yourself! I know we’ve all stood in the grocery store entrance, dumbfounded by the veritable smorgasbord of options presented to us, and without proper guidance, you may end up with a whole heck of a lot of components but no way to put them together. With this in mind, sit down for a second to make a list before even leaving the house. Maybe look up a recipe or two, take a peek inside your pantry or ask your roommate just how old that milk is. If you go in with a plan, you’ll find the grocery store to be much more of a treasure trove than a battleground. Side note: Never go grocery shopping hungry — it’s a recipe for disaster. Your eyes will always be bigger than your stomach, and you’ll end up buying those chocolate-covered toffee almonds you really don’t need.

7. Eat fewer processed foods. At the root of it, any food that has been physically or chemically altered is considered “processed,” and they come in all different forms, be it merely a can of corn that’s been preserved with a little salt or a Snickers bar made up of ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Though companies will advertise a greater level of nutrients in their processed products, these vitamins and minerals usually come from synthetic additives – ones our bodies have a tougher time absorbing. Processed foods almost always have more salt and fats than unprocessed foods do as well, not something I’m trying to have in my diet. Though it may be easier to grab that bag of fruit snacks or veggie chips, you’ll be selling yourself short in avoiding the real deal. Try to reduce the number of steps between the original state of your food and the form in which it appears on your plate. Your body will thank you.

8. Eat breakfast. It’s quite easy to take breakfast for granted, especially when you have a 9 a.m. class that’s a 15-minute walk from your house. Although you may be inclined to sleep until the very last second, throw on some clothes vaguely resembling an outfit and scramble out the door, you’re really not doing yourself any favors. You only get one start to your day each morning, and if you want to make the most of the time you’re awake, you need to set yourself up for success (i.e., eat breakfast). Putting something in your body before going out the door will give you the energy you need to get through the day and will go far in bolstering your concentration level. You’ll also be less likely to snack on foods high in sugars and fats if you curb your appetite before it rears its ugly head. For a healthy breakfast, combine two of the three following items: a bread or grain (cereal, toast), milk or milk product (low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk) and a fruit or vegetable. If you’re still worried about getting to class on time, pick up some portable breakfast foods the next time you’re at the grocery store. Fruits like apples or bananas, whole grain granola bars and yogurt cups are all quick and easy.

9. Share! You can’t deny that everyone has to eat. It’s a simple fact. With this in mind, sharing a meal with someone is a great way to kill two birds with one stone: Catch up with that friend you haven’t seen since she turned to the dark side (read: became pre-med) while filling up your stomach. Whether you go out, order in or whip something up yourselves, eating together will make the meal much more enjoyable for both of you. If you opt to cook something at home, make it a special occasion. Go for broke! Pick up that salmon fillet you’ve been eyeing but couldn’t justify buying for only yourself. We’ve all heard the speech about the importance of families sitting down at the table together, and I’m a firm believer that this holds true for any kind of relationship, whether it’s with your mom or the soulmate who doesn’t know he’s your soulmate yet. Eating at its best is a social act so call your friend, buy that salmon and make the most of your meal.

10. Be thankful for what you’ve been given. Whatever the situation, we are so incredibly lucky to be right where we are, and I don’t think we recognize just how privileged we are to have access to the food we do. Whether it’s a lobster tail or cup of Easy Mac, the ability to put food on your plate is an immense gift. I used to take a lot of things for granted, and I certainly still do in some respects, but I’ve had my eyes opened to the injustices so prevalent in our food system both globally and here in Chicago. Food is a human right, yet some people are deprived of that right every day. So if there’s one thing I’ve suggested here you decide to take to heart come 2013, let it be this: Cherish the food in front of you. It’s a blessing.

Bon appetit.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
New Year’s Eats: 10 resolutions to improve your relation to food