Tuesday, June 7, 2016

How-To Manual: Eating Healthily, Ethically, and Cheap as a Student

This blog post is a practical response to an essay I wrote titled “Digging for Real Food as a Genetically Modified Consumer Culture.” I concluded that our modern food system – one of hyper-palatable edibles – leaves many consumers digging for authenticity by relaxing and redefining what constitutes ‘real food.’ We do this by making ‘real’ a factor of our relationship to food, less often a quality of the food itself. This relationship manifests itself through geography, emotions, cultural history, and our perception of simplicity. Respectively, these sound like: “it’s local,” or “it was cooked with love,” or “my grandma buys this ingredient,” or “it’s just a simple apple.” And, all of these are precursors to the idea “…so it MUST be healthy, right?”

Not necessarily. In reality, these factors do not inherently change a food. Yes, they contribute to the more ephemeral side of nourishment, but ultimately the ingredient remains the same. It might have been sprayed with pesticides, grown on land that practices mono-culture and clear-cut farming, and/or been transported by underpaid laborers.

How, as students, do we navigate this dilemma? How do we eat well, save the planet, save money, but avoid sounding like pretentious food yuppies? Moreover, why should we care? If you can sacrifice ten minutes to read below, you will discover the answer. Seven years of working at farmer's markets, restaurants, farms, and a cooking school has taught me much in the way of 'real.' My hope is that this can be a useful free resource to students who have the right intention but don't know where to start...