The truth is, most people need to make major shifts in their lives to achieve and sustain the wealth of potential benefits from moving more and eating well.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things we do are things that we need to do.
Maybe you pay for cable TV, or buy a soda every day from the vending machine, or get lunch in the cafeteria a few times per week. Maybe you spend a mindless fifteen minutes checking Facebook in the morning, or stay up a little too late playing candy crush, or watch a few hours of TV at night. These things are part of your days, yet you may decide you don’t have the money or the time for healthy cooking. Did you know that Americans spend 6% of our income on food? That’s nothing! In France, it’s 14%. Maybe we need to reconsider how much relative value we place on quality food. It astounds me that patients of mine will consent to pay $50 a month for a prescription drug, but they balk if I suggest they put some more spinach in their grocery cart.
When I think about whether there was a tipping point to when I became really interested in healthy, plant-based eating, it was joining a Community Supported Agriculture program. First in Philly, and later, in Tucson, and then in Tucson again. In CSAs, you pay up front (sometimes in installments) for a season’s worth of produce. Then, every week, you pick up a box from the farm— sometimes at markets, or other designated community locations that are easily accessible. You get whatever they grew that week. Some also offer eggs or even meat. We’ve had CSA shares on and off for years, and even when we aren’t currently getting that weekly box of awesome, the lessons of the CSA stay with me.
Why did the CSA help so much? I learned to prepare kohlrabi, and different varieties of kale, and salad turnips. I learned what to make with unstoppable eggplant and jimmy nardello peppers. I learned that I like fennel, and that I like beets sometimes. I learned you can eat sweet potato greens and make pesto out of pea shoots. I learned it’s OK to try something and not love it. i learned that it’s super fun to recognize season changes in what you get from the farm, even when the weather doesn’t seem to have that satisfying shift. I learned how to store veggies. I learned that it takes some planning to use that many vegetables! If you’re anything like me, wasting food drives you nuts, so you have to learn to use what you’ve got!