In today’s world we can buy anything we want at anytime. There’s an abundance of choice. Strawberries in winter, super foods and exotic fruits and veggies flown in from faraway countries. We have it all. Isn’t it nice sometimes to return to simplicity, to a more simple life? Although I love my super foods and exotic products like coconut juice and durian and I don’t with to be without them anymore, I do notice a need to return to simplicity in the way I prepare and connect to the food I eat.
I used to go crazy in the kitchen and use super foods and exotic ingredients in a lot of my recipes. I added spirulina, chia seeds and coconut vinegar to my salads, maca and cacao nibs to my smoothies; I used coconut oil for frying my veggies. And although I will continue to use these products occasionally, I do feel a strong desire to move away from them and re-focus instead on simplicity, in my food preparation and in the ingredients I use. I want to go back to tasting the real flavors of the beautiful local fresh produce I use.
Going local is becoming more important to me as it just makes so much sense. I am also concerned about my carbon footprint and how my actions influence the health of our planet. It does not make any sense to me trying to live a sustainable life to buy exotic fruits and veggies that are flown in from far away. What we eat can be a great opportunity to make a difference. By choosing to eat local foods three times a day you lower your carbon footprint. It feels good to buy local and support local organic farms.
Local, seasonal foods are also much higher in nutrients than foods that are flown in from afar. Foods that are at the peak of their season are naturally rich in nutrients and in flavor. What your body needs varies with the seasons. In summer I eat lighter foods, like salads and fruit, and it make me feel naturally lighter. In winter my body needs heavier soups and stews to keep me warm and grounded. I also love cooking with the seasons because it connects me to the food I eat and makes me aware of where my food comes from. It connects me to nature, creates more balance in my body and gives me a deeper experience of the change of the seasons and the cycle of life.
There’s something exciting about going to our local, organic shop and to discover what the harvest has brought in. Our shop has only have a small selection of fruits and veggies but every time I go there’s a different selection and there are always some surprising ingredients to play around with in my cooking. Don’t go there with a shopping list because they might not have the ingredients you are looking for. One week they have pears and then for weeks you won’t find any. You won’t find any exotic fruits either, like durian or mango, or fruits and veggies that are out of season, like strawberries in winter. They simply sell what the land brings in. I even quit making shopping lists. I simply buy the most beautiful produce on display and work with that.
Most of us have lost that deep connection to food, to the seasons and to the origin of our food. When you go to one of the bigger commercial supermarket, you can buy tomatoes, mango, and strawberries all year round, even if they are not in season. And often you don’t even get to see your fruit and veggies in their full glory. Red beets come cleaned, peeled and pre-cooked and wrapped in plastic instead of covered with sand and the beet greens still on. Most green leafy vegetables you can buy are pre-cut, washed and sold in plastic bags. I rarely see a head of lettuce in the big supermarkets these days.
When I am travelling, the foods I appreciate most are the simple local dishes that use beautiful local, fresh produce and celebrate the natural flavours of the products used. Simple food does not need to be dull. Less is definitely more when you go local. A Greek salad with cucumber, beautiful sweet ripe tomatoes and olive oil is super delicious. An Italian salad with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil with a good quality olive oil is to die for. Caramelised roasted veggies in the oven or quickly grilled veggies can be a mouthwatering delicacy. A few fresh herbs, some freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of sea salt. Delicious!
I want to know where my foods come from and I want to buy them in their natural form. I don’t want any plastic wraps around my foods; I don’t want foods that are genetically modified or foods that contain pesticides like Roundup. I want to go back to simplicity, to honest flavors and only use fresh, local and clean ingredients. The Italians and Greeks have made an art of creating simple foods full of flavor using only a few locally sourced ingredients. When you use the freshest ingredients possible, you don’t need to add flavor or extra nutrients. When you follow the seasons, use clean produce and eat locally, less truly is more.