Don’t you just love it when someone does work for you? That’s exactly what happened for me this week when Mark Bittman wrote an Op-Ed in the NYTimes titled “Rethinking The Word ‘Foodie.’” I was planning to write my first “Food For Thought”(FFT) post on this very subject and an excellent, much esteemed food writer wrote it for me instead – Thanks Mr. Bittman! To summarize, in his Op-Ed, Bittman expresses hope that the term “foodie” can evolve beyond epicurean enjoyment of food and include a thoughtfulness related to where food comes from, how it got to our plate, and where it goes. That is really what Impatient Foodie is all about.
I also wanted my first FFT post to explain how my foodie journey came to be, because I certainly was not always like this (not at ALL!) And for me to be here now, writing this, thinking about my very own food site is surprising, especially to me. So, here’s my foodie story:
My love affair with food started relatively recently, inspired by my Masters studies at the London School of Economics. I went into my program with a lot of big ideas about the world and my place in it. I wanted to learn about human health and sustainability, I wanted to go into climate conferences and give speeches that would rouse everyone to their feet and bring nations of the world together in friendship, compromise, and agreement. I was feeling very (and clearly overly) confident.
Week-by-week, my courses and professors chipped away at every single one of my high-minded ideals, leaving me feeling totally despondent by the end of the first semester. I suppose challenging students’ most fundamental beliefs, forcing people re-think all their assumptions and appreciate the complexity of the world is the sign of a good education, right? But, honestly, it felt brutal. I didn’t know what to believe anymore, to stand for, or even stand up for. And while hundreds of hours in the form of lectures, seminars, reading, and essay writing were devoted to exposing the reality of the world, there were no time dedicated to hope for the future (I’m not sure this is because the LSE is an British school, or maybe I missed the lectures on hope for the future???) So I was really left feeling lost in an ocean of information and ambiguity. (My friends can attest to the level of gloom and doom I brought home after my first year).
It got so bad that I started obsessing about what I could control and what I could believe. The answer is, sadly, not much…. BUT I realized one thing I was doing every day, multiple times a day, and had control over was the food and drink I purchased and put in my mouth. FOOD is the way I slowly, day by day, built myself back up. I started reading about food and picking up everything I could find in the library. I ended up writing my dissertation on the future of feeding urban populations in light of climate change. Through my dissertation research I realized how much power I have with my dollars and my choices.
Since I have graduated, what I learned at the LSE has stuck with me: I’ve tried very hard to make the best possible choice when it comes to food at any given time, but it’s tough people! There’s a lot of misinformation out there! And there are a lot of words, terms, brands, and even grocery stores that are purposefully misleading to customers. Not to mention, life in the fast lane in NYC is tough enough. Some days, I don’t even have time to shower, much less drift around a farmers market, smelling all the fruits and vegetables, and chatting with farmers about their growing techniques… Honestly, it can be a struggle. Am I perfect everyday? No. Do I get lazy sometimes? Yes. Do I feel bad about that? Yes. But I’m trying! And that’s not nothing.
The other thing that I find frustrating is that cookbooks are not written with seasonal ingredients in mind anymore. I cannot tell you how many times I have picked out an incredible recipe to cook and gone to the farmers market to get ingredients, only to find that 10% of the stuff I need is in season. That means, a trip to a grocery store, a failed mission for me trying to do my best, and an extra hour (at least) out of my day. BOO!
These are all the reasons I started Impatient Foodie. I want to try to figure it out with you. I want to share recipes with ingredients available at a farmers market at a given time. I want to write all of you with my thoughts and us to ask each other questions. I want to, eventually, attempt to grow my own food in a garden in Brooklyn (!) and share my triumphs and breakdowns. My food choices are the way in which I re-claim control and make a contribution to myself, my community, this planet. Let’s do this.