Monday, July 21, 2008

The trap of quick food

I eat too much crap. I'm not alone in this, most people I know do, but jeez... the eternal conflict between time, nutrition and yumminess is a tough one.

I've read the books - Real Food, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Slow Food, etc etc. I know the arguments for eating well, taking your time when preparing a meal, savoring what you eat. I believe this is a better way to live. It's better for body and spirit. But I don't always have the time. I have trouble believing anyone - alright, anyone who has a job - does.

I try to eat food that honors the earth and my body. And I often fail.

When I can, when I have the time, I cook good meals; I use good ingredients, I think about what I put into my body, I close my eyes and savor my bites. But when I'm getting ready for work in the morning I'm in a rush. I need stuff I can deal with quickly, pack easily, eat at my desk without much fuss, mess or aroma and it's off to the races.

If I'm careful I pack fruit, cheese (real cheese cut from the block), maybe a little sandwich, some yogurt, celery, stuff like that. And if I'm not careful it's cheese sticks (I think they're called "cheese sticks" because they stick around inside you for so long) some crackers or nuts, and enough money for something at the cafeteria.

Admittedly, this kind of quick food isn't as unhealthy as fast food, but in some ways that makes it all the more insidious. I feel bad when I eat fast food - McDonald's and the like. I know it's bad for me because of how it makes me feel, so I avoid it. With quick food I eat it without thinking, without acknowledging the time and labor that went into it, without taking the time to taste it and honor my body as I eat it. All it becomes is caloric intake to get me through the day. If asked I have to struggle to remember what I ate, even if it wasn't unhealthy. But it doesn't make me feel bad, so there isn't that much impetus to change what I'm doing, for all that my mind and spirit are telling me it's not such a good idea. My body is chugging along and I have more time to get stuff done (the mantra of the modern age). Quick food lets me get more stuff done.

It's a shame I keep forgetting that one of the more important things I should get done is stopping. Slowing down. Savoring the present, the world around me, the taste of the moment.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer

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