I was lucky enough to eat very well at home. I was no stranger to the exotic, but often what I appreciated most were things as simple as tomatoes and basil grown right on our own deck. When I attended college in Philly, I survived on the typical college student diet of ramen and takeout pizza while dreaming of the day that I would have my own kitchen where I could eat as well as I did growing up. I also toyed with the idea of vegetarianism as I read about the environmental impact of the commercial meat industry, and I learned about the benefits of eating locally and organically produced food.
Even though it was laughably small, I finally found a kitchen to call my own and had access to the best ingredients that Philly has to offer. At the various farmer's markets open year round I discovered what was in season when and how it's harvested. I was introduced to kabocha squash, kohlrabi, and more varieties of beets than I knew existed. I joined a CSA which was one of the single most rewarding things I've done in Philly.
Along the way I found a remarkable group of like minded friends. We've shared everything from a CSA share to last night's leftovers. What I love most of all though, is that they share my passion for both food and humor.
And about my vegetarianism... I am constantly struggling to break my addiction to all things meat.You'll find that many posts detail this struggle to eat vegetarian while still enjoying food. While in some respects I've found a happy medium, I still eat more meat than I would like. When I can, I make sure that the meat that I do eat is local and organic.
I think my philosophy about food can best be summed up in 2 words:
I won't pretend that this is some earth shattering idea that I came up with, but it is my reminder to myself when I am presented with choices. Whether at the grocery store or a restaurant, what I put in my mouth is a choice, and one that has consequences. If I am going to indulge in something that isn't as local, or organic, or vegetarian as I would like, I'm going to enjoy it while thinking about how it ended up on my plate. I am grateful of every bite knowing that not many eat as well as I do. And the next day I'll try to do better.
I know I'll never be perfect. I'll leave that to the vegans, and the macrobiotics, and the raw foodies. I am inspired and humbled by others, but I'll never have their conviction. I often think about an end goal for myself. Would I be a happier and better person if I could say one day that I went a whole year without eating meat? If I pledged not to buy a single piece of produce not produced locally? If I grew my own food? Would it be worth it?
These questions and more have led me to Charlottesville, VA. Not only is it a wonderful place to eat, but I am currently fulfilling my dream of devoting my entire life to food. While my fantasy of becoming a chef was thankfully short lived, I now have another goal in mind: to be able to address the most pressing issues that are threatening our public health, our food security, and our environment. Between my continued quest to improve my culinary skills and my academic research, food has officially consumed me.
This is where I will document the more amusing aspects of my personal and professional journey through the world of food. If anyone out there is along for the ride, enjoy.