A year and a half ago I lived in New York City while I was doing a design internship for school. I resided in some dorms that did not include a kitchen. So I had to be creative when it came to meals, prior to that time I had made a commitment to eat foods that were more “natural” and less processed. While there are benefits to this type of diet I was finding it hard to follow when I only had a small mini fridge and microwave to supply my meals. I remember one night wishing I had some bananas- at 8:30 pm in China town it is not easy to find bananas. But there are a few rules that I stick to in regards to preparing meals- now that I have the luxury of a full kitchen this isn’t so hard.
1. Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. When you pick up that box of portable yogurt tubes, or eat something with 15 ingredients you can't pronounce, ask yourself, "What are those things doing there?" Pollan says.
2. Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can't pronounce.
3. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods when it goes bad.
4. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. "There are exceptions -- honey -- but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food," Pollan says.
5. It is not just what you eat but how you eat. "Always leave the table a little hungry," Pollan says. "Many cultures have rules that you stop eating before you are full. In Japan, they say eat until you are four-fifths full. Islamic culture has a similar rule, and in German culture they say, 'Tie off the sack before it's full.'"
6. Families traditionally ate together, around a table and not a TV, at regular meal times. It's a good tradition. Enjoy meals with the people you love. "Remember when eating between meals felt wrong?" Pollan asks.
7. Don't buy food where you buy your gasoline. In the U.S., 20% of food is eaten in the car.
These tips are great when you are starting to change your dietary habits. My biggest challenge wasn’t changing the foods I was eating but eating out less. Not only was the food not as nutritious but I was generally using a car to get there. The best ways to be “green” with food involve making a lot of things from scratch, and growing the foods you can on your own. If you don’t have a yard you can try a kit like this to grow in a window, or purchase some plants from your local nursery. Farmer’s markets are another great source of produce if you can’t grow your own. In the end its about being good to the environment and being good to your body. And remember not everything that says “organic” is better, always check the label!