For reasons that are no surprise to me (ahem, I am lazy), I stopped logging my food into Fitbit a couple of months ago. I knew I shouldn’t be doing this; it was only when I started logging my food that I started getting smaller, so why I thought I could psychically control what I was eating without any kind of calculated proof is beyond me (but again, I am lazy). While I’ve remained at a slightly smaller size than when I started, I haven’t made any additional progress lately, so I decided to quit being an asshole and start logging food again.
And yeah, I’ve been an asshole about it. On the one hand, it’s a lot less painful to admit to Fitbit that I’ve eaten an entire pizza (again) now that I’m walking at least 2 miles every day just to get back and forth to work, and one of those miles is a 45-degree uphill climb. On the other, I wonder where my brain tricked me into thinking I had control over all of this, because it’s obviously a liar and I obviously need to get with the program again.
It is slightly easier to eat more of the stuff that’s not harmful now that the CSA is in full swing. While I wish we could stop getting so many fucking beets, overall, I’m able to fill two or three meals with so many vegetables that I sometimes struggle to validate the need for meat to accompany it. Three out of five of the meals I’m making this week are meatless, and the fourth uses up some leftover chicken from the one I roasted last night. And I look at that as a freebie, because a) it’s chicken, b) it’s one of those fancy free-range, organic, hormone-free chickens, and c) it’s leftovers, so not only did I already use up the effort to cook it, but I’m being economical about what’s in my fridge.
It’s not that I’m trying to eat less meat, except I kind of am, although it’s less for reasons like a conversion to vegetarianism (NOPE) or health (at least not until anyone proves that a vegetarian diet is unequivocally healthier than one that includes infrequent-to-moderate consumption of sustainably raised lean animal protein). But for reasons related to personal ethics or something insufferable like that, I buy more expensive meat from direct, organic, environmentally responsible purveyors, and because I am not yet made of money, this means that I can’t afford to cook meat every night. I also bought Mark Bittman’s “VB6” for Courtney, and because she was out of town, I, um, read it before I gave it to her (oh relax, she did the same thing when she bought Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” for me). Bittman’s plan to eat completely vegan before 6pm isn’t quite within my personal idea of things that are possible (you can have the milk in my coffee when you pry it from my cold, dead hands, which will invariably come back from the grave and haunt the shit out of you), but he makes a lot of sense in terms of the value of eating in a way that will eventually be the most realistic model for a world where animal products are prohibitively expensive and damaging to the environment. At least with the scale at which we’re consuming them now.
ANYWAY, I’m not about to become a vegan, a vegetarian, or even an anything-definite-before-6pm-an, but I am taking steps to buy and eat less meat and seek out other options when they’re available and taste good. I do realize this isn’t for everyone and many of us who were raised on eating meat with most meals would find this unsatisfying at first, so, you know, there’s a reason I’m making the eggplant and white bean meatballs while Graham is out of town.
This means making the most out of the stuff I have when I have it. We’re currently in high summer in the Pacific Northwest, which means that while the rest of the country is gearing down after the most bountiful harvests of the year, we’re still neck deep in tomatoes, green beans, corn, and big, leafy greens. When you think about it, even bumper crops of this stuff are kind of flash-in-the-pan. You can grow apples and potatoes all year long; not so for most summer produce. So even though I’ll be pretty sick of red chard come mid-September, right now, I’m making sure that I honor this stuff in the best way that I can. I’m careful about how I store it, prep it, cook it, and eat everything, including the leftovers. When you think about the food industry in general, meaning the enormous corporations that process and market the hell out of all that stuff in the middle of the supermarket, it’s a marvel that we’re still growing food at all. People are still planting, raising, pulling stuff out of the ground. And for the people who are doing this with heirloom seeds, without chemicals, and in ways appropriate to their regions and climates, it just feels like a remarkable thing to be able to hold a clutch of enormous walla walla sweet onions in one hand and a tangle of sweet pea vines in another and commit yourself to doing right by this food and the people who grew it.
I not only owe it to these people, but I owe it to myself to choose this kind of food. Instead of, you know, forgetting about my period and buying a bag of buffalo chicken pizza rolls because for some reason my brain is telling me it needs them to survive (I did this recently, and while I don’t necessarily regret it, I’m not exactly proud, either).
So I’ll roast down the tomatoes until they’re dark, jelly-like jewels, and I’ll store them in olive oil until I puree them for a sauce. I’ll prep and freeze the peppers in advance so I can be sure to use them up before they shrivel. I’ll keep at the blueberry-peach-nectarine cobbler for breakfast and for dessert because hey, did you know that if you’re (ahem) lazy and don’t peel the peaches or nectarines, some of the skins come off the slices and become, like, fruit noodles that you can slurp? So good. I will finally figure out artichokes, because I’ll be damned if I let those weirdo dinosaur things go to waste again.
I will gorge myself on everything I can, everything within reason, and I will be as least lazy as possible while doing it.