It’s another New Year and for most of us that means we’re thinking about setting a New Year’s resolution. I have to admit, like most people, I start out with the best of intentions but I rarely make it to spring before I fall back into my old habits. I think that one of the keys to upholding any resolution can be as simple as remembering that small changes are often easier to sustain than major lifestyle changes. As the famous quote from Aristotle states, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
One way to make goals more accessible, or habitual, is by setting a broad goal that can be fulfilled in various ways throughout the year. Not surprisingly the most common resolutions have to do with food! My resolution this New Year is to eat more mindfully. Below are some specific ideas to achieve this resolution. I hope they will help spark some ideas for your own food related resolutions.
Eat at the table
Choose one meal a day (or on weekend days) to eat at the table, without the distraction of music or television. Be mindful of all five senses while you’re eating. Pay attention to how you feel 30-60 minutes after that meal, in comparison to other meals.
Plan at least one meal a week that is made entirely of local ingredients. In the Co-op, look for purple shelf tags indicating local brands and produce. There are many sources for seasonal recipes, including this newsletter, as well as in-store recipes posted on shelves throughout the store. We carry many locally produced products, making it easy to construct a 100% local meal!
When choosing a restaurant, be mindful of the businesses that support farm-to-table and seasonal menus. Check out the REAP Food Group’s restaurant list for ideas. In the Madison area, we are lucky enough to have many options!
Read food labels
Be mindful of brands that call themselves “natural.” Many of these products are just re-branded conventional foods. They are not selling organic products or humanely raised animal products.
Consider buying a share or half-share from a local CSA in the spring or summer. In Madison, there’s an annual CSA Open House, which was held at Monona Terrace this year. Check the FairShare CSA Coalition website for more information. As an alternative to a CSA share, consider growing your own vegetables at home. This can be as simple as converting an old flower garden, or as extensive as building raised garden beds. For those of you without yard space, an herb garden might be a place to start. Community garden plots are also a great alternative for apartment/condo dwellers who wish to grow more of their own produce.
Learn a new kitchen skill
Check out the classes that the Co-op offers to learn everything from knife skills to home pickling. You can find upcoming classes listed by the registers, while you’re checking out. They are also printed monthly, here in the Reader.
Be aware of food packaging
Another way to eat mindfully is to be aware of food packaging. A great way to reduce packaging waste is by shopping our Bulk aisle. The Bulk section offers a wide variety of products that are shipped with minimal packaging and allows you, the customer, to control the amount of product that you purchase.
Foster a sense of gratitude
Give back to your community by volunteering at a local food pantry or other organization that assists those in need. Make your time commitment something that works with your schedule: once a week, once a month or quarterly. Remember that organizations like food pantries need volunteers throughout the year and not just during the holiday season.
Expand your cooking repertoire
The next time you’re in the store be sure to check out our wide variety of cookbooks. They range from barbecuing and fermenting to raw and vegan offerings. Variety is key for good nutrition.
Share your knowledge
Cook with your children or friends. Host potlucks that include recipe card exchanges. Update old family recipes with healthier alternative ingredients and share them with your friends and relatives.
To ensure success with any of your New Year’s resolutions get your friends, family, and/or children involved. Come up with a goal you can work on together. Keep in mind that small consistent changes are more easily sustained in the long run.