Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cleaning Out the Fridge Day (plus Mediterranean musings)

Before I leave for Pennsylvania tomorrow, we need to eat up leftovers...and I think I'll be able to save significantly on the grocery budget because Ben doesn't eat much and the kids will be gone this weekend at their dad's house. My meals are paid for since it's a business trip. In the meantime, I'm looking at what I don't want to leave all weekend in the fridge. For lunch today, I toasted another wholegrain sub roll and topped it with the remaining veggie-burger-that-didn't-hold-together mix (TVP, mushrooms, carrots, lots of spices, etc.) for a vegetarian Sloppy Joe. Topped with a little Dijon mustard and the last remaining pickle spear, I sided it with some spring mix and kiwi fruit.

Yesterday, I gave a talk to a group of College of Education staff for their lunchtime enrichment series about the Mediterranean diet, and I began the talk by talking about the anti-consumerism wager, and how it has, inadvertently, nudged me into a much more authentic Mediterranean way of eating. I make food from scratch, I don't buy anything packaged. I cook. I use my leftovers. And I have very little to spend. I talked about how the traditional Mediterranean diet was one of the healthiest on the planet, and yet, the people eating it wished they had more meat. They felt deprived. How do we, in America, with so much food, benefit from a diet of deprivation? By making the conscious choice (we have the luxury to do this) to choose real food. The fact that real food is getting to be more expensive than packaged food (what Michael Pollan calls "food-like substances") makes us, as the wealthiest nation in the world, ironically able to follow this diet, by choice, not necessity. I also talked about how the Mediterranean diet is more than food--it's about spending time outside in the fresh air, physical labor, close ties with family, sitting down together to eat a meal, and having an extended network of friends and community. Look up from the computer screen and go outside. Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Slow down and breathe.

They sent me home with the big box of salad greens. Lunch there (included, I didn't have to pay--one more meal for free) was salad greens with toppings everybody brings. I topped mine with an artichoke pasta salad mixed with a homemade vinagrette, some quinoa salad, and some cubed baked tofu. On the side: some wheat crackers and half a whole-wheat pita. It was an admirably Mediterranean sort of lunch.

I'll be interested to see what I will find to eat in Pennsylvania. Stay tuned!

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