Advocate with your plate

When I was a kid, we were told to eat a balanced diet of the four food groups in the food pyramid and that would keep you healthy. End of conversation. Talk of allergies was rare, and people who ate a different kind of diet were those from another part of the world, where they had different foods. It was that simple.

Nowadays, the world is a bigger place, with bigger ideas. Intensive farming on a mass scale has become the norm. Climate change is affecting crop harvests and growing seasons. International transportation of food is now common throughout the year, so people in more places eat everything from everywhere. 

It turns out, this equation doesn’t work long term. Our planet can’t sustain what are currently doing, and apparently, it’s been trying to tell us that for a while. Drastic changes are required. Some of these changes involve altering our diet. How we eat has become a statement of how we live.

The latest trends in how to eat are led by the release of research projects. 

  • Many studies show that with an increased population and more developed countries now eating a Western diet with meat, we simply cannot raise enough animals. It takes too much land to house and feed them, and the carbon emissions created are damagingly high. The result: We need to eat less meat and dairy.
  • More and more people are developing allergies and intolerances to various foods and food groups. Some studies suggest this has to do with the increased processing of foods, from chemicals used in farming the ingredients to the greater mechanization of preparing final products. This achieves more homogenous foods that have a longer shelf life, but those man-made additions to the recipes don’t agree with some folks. The result: We need to offer substitutes for nuts, flour and sugar.
  • People lead increasingly busy lives, and many are looking to grab food on the go. But all the packaging created for portable food is piling high and recycling is not enough anymore to keep our planet clean. This trend breaks into two, with one option being an effort to keep the take-out platform, and the other being a switch to the “old school.”
    • If you are picking something up on your way, use your own container. This is not only for water and coffee; now many restaurants will fill your lunch containers or offer a meal in edible packaging. All kinds of wrapped dishes (think lettuce, tortillas, rice, etc.) now replace plastic film and take-out boxes. Oh, and don’t forget to bring your own drinking straw and cutlery.
    • If you want to make a bigger change, go back to cooking at home. All kinds of cookbooks and videos abound on how to cook a meal quickly. With a plant-based diet, many dishes take less time to prepare or can be cooked ahead and stored in the fridge. This method is especially useful for people who have allergies, as it allows them to totally control the ingredients used in their meals.

The biggest challenge at the dinner table when I was a kid was eating all the food. The crusts on my sandwich should be consumed because there were other kids starving in Africa and I shouldn’t be wasting. I had to eat my vegetables because they were good for me. Kids today, when they have the time to sit down with their families together to have a meal, must think about how to be responsible citizens for our planet. 

In our house we have not moved to an entirely plant-based diet. We do eat much less meat than we used to. We buy ingredients that are in season and as close to home as possible to minimize the carbon footprint. We buy items from smaller farms or companies to support them and their less invasive practices. And we take our own straws and cutlery with us everywhere, along with travel mugs and water bottles. We shop with net produce bags and reusable grocery totes.

There are a lot of changes to be made to get back to any kind of sustainability. But let’s not despair. Rather, let’s resolve to act. Anything you do will make a difference. Sharing ideas with others helps remind us all to be accountable. 

I’ll close with a quote from the poster child for our times, Greta Thunberg. A child’s perspective focuses on the future, and that is what we need most.

"It is still not too late to act. It will take a far-reaching vision, it will take courage, it will take fierce, fierce determination to act now, to lay the foundations where we may not know all the details about how to shape the ceiling. In other words, it will take cathedral thinking. I ask you to please wake up and make changes required possible.”

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About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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