Times they are a-changing

It used to be that families regularly ate together at a dining room table, and children were told to clean their plates, or there would be no dessert for them. Meals for the most part had a certain familiarity: cereal or toast for breakfast, a sandwich or soup for lunch and meat and potatoes with some sort of vegetable for dinner. Desserts and snacks were even straight forward, like cakes, pies and cookies or maybe cheese and crackers or a piece of fruit. Nowadays though, the world has gotten smaller and much more is shared, and demanded, amongst the populus. The grocery stores carry all manner of delicacies year-round, many of them at quite affordable prices. Ethnic cuisines are now incorporated into many families' "meat and potatoes" list of menus. I wonder where we will go next in varying the way we nourish ourselves?

How does your family eat? Are there days reserved for a "nice dinner", even amidst busy schedules; or is there no one in your house who enjoys cooking enough to bother? It's easy enough to buy prepared food and have a complete meal. The ready-made market even accommodates many trends and allergies in eating - gluten-free, dairy-free, and nut-free items have joined vegetarian and sugar-free products to make a much bigger category. There are all kinds of diets out there and many customers look to only buy organic or local fare when possible... so many more things to consider than just having rice or potatoes with the roast!

When you go out for a meal, what are the deciding factors in the place you choose? Are you looking for value - "cheap eats", or big portions? Are you willing to pay more for a dish that is made from scratch or using local ingredients ('cause those things cost more)? Do you believe that dining on the waterfront, or at the top of a mountain, or in the vineyard, is a worthwhile part of the experience and a worthy expense? Would you support a unique business to help ensure its continued success, or do you just need to grab a bite today wherever?

Grocery stores do promotions now too, not just the coupons of old. They have all kinds of discounts and specials, on items from around the world, at much the same price regardless of season. You can even get free items if you spend a large sum. This past week Superstore in West Kelowna was giving away a case of fresh California peaches if you spent over $200...

Should we have to consider so much responsibility for something so simple as food? Why yes, we should. Each of us is a part of the community, and the planet that provides our food. If we don't consciously support the kind of environment we want to see in the future, we might be surprised to find out what kind of place we live in. I'm not boycotting chain restaurants and big grocery stores, and I can't afford to support every cool foodie spot in town but I will not support promoting food that devalues the hard work done by our farmers and chefs and small business owners. I adore the biodiversity we have from the farming history in the region. I appreciate the education that the agri-tourism outlets provide to locals and visitors alike. I will fight to keep traditions alive so our history will not be lost and so innovations can consider every bit of past practice and effort.

My parents used to say that I should eat my sandwich crusts because there were children starving in Africa who didn't have a sandwich and I shouldn't be disrespectful. I have to tell you, even if I spent $200 last week I could not in good conscience have accepted free fruit as my reward, only to drive by the fruit stand at the end of the road.

I hope this provides food for thought. We can shape the world with our actions. If we don't engage in the process, we may find some alternatives tough to swallow.

More Happy Gourmand articles

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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