Yesterday, I listened to a podcast about Food Forces by Katy Bowman while making Indian Dal and Chapati for dinner (thankfully these turned out quiet well despite the fact that I have no training in cooking Indian cuisine! Thank you google.). Katy is the author of several books, including Movement Matters and Move your DNA. She has some fantastic material on how to integrate movement into everyday life. Check out her blog here.*
The topic of the podcast really got me thinking about how much movement is no longer a part of food. Katy says that so much of our food these days is mechanically processed by someone else or a machine. Someone had to stoop, bend, rub, soak, pick, mash, etc. before we get the final product (you can listen to the Food Forces podcast by Katy for free on iTunes here). You may have already have thought about this when it comes to a prepared fast-food meal, but the thought continues to even simple pantry staples.
Have you ever made pasta? If you have, you know that the whole rolling process is very very time consuming and labor intensive; especially if you aren’t using a Kitchenaid attachment. You finally get the pasta boiling in hot water for a few minutes and then you realize that there is hardly enough pasta for two people and you have four people you need to feed. Pasta making is fun, I enjoy it! But it isn’t exactly practical for the average American home cook. It’s messy, it’s time-consuming, and it’s an involved process where you must pay attention to each step. To be honest, almost anyone could make pasta. It really isn’t too difficult after a couple tries.
But let’s be real, I have a box of whole wheat pasta in my kitchen cupboard for a quick meal. Let me emphasize that this is NOT a bad idea! I would, in fact, encourage you to keep a box of pasta for a back-up plan. However, do you see what I’m getting at? The amount of movement that your body gets when making pasta, the kneading (hand-strengthening), the stretching, the rolling (arm and shoulder-strengthening), the precise cutting, and even the stooping to sweep up the flour are all things that you miss out on if you buy a box and dump it into boiling water. As Katy said, Movement is SO involved in food, but we’ve taken those as separate.
Well, what about efficiency? Wouldn’t you say that taking some movement out of food preparation is good so that my work gets done? Yes. I’m not necessarily proposing that you grow your own beans, harvest them, dry them, wash them, soak them, simmer them, and flavor them (although my husband is planning to do just that in our garden). I realize that may be a little too involved. I’m thinking a great idea might be to go more often to pick your own food…we do this each season. Blueberries in the summer. Apples in the fall. You get the idea. Another great idea would be to plant a few carrots this year to see how long it takes to grow, plus homegrown carrots are SO crisp and have a delicious sweetness. Pay some attention to how much you are moving to get your food, prepare your food, and eat your food.
A great exercise, if you want to take on a challenge to educate yourself about food, would be to pick one item from your pantry and research it’s origin, cultivation, nutrient profile, etc. Oats for example. Look it up on Wikipedia.
It’s rather fascinating to think about food in an educational way. That’s why I have several books that are my go to’s on ingredient education.
# 1 The Visual Food Encyclopedia
This is just what the title reveals, very visual. It gives the origin of an ingredient, how to choose a perfectly ripe ingredient, how to serve it, how to store it, and the basic nutritional information. I use this book when I want to show someone what a specific ingredient looks like and where it is from.
#2 Food Lover’s Companion
The Food Lover’s Companion is a much smaller dictionary. It defines many more ingredients than the Visual Food Encyclopedia does, but it isn’t as descriptive. This is a great reference to have if you just want a quick definition.
#3 Larousse Gastronomique Encyclopedia
When I want to be a foodie geek, I pull out Larousse. This is an exhaustive encyclopedia for all your culinary questions ringing in at 1205 pages. You can even find recipes throughout the descriptions for ingredients.
Thanks to Amazon, you could have any one of these amazing books on your doorstep within 2 days!
Comment below if you research an ingredient and learn something new!
*Disclaimer: Please listen to ANY podcast with a grain of salt. Although Katy says a lot of things I agree with, I don’t endorse all of her ideas nor do I agree with them all. I thoroughly enjoy listening to educational material such as this, but I also want to do my own research before taking something as fact.