Food is one of my few obsessions and thinking about it, it is probably the most important one. Without food none of us could live and not having enough food is one of humankind’s greatest fears. This month I want to talk about our most important source of energy besides the sun and ask the questions: what is good food and where should it come from?
Good food means something different to everybody. If I am in Madrid in Spain I would translate good food to Jamón Iberico or a visit to one of the posh madrid farmers markets for tourists. In Switzerland I would think about their great yogurt (no joke), in Sweden it would be fresh fish or traditional Swedish street food and ice cream (best I have ever tried) and in Poland it would be Pierogi. Moving to the Netherlands I learned that good food is not necessarily dependent on the country, there is good food everywhere, but more on where your food comes from and if it’s fresh.
Before moving to the Netherlands I was a bit worried about the food quality here. I thought that it would be difficult to get fresh and healthy raw ingredients such as vegetables, fruits and meat and that most of the food available would be fried. I wasn’t totally wrong because, like everywhere else in the industrialised world, junk food restaurants have occupied the high streets. Fried and fast food is everywhere and there are hardly any affordable healthy alternatives except for cooking your own food. Everything is packed in plastic and nothing really looks healthy. Sounds familiar? This is a common picture throughout Europe from large supermarkets to small healthy looking take-aways at train stations. There is one exception though. Farmers markets have stood their place and have survived the industrialisation of food. Here in the Netherlands they are not as present as for example in Madrid but if you are willing to spend your Saturday morning shopping for food, they are the healthiest and most affordable option on the long term.
To sum it up: good food means good quality food and in my case raw ingredients I can shape into the dishes I want to eat. Nowadays food also requires the label organic to be healthy and sustainably produced. Buying locally produced food is not only saving traveling costs, fuel and more sustainable but it also helps to keep local farms alive. Understanding what we are eating and where it comes from gives us the power to stay healthier and fiter on the long run. Why would we want to be alienated from the most important ingredients that gets us going every day?
How do you guys shop and what does food mean to you?