Farm-to-table, this phrase might be somewhat overrated. However, from a nutrition standpoint, it contains so much wisdom. As simple as it sounds, it exactly is what it reads- Farm to Table. Food that comes straight from a farm, in its raw or purest form, which is then ‘processed’ to make it suitable to our system (usually cooking methods like broiling, grilling, sautéing, steaming), then served on our plate. This simple, traditional system might not shine bright as a million dollar idea but is saturated with priceless wealth and health. Today, with urbanization and accompanying toxic lifestyle, this precious idea has been left long behind. So much so, that many urbaners have forgotten the source of purest form of food. For instance, many know bananas in grocery stores but do not know what a banana tree looks like, many can relate to rice and lentils but not aware of how they are grown. Cashew is quite a common nut, however, very few know that it grows outside the fruit. Geographical location, climate and availability of natural resources play a crucial role in implementing this ideology, without a doubt. However, there is always a better option!
Try local produce
For those who live in tropical countries, there is no shortage of local produce at all. Variety of vegetables and fruits that are seasonal and local are available pretty much all year round. Problem is where winter hits real bad and basically 90% of the nature either hibernates, migrates or withers away. While some greenhouses do provide basic vegetables, major chunk has to be imported from across the continent. In that case, lentils, beans and legumes are my choice of food. Toss with spices and aromatics, pair with bread or rice, or enjoy in a soup! All you need is to plan it ahead of time to avoid using canned or pre-cooked items!
There are various initiatives taken by enthusiastic community members to start programs like community farming projects or adopt a land program. Many restaurants and catering businesses use this as their objective to spread awareness and sustain the agricultural industry. A great initiative by Canada towards this ideology is The Canada Food Guide 2019. This new generation food guide is not ‘one size fits all’ but very broad in the sense that includes several categorizes from kids to seniors, artists to athletes, and CEOs to parents. A very important aspect that this food guide highlights is to be smart about choosing ‘health’ foods at retail stores. Marketing is a very powerful tool and right use of terms, colours, sizing, pricing, displays play with our brains to fall for these gimmicks.
Everyone today agrees that eating healthy is the need of the hour. Little do they know what really is ‘healthy’.
To make it simple, anything that is
- comes out of a box/ bottle/ tin/ sometimes a jar, and
- is labelled on basis of a certain nutrient
is generally what we need to stay away from. So this category includes all your cookies, crackers, cereals, chips, soda, energy or protein bars, low-fat ice cream, sugar-free ketchup, non-dairy yoghurt, bottled pasta sauces, salad dressings, 2-minute meals, microwave meals, frozen meals etc. Phew!! Basically everything that we load our shopping carts with. All these items are high in chemical preservatives, non-food ingredients that are sometimes not even mentioned on the ingredient lists, artificial colours and flavours, soy and corn products and its derivatives. Not to forget, the quality of real food ingredients is quite questionable. To word it differently, anything that is made in factory is generally not meant for your health. Real hands make real food! Having said that, certain ingredients will always be available in processed form. The kind of process used is what makes the difference. For example: Rice (grains are processed), flours, dry spices, salt, coffee, cocoa etc. Michael Pollan quotes, ‘If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was made in a plant, don’t.’
Having said that, here is a recipe for Hummus. Hummus is one of the easiest condiments but is rarely ever made at home. And if at all it is homemade, we use bottled tahini paste and canned chickpeas. Besides, many recipe blogs, websites and videos also suggest using these pre-made ingredients. So here is a recipe, made from scratch, no preservatives, no bottles, no added flavours. Try it and taste the difference yourself.
1 cup chickpeas soaked overnight
1 cup toasted sesame seeds
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic (add more if you love garlic)
1 tbsp honey
1 lemon, juiced
- First make a tahini paste. Toasted sesame seeds in a blender, slowly add the olive oil as your blend this to form a thick paste.
- Boil the chickpeas so they are almost over cooked, very soft. Blend them in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add garlic, salt, lemon juice, honey and tahini. Blend again
- Hummus is ready!! This will hold in your fridge for 3 to 4 days.
Variations include: Spinach hummus (add a handful spinach), roasted red pepper hummus (char 1 red pepper and add to the above recipe), roasted garlic, spicy, lemon-cilantro…
Try your own variation without any store bought canned products! Comment and share your experiences below. Let us know what other recipes you would like us to share! Stay fit, keep cooking and never skip eating.