At the beginning of my journey to health and wellness, changing my diet was a struggle. I grew up on 5-7 vegetables, rotated throughout the week. I distinctly remember carrots, cucumbers, the occasional broccoli/cauliflower combo, and sometimes lettuce adorning my dinner plate. The “grains” food group basically meant pasta, bread, and rice. I didn’t even know quinoa was a thing until I was in my 20’s, and I only then did I start learning about alternative grains.
It’s a shame, honestly, to have so much abundance in the world and not know about it.
Today, 75% of the world’s food comes from only 12 plants. The big three are corn, wheat and rice, accounting for about 60% of human energy intake. Think about it… how frequently do you eat wheat, rice and corn? I can bet that in any Standard American Diet, you’re having these daily if not multiple times per day.
Another interesting fact? More than 90% of edible crop varieties are no longer grown by farmers. We are losing our biodiversity because farmers put their energy into giving us what we ask for. These days, we ask for wheat, corn and rice. We also ask for a small variety of other crops, but it’s mostly all the same thing, isn’t it? Carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, onion, peppers, potatoes – does your grocery store list sound a little like this, every single week? It can get a little boring after a while, can’t it?
How can we add interest to our diet? Explore new food.
When I found out quinoa was a thing, it became a staple in my home. Cumin and curry spices have made their way into my meals (my mom hated these spices). I’ve been eating kale weekly, when five years ago I didn’t even realize it existed.
Clearly I wasn’t exposed to much diversity when I was younger.
I’m on a journey. A journey of exploration. I love the idea of trying new foods and figuring out exciting ways to prepare them. I love exploring their taste and how they pair well with other flavours. I’m nowhere near chef-status, but being surrounded by food inspiration, I’m being driven outside of my comfort zone and loving it.
Here are some of the reasons why it’s important to explore new foods:
- Trying, and falling in love with new flavours.
- Taking in a wide variety of nutrients from varied sources.
- Encouraging biodiversity in farming practices.
- To keep our minds growing, evolving, and learning about our food.
- To impress our family and friends when they’re over for dinner – haha, kidding! … sort of? In all honesty though, you become an example to them, and can encourage them to adopt an open mind too!
- It’s a form of being adventurous. Isn’t being adventurous supposed to be rewarding?
- It’s an opportunity to broaden your “food” spectrum, giving you more options for meals, snacks and more.
Seriously, why wouldn’t you want to explore new foods? You don’t have to start with something scary, you just have to start somewhere.
How can you introduce new foods into your diet?
Challenge yourself to pick up 1 new fruit or vegetable each week (or month if you’re not too sure about the idea). This will encourage you to go outside of your comfort zone and try new things, without being too daunting. Farmers markets are great for this, as you can sometimes find unique foods that are native to the area.
Another option is joining a local CSA (community supported agriculture/farm share) or vegetable delivery service. Farmers/suppliers are likely to throw in one or two “different” or “unusual” vegetables. This is a great option if you are willing to try anything and really love your veggies. I’ve been meaning to try a vegetable box subscription – maybe next summer!
Remember, if you don’t like the way something tastes the first time you make it, try it in another way. I’m not a huge fan of raw spinach, but sautéed with some organic butter and freshly chopped garlic? I love it.
I promise, experimenting with and exploring new foods is rewarding. I’ve been able to learn so much about the food I eat, and expand the potential meal options I have at my fingertips. I’m sure that if you take the time to try new things, you will find it just as rewarding.
Now, please excuse me while I go experiment making some garlic scape pesto, with those garlic scapes I bought recently on a whim.