Food is really important, not just to our health but to our happiness, to our communities and to our families. Being more conscious of all of those things is very rewarding. … So if there’s a mission, I think it’s to be a little more conscious of what’s at stake every time you sit down at the table.
— Michael Pollan, From an interview with Organic Connections
My grandmother sparked my interest in food. As a little girl at Nanny’s side, I learned about cooking from scratch. I am blessed to have a box full of Nanny’s hand-written recipes. Ironically, in my late teens I suffered from a severe eating disorder during which I fed myself vicariously by watching Julia, Jacques and Jeff on PBS and poring through stacks of cookbooks from the local library. At the same time, I learned about techniques, ingredients, and international flavors.
Until a few years ago, attention to food took a back seat to my corporate finance career and too much business travel, and then running a business with my husband. When we cooked, we’d end up with a couple of pieces of paper with recipes, notes, and stains. These I collected in a messy stash next to the microwave. After a few years, this collection became too unwieldy, and I began to document all of our ideas, successes and failures on my computer – the start of my food writing.
Since selling our business, my husband and I have been living our dream: travelling and spending the rest of our time between an urban North American life based in Toronto and a rural Mediterranean life in Crete, Greece. When in Crete we get to experience first-hand the benefits of a healthy and deliciously conscious diet. In Toronto, we navigate the grocery stores and ethnic and farmer’s markets to stick to this diet without going broke.
When not immersed in tasting and cooking food, writing and enjoying life with my husband and cat, I trap-neuter-release stray and feral cats in our neighborhood in Crete (yup, I’m a Crazy Cat Lady)and read several books every month – food-related, of course, but also fiction and popular science. In fact, I am a skeptic by nature: don’t tell me a “fact” without a citation, please!
My Food Philosophy
I eat a lot of plant-based foods, but I do like meat and fish, too. So if you want a label, you can call me a flexitarian (a semi-vegetarian) who tries to eat mainly whole foods.
In the last couple of years, I have become well-versed in the problems with industrialized and processed, prepared food. And I’ve come to realize that my food choices can greatly impact things that are important to me: animal welfare, our environment, food security, and fair wages and working conditions.
I also think that moderation is important. Eating nutritious food and maintaining a healthy weight will help increase your chances of being able to enjoy fully the lifespan you have but not necessarily overcome the impact of luck and genetics. Unless you have a restriction prescribed by your doctor, completely eliminating sugar or wheat, eating a ton of kale and quinoa and swallowing a gajillion vitamin supplements are not going to increase the quality and length of your life. And may even be worse for you as your focus sucks the pleasure out of life and adds stress – never mind the drain on your wallet.
Regardless, I try to eat as healthy as I can. To stay within a reasonable budget, I focus on buying locally grown produce in season, and frozen or canned if I must have them out of season. For animal proteins, I try to get the best: humanely and sustainably grown, non-industrial, free from toxins and antibiotics. As an advocate of the Mediterranean diet, I believe that meat, fish, poultry and dairy products are only accessories to the rest of a plate’s ingredients so I will pay more but use less. Other than that, I have to trust that doing my best to shop smartly will more or less keep me out of harm’s way.
And I am not a sustaina-bully. I have a couple of pizzas in the freezer – just in case. One of my family’s favorite desserts is my “moist & fluffy” chocolate cake made with a boxed mix and canned frosting (horrors!). On day-long road trips, fast food joints are just too easy.
My hope is that with this blog, I can help you find health and joy through deliciously conscious food. Sometimes I will point gently, sometimes I will push – hard. If you learn one small thing, or even just smile, I will have succeeded in what I want to accomplish.