Yahoo! Food is featuring a segment on "real food", and seeing as how my pregnant wife eats with the voracity of a hungry shark, I began thinking about what I considered to be “real food”. My immediate thought was that it is a key element in a healthy lifestyle and ensuring my wife has a successful pregnancy. But while the countless elements of real food make it difficult to define, to me the concept is very specific. Real food has a personality and begs to be prepared. It is food that is fresh, flavorful and nourishing. It is food you experience, not just a meal you eat and forget.
The concept of 'real food', like beauty, lies with the beholder. In my eyes, food is indeed beautiful and has been a central theme in my relationship with my wife for the past few years. Our meals and our diet are things that extend beyond filling enough calories to get us through the day.
We started a cafe together, and for years observed the public's relationship with food. During that time we noticed a divergence in people; to some a meal was a requirement packed into a busy schedule, while others were invested in what they ate. This was an important distinction in defining what real food means to us. My wife and I experience food, meals are an event, food is enjoyed and prepared carefully.
Now that my wife is pregnant, we make sure that the foods we eat are real by a more scientific definition. We eat lots of unprocessed foods and organics whenever able. This includes tons of fruits and veggies and using all natural flavors and seasonings. My wife is a brilliant cook and has always had a wonderful way of combining fresh ingredients with out losing their distinct flavors. As we sat down to eat lunch today, my interpretation of 'real food' struck me. She had sliced up some grilled chicken and served it on a whole-grain baguette with fresh beefsteak tomatoes, red onion, honey mustard, baby spinach, Brie and avocado. The sandwich had a distinct overall flavor, yet I could taste each individual item's rich contribution in this tasty concoction.
Real food is a sensory event, ranging from the color contrast of red and yellow peppers, to the smell of a pie baking or the sizzling sound of chicken on a grill. Finding your own real food is an evolution. Become a foodie. Enjoy what you eat. Make distinctions for yourself that help you experience food, anything from switching to sea salt from table salt or slicing your own cheddar instead of buying pre-sliced American cheese.
Anything that is doctored too much loses its flavor. Real food really shouldn't change much between when it was grown and when you prepare it. Grains should be whole, fruits and veggies should be fresh and meats not loaded with hormones. Food isn't found in wrappers and boxes in nature and we try and keep that in mind when shopping.