Yesterday, I went and I did something that I’ve been meaning to do for the past 18 months: I renewed my library card. Then I came home with some cookbooks. As part of my Lean Eating journey and my effort to eat a more diverse, balanced and sustainable diet, I am trying to eat new foods, and I’m trying to prepare things that are already part of my diet in different ways, At the talk I went to last week, the presenter mentioned that a good way to try new foods was to go to the library and bring home a cookbook. What a great idea.
I also used my renewed library card to get into a free screening of the documentary The Fruit Hunters tonight. The movie was released last year and explores the evolution of human culture alongside fruit, and specifically exotic fruit. There are a few story lines woven together in the documentary, including one researcher working in bananas, food hunters on the quest for mangoes, and a movie star trying to start a community orchard in his Hollywood neighbourhood.
I’m glad I went to see the movie, even though I was easily the youngest person in the audience by 20 years. The movie itself was visually stunning, but of course it’s a movie about fruit so is that really surprising? There were a couple of moments when the CGI lapsed from gorgeous to downright cheesy, but overall this was just a very beautiful movie. It was also incredibly frustrating because it was so well done. Seeing a gorgeous piece of fruit and then watching someone savour and describe its taste- pears and peaches and cinnamon and brown sugar!- without being able to experience the taste, touch or smell of these things over and over again for 90 minutes was maddening. And I suddenly have the urge to start an orchard in my non-existent backyard. That would be perfect for the canning technique I learned earlier this week!
In terms of content, the movie was interesting and did touch on some of my favourite themes: the homogenization of western diet and the disconnect between urban dwellers and their food sources. Bananas for example, are a prime example of the globalization of nutrition. Forget processed foods or chains, everyone in the world is eating genetically identical Cavendish bananas. And the idea that we could lose all of these bananas to Panama Disease is kind of terrifying. I enjoy bananas so much that I consider them one of my red light foods! They are so sweet and lovely! They are the perfect post-workout snack. What will I put in my smoothies? How will I make mock ice cream?
Of course, are people really worried about where bananas will come from? No. Because we expect bananas to be in the grocery store and the idea that one day they might not be there for $.79/lb is unfathomable. When the narrator of the film touched on the idea that fruit at the grocery store was “expected”, I thought back to my field camp this summer when we had to do communal grocery shopping. I wanted to buy a bag of Gala apples. I always buy Gala. But Stef said, “Fine, we can get Gala but they’re not my favourite.” The idea that someone didn’t totally love gala apples was kind of shocking to me, I admit. But she justified her opinion by saying, “They’re all the same. You know exactly what to expect.” And I was intrigued: did other apples have surprises?
Since field camp, I’ve been trying new varieties of apples and I like the surprise each time I try a new variety. How will this be different from good ol’ galas? It turns out that I really like honey crisp. And I’ve been making a hash with potato, brussel sprouts, apples and oregano. The first time around, I used a fuji apple. The second time I made the recipe, I used a gala. I was kind of disappointed by the gala in a way I’d never felt before. It was just boring.
But those are just apples. Here are people who travel all around the world looking for fruit that’s more exciting than what’s found in the produce department. I can definitely see the appeal. Like I said, I’m pretty much ready to start planting my own orchard right this second.
One thing I would I have liked to seen explored more is the distinction of fruit as a “health food”. For someone trying to “eat the rainbow”, fruit is a great choice. It’s natural and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals and water. But it’s typically more calorie-dense than vegetables and can cause blood sugar spikes. I’ve seen fruit demonized in diets like Keto because it’s considered too high in sugar. I wonder if having access to a rich variety of truly fresh fruit would be an effective obesity intervention. Someone should do an experiment where they move me to my own orchard and force me to live off an acre of land. I bet I could do it. And I bet I’d lose weight. And it would probably make for some great reality television.
Breakfast – Orange, Spinach, Pumpkin, Hemp, Kombucha Super Shake
First Lunch – Apple, Brussel Sprout & Potato Hash with eggs
Second Lunch – Mustard Chicken Thighs with Spiced Cauliflower & Carrot Soup
First Dinner – Cottage cheese, toast with almond butter, cucumber
Second Supper – Shrimp Stir Fry
Workout: Final Workout 1 of Phase 3. No more rack pulls for a while – and I was just starting to build up my callouses again! 😦
Days since last meltdown: 3