The list that tells you the top 100 foodie things to do before you die. While dining on a 16-course meal at a 3-star Michelin restaurant may be a mesmerizing experience, it’s inaccessible to most of us; as is eating a hundred dollar hamburger, catching your dinner in the deep, or going halfway around the world to experience Japanese blowfish and then hope you’re still breathing so that you can cross that off your list. Somehow, if you don’t do at least half the things on these top 100 foodie lists, you’re not a serious food lover. Nothing could be further from the truth! Do you actually have to kill, de-feather and dismember a chicken with your bare hands to prove that you’re a serious food lover? I think not!
There at least two strikes against these top foodie lists. First, they often include bizarre or outrageously expensive activities. Second, they fail to address those of us who are healthy foodies. As healthy foodies, we crave food experiences that contribute to both emotional and physical wellness. We also long for adventures in food that are simple, within our reach. No matter where we live, whether in the city or far from it, there are healthy foodie experiences around every corner. Here are a few healthy foodie things to do this fall—simple, pleasurable, and within reach for most of us:
1. Create your own organic dried fruit treats. Here’s how to get started: First, think of what’s in season. October usually brings us high quality, ripe apples – perfect to experiment with. The basic method is easy: Wash and blanche whole organic apples for about 5 minutes, dry very thoroughly, slice thinly (peeling is optional) and then treat for 4-5 minutes in bath of 2 cups of water mixed with 1 tsp. of ascorbic acid, otherwise known as vitamin C powder (this prevents discolouration). Now you have two choices for drying: use an oven set at 140 degrees F, or follow the directions that come with your food dehydrator. In each case, the drying process will probably take between 6-8 hours. Gratification will be a little delayed, but well worth the wait.
2. Volunteer at a food festival or agricultural fair for a day. Just make sure the focus is on ‘real’ food. Pay homage to a local fruit or vegetable. In Ontario, in the fall, we honour the cranberry, apple, and pumpkin. Get to know local farmers and where your food comes from. Man a booth, direct traffic, assist with edible giveaways, but best of all, nibble your way through the afternoon.
3. Read or re-read Michael Pollan’s Food Rules, an Eater’s Manual in an afternoon.You’ll be reminded of why you’ve made a conscious choice to eat well.
4. Discover a farm and pick your own of what’s in season. Look for a farm in your region that runs a sustainable operation. October harvest usually brings us pears, apples and plums. Bite into one of these beauties and let the juices drip down your arm. Pack a lunch and make a day of it. Although a picnic in the orchard may not be encouraged, most farms have rest areas, and they will usually allow you to eat your boxed lunch there, if you politely ask and pick up after yourself. So what are you waiting for?
5. Explore a farmers’ market – the next best thing to visiting a farm. With each visit you support local farmers who make the food that fuels our bodies. For the best selection and to beat the crowds, be prepared to get up at the crack of dawn and forgo a few precious hours of sleep. Having hot coffee also helps. Now down to business. Perouse the isles first, looking at each stall carefully to get an overview of what’s available. Strike up a conversation with the farmers. Ask them about their farm, where it is, how they grow their leeks, what else they grow (oftentimes it’s much more than what’s on the table or in the crates), and how best to cook their heirloom carrots or their candy-cane striped beets. This type of interaction not only gets wholesome food on your table, but it can kick-start your personal journey to sustainability.
6. Tour a local food artisan’s workshop or specialty shop. Learn how dark chocolate is made (70% cocoa mass or greater is best), or how green coffee beans are freshly roasted. Then, reward yourself with a sample or two.
7. Brew your own ginger tea. At the end of the day try the tea for relaxation: get into your bathrobe and slippers, put on a little jazz and sip on this fiery elixir. You’ll sleep like a baby!
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Eleni Tzotzis is a Toronto-based writer and contributor to Travel to Wellness. Reach her at: firstname.lastname@example.org