Yesterday was a holiday that for many in the United States represents the possibilities of adventure, discovery, and exploration. Institutions closed to honor Christopher Columbus and children across the United States learned about European explorers and Columbus’s journey who “in 1492 … sailed the ocean blue.” There is another side to this exploration story. Recognized in some parts of the United States the holiday of Indigenous Peoples’ Day points us to the other side of that exploration; people whose lives were negatively impacted by the exploration of a Portuguese man who sought a new westward route to the Indies for spices.
Just as there are two sides to Columbus’s exploration and discovery, there are multiple sides to stories of food exploration and discovery. Farmers and businesses find ways to increase the production of the food we eat, but we lose our connection to the land as a result. We find ways to make food last longer and discover convenient and truly practical ways of stretching out our time and resources, but the ingredients that preserve the food add little nutritional content and sometimes have detrimental effects on our bodies.
As I become more involved in the world of food, I see multiple sides balancing risks on global, local, and personal scales. It drives home the point that exploration involves risk. Just as Columbus risked many things for his discovery, so too do we risk much when we try a new way of cooking or a new approach to eating.
I continue to be struck by the courage of those with food allergies. There are recipes that fall completely flat when converted, friends who refuse to accept that cookies can taste good without gluten, and family members who insist that trying “a little bit” of something won’t activate your allergies. But with the exploration and risk inherent in these changes—whether they are for yourself, your loved ones, or for friends you are hosting—there is great potential for discovery.
So in a month of changing seasons and changing perspectives, I want to share a couple tips that can make the discovery process a little smoother.
- Make small changes, one at a time. When converting a recipe or adjusting to an allergy sensitive lifestyle the gradual changes tend to be the least shocking and the most likely to stick.
- Lean on the discoveries of those who have come before you. Find blogs, cookbooks, and recipes (we have some great ones coming up!) to see what has worked for them. This will minimize your frustration.
- Make changes fun and exciting. Whenever you can, find the fun part of exploration through making games out of cooking, having friends do a cooking day, etc.
- Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Change and discovery take incredible amounts of courage and are challenging. Celebrate your small (and large) victories and approach your unsuccessful attempts with humor—they are stepping stones on a journey of food discovery!
Please leave a comment to let us know what you have discovered, good and not-so-good, below. We are all on the journey of food exploration together!