If there’s one thing that most people don’t do well in developed countries like Australia, it’s embracing the glory of fresh food, straight from the ground. As a nation, we eat so much frozen, shrink-wrapped, boxed and over-packaged products from supermarkets that we forget what proper, fresh, straight-from-the-source food tastes like.
I’ll admit that I’m guilty of this myself. I live in a highly urban area, I work full time, and week-to-week, I don’t have the time to travel out of my way to go to a Farmer’s Market and buy my groceries straight from the source. I do what I can in trying to cut down my consumption of processed foods, but sometimes my love of pre-cut pre-seasoned potato wedges outweighs any ‘food miles’ ethics.
I really enjoyed experiencing the complete opposite lifestyle while I was travelling through South East Asia in December. The streets of Vietnam in particular, were particularly full of small farmers selling their home-grown produce.
Aren’t the colours vibrant and the produce fresh? Walking through the market district of any Vietnamese city or town is a real delight, as you get confronted with the smells and sounds of housewives haggling over the cost of fresh produce for their evening meal.
You see butchers selling hunks of meat straight off a concrete slab, perhaps slaughtering a chicken right in front of you. You see a lady with a cage full of live frogs, decapitating and skinning them in one easy five second motion. You discover new produce that you wouldn’t normally find at home. It’s the type of really tangible and real market shopping that is very hard to find in Australia.
K and I have tried to replicate some of the delicious fresh Vietnamese dishes that we had while we were overseas. We feel particularly virtuous and healthy when we make ourselves a Vietnamese salad, with a mix of fresh herbs, lettuce, bean sprouts, chillis and vermicelli noodles, with a squeeze of lime juice and fish sauce as a dressing. All fresh produce – but not the same quality as the produce we saw in Vietnam. We have a while to go before we reach that pinnacle of fresh healthy eating exemplified by the Vietnamese!
Are you more of a fresh food eater, or a processed food consumer? How do you reconcile your food ethics with your lifestyle?