Today, instead of writing a recipe, I want to talk about food literacy. What is it? Food literacy means that you have the knowledge and skills to feed yourself in a healthy manner. You don’t need to be a gourmet chef, but everyone should be able to make basic healthy dishes that include all four food groups from Canada’s Food Guide. You don’t need to do a huge assessment on the nutrition content of every food you consume, but knowing how to compare the sugar or protein of the granola bars for your lunch shouldn’t be rocket science. You don’t need to eat all organic (or raw, or vegan, or paleo, or whatever), but you should know what terms like organic, pure, or grass-fed mean on a food label, and make your decisions based on that. And you definitely don’t need to cut out treat foods or swear off chocolate or never eat take-out again, but you should know how these things fit into a healthy diet.
Food and nutrition is a complicated field right now. I do not pretend to know everything or be an expert on nutrition, cooking, food, and healthy eating, but it’s an area I’m passionate about. More importantly, I know where to go to find answers for the things I don’t know.
How can we all become more food literate?
- Cook more food at home. Trying recipes (even when they don’t work!) and getting comfortable in a kitchen will help everyone gain the confidence to keep cooking more! A object in motion stays in motion!
- Do your research. If food or diet claims are just too good to be true, look harder. Find another source. Talk to a dietitian. Don’t let yourself fall for every silly claim or fad out there.
- Choose local food as much as you can and buy in season as much as possible. This could mean growing some of your own food, visiting farmer’s markets and local producers, or just choosing Ontario produce over something imported when you’re in the grocery store. That being said, there are some things we just can’t grow in Canada for the most part, like bananas or citrus. This doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing, just a good attempt for some items.
- Read labels. Remember to compare serving sizes as well, to make sure you’re making the right choice. Nutrition label or ingredient statement freaking you out? See if it’s something you can make a healthier version of at home.
- Stay curious. Look for recipes. Try new foods. Find cookbooks at the library. Talk to farmers and producers. See if there’s interesting food events going on in your community or online. Talk to people around you about what you learn or try.
For more information on food literacy, check out http://www.food-literacy.ca/.
To talk to a dietitian, or for other nutrition questions, check out https://www.eatrightontario.ca.