writer, mama, gardener, eater ...

I have a niggling suspicion that most of us have heard by now that real food, “organic” food, “local” food, is good for us. Better than Cheetos, actually. Way better.

But the fact is, Cheetos are so easy to procure. You can get them in any 7-11, supermarket, gas station, Turnpike vending machine. I have a hunch you may even find them in hospital cafeterias. And why aren’t they real food? You eat them. They taste good. You get full.

But the Cheeto is not real food. It’s processed from 21 different ingredients, many of them ending in –ate, which I won’t list because I am not picking on the Cheeto, per se. I happen to like Cheetos, although I am suspicious about food that is neither singular nor plural, that marks you as an imbiber with a greasy orange haze. (Though they are gluten-free, if that matters to you.)

I am a fallen journalist, choosing to stay home instead of hitting the newsroom each morning. I wrote about health care and did monthly restaurants: this work combines those two saliently. One of the things I still do that bears any resemblance to my former life is eat. I always ate pretty well, and over time it's gotten better: cheese popcorn gave way to air popped, soup gave way to salad gave way to organic, that kind of passage. And then, when I moved to the country full time, I started eating real food, which previously I had mostly had in summer, when farmstands in western New York State are so plentiful corn is on the honor system. Real food is the bomb.

Real food has been written about at length by many more schooled than I. It is easy to define: food in its natural state, from the ground, plant, tree or animal. There are lots of caveats to it, how and where it is grown, what nourishment it receives, how far it travels before it hits your plate, all that matters. Let’s forget those for now: food in its natural state is a perfect place to jet from.

If you’re thinking that is not easy, you’re right, it’s not. “Convenience” food has overcome our supermarket shelves. It takes time to make real food, not to mention money, and knowledge. Real food seems intimidating. They don’t sell it at the drive through. Big business has figured out that it is cheaper and easier to sell you Cheetos, with a shelf life of five years, than a raspberry, which is fragile, seasonal, and at best only peak for a few days. But with some tweaks in your shopping and cooking habits, you can gradually shift towards real food over time. It’s not as easy as changing your socks, but it’s not world peace, either.

Here’s the secret: Buy real food. Prepare it simply. Eat it up.

You don’t have to do it all at once. And you don’t have to give up Cheetos, if you don’t want to, although I can almost promise that once you start eating real food, you’ll rather beets stain your fingers, or cherries straight from the tree. There are other benefits, too, which you’ve most likely heard, but we can talk about how much better you’ll feel, and the money you will save in medical costs, later. Or not.

This site is going to try to help, providing methods that I, and other real people, use to incorporate real food into their life. Recipes, shopping tips, news, views and even some research from an amalgamate of sources to help you navigate the real food waters. You don’t have to go out and grow or kill your own, unless of course you like (and we’ll talk about that, too); there are plenty of farmers doing it now, plenty of grocers, farmers’ markets and even online cooperatives bringing it to you. It’s more work, but it’s fun. I’ll talk to people about how they bring real food into their lives, give you their recipes, take you to the farms where your food is being tended. To keep us company, maybe a few poems, or a song. And of course I hope you’ll share what you’ve learned, too.

Try it. You’ve got nothing to lose but that pesky ten pounds, your insulin or cholesterol pills, that persistent morning fog.

Try it. The food will speak for itself.