I want to start by wishing a happy Valentine's Day to anybody whom I know, have known, or will know in the future (What the heck? It can't hurt anything...), who I have had familial, brotherly, sisterly, platonic, or romantic love for or friendship with, as well as anybody who has captured my interest in any way. Have a great Love day.
Now that we have that out of the way, I want to talk about what actually inspired me to write this post. It is in fact Valentine's Day that provided me todays content, but in a sort of roundabout way. I heard a good friend of mine mention last night how he had made reservations for a very nice restaurant (I actually have always wanted to eat there) for his wife and himself, two whole weeks ago.
This comment sparked a progressive thought process, which started at the astounding number of people who eat from a strangers kitchen on this and the surrounding days. I can understand from a position of wanting to do something nice, that costs time, effort, and money for your loved one. That is currently the accepted norm. Understood.
I see this also as a matter of convenience, as well. It is easy to trade our money for a food experience, and this practice (at least in developed counties) extends far beyond a couple of special days out of the year. We are so used to this convenience, that the question, "What are we going to eat?", has morphed into: "Where are we going to eat?".
While on Valentin's Day, we go to great lengths to impress our loved one's with great food in a special atmosphere, we see our daily options as businesses with brightly colored signs, and smell them in passing through the carefully ventilated scents of fried and grilled foods.
What we see as commonplace now, was at one time an extravagant, special "maybe on Friday night" or birthday occasion. The food industry grew immidiately to accommodate our "need". It is not uncommon for Americans to eat two thirds of their meals at any combination of these facilities.
What this led me to was the question, "how do we meld our need for nutritious food, with our need for convenience." One answer (and this is a tried and true method, used extensively over the years by yours truly), is to make use of a local grocery store. It seems like a lot of people only utilize this resource to collect their weekly, and (thanks to an abundance of preservatives) monthly grocery needs. However, a place such as King Soopers, has everything that one needs to put together a quick meal that fits one's fast paced lifestyle.
Almost every grocer has a great produce section (even the inner city stores are starting to carry fresh organic produce now), where you can get a serving of fruit, as well as vegetables. Most grocers now carry prewashed, prepared produce, but I have found that if you even resemble a responsible person, the will let you wash your fruit in the bathroom. Not as gross as it sounds if you are careful. A lot of produce managers will take your food in back and wash it for you, if you are kind and respectful. Right next to the produce department is the deli in most stores, and although a lot of their food is good old American "Comfort Food", it is entirely possible to find some lean meat for your protien source. Other alternatives are responsibly canned fruits (not in syrup!), veggies, and even tuna, chicken, smoked oysters or sardines. Just down the way, (if you eat dairy) you can pick up a healthy yogurt, and an unsweetened beverage.
Almost all of these stores have plasticware, napkins, condiments, and sometimes only on request, plates to make your meal consumable.
I realize that it is not as convenient as Mickey-D's drive through, but if you are one of the 68% of Americans who need to worry about their weight, or the 100% of humans who should be worried about their health, know that there are healthy options available. They may not be as abundant currently as we would like, but they are avalable!
Happy hunting, urban food seekers!