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Good Morning Airports of America

September 18, 2009

Last night I met a couple people at a local bar and we struck up a conversation. When asked what I do I mentioned my job and my lust for food and I mentioned that I had recently started a blog and I tried to explain what my blog is about. I found it difficult to describe my ideas in specifics. Food, like life, is not black and white. I spoke about growing food and cooking. Buying local vs. organic versus commercial. When I got home I decided to write down some specifics about what I want to see happen. I wrote this down. “I want people to change their eating habits.” This is a sweeping and unspecific comment, but I have just found a way to explain it.

It is 6 A.M. and I am in an airport terminal at JFK waiting for a flight. I am looking around this airport terminal and it’s full of people gripping large Styrofoam cups with the words “dunkin donuts” emblazoned across them. Most of these cups come with a tag along paper bag filled with any number of breakfast foods. The 2 men sitting across form me each pull out croissants with perfectly round discs of egg, sausage and cheese set inside them. There is a woman sitting up the row feeding bits of her sticky bun to her young daughter, an elderly couple with matching frozen drinks and sausage biscuits and a number of other people toting donut breakfasts. All of these things come wrapped in paper and plastic then placed in individual paper bags. There is a lot of waste in this style of eating.

In my suitcase I have packed my own lunch. I re-used a washed Chinese food container and filled it with sliced salami and cheese, sliced apple, carrot, cucumber and nectarine, a small handful of almonds and a few chocolate chips. Now, the problem as I feel it, is that I am the weirdo here. I am the person with the most bizarre food amongst all the people waiting for their flight. My own packed fresh food makes me a stand out. And as I take this in I also look around the airport at the people who are working there and notice that almost every airport employee is overweight. The people cleaning and taking tickets and the kids who work at all the food stands are all very heavy set. But it occurs to me that this is not the fault of the people who are working. There is no fresh food at the airport. In transit, there is no other option but to eat the food which is served. I have built myself a life that revolves partly around the food that I eat, but for most people it has never occurred to them to pack their own lunch of fresh produce and cheeses. To work at an airport and eat healthy and at a reasonable price you would have to pack your own lunch everyday. It is abnormal and without their friends or parents to guide them how can a person learn to eat for themselves when there is so much advertising that says, “don’t bother making your own food, let us make it for you.” I understand how hard it is to work full time, especially in a place like New York, and try to plan what you will eat 2 or 3 meals a day 7 days a week. It is difficult, but it can be done. So here is one of the goals I have settled on,

“I want to inspire and encourage the 300 million people in America to take small steps towards living a healthy life with fresh food.”

If you never cook at home, start making a habit of doing it just one meal a week, then when you get comfortable, try 2 a week, then 3 and so forth. If you are nervous, find a cooking partner and alternate weeks or split a meal weekly alternating appetizers and entrees. If every day that you work you eat lunch out, try bringing lunch from home one day a week. You can better manage what you eat and it will almost always be less expensive than anything you buy. How can I change the food habits of America and the eating habits of nearly 300 million people? I have no idea, but I am trying to find out.

* I would like to add as a side note that just as I finished writing all of this down a man and his wife sat down next to me and the man pulled a pita out of his bag and began eating it. I got very excited and told them I had just been thinking that I was the only person who packed their own food on a plane. The man said that it costs too much to eat airport food that isn’t very good anyway. They packed themselves egg white and hummus pitas and last nights eggplant parmesan. His wife said that they had packed plenty to share in case I got hungry mid flight. I thanked her very much as she got up to board the plane. They left JFK with a sack lunch and a little piece of my heart.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2009 1:52 pm

    At the airport, you forgot to mention that ALL the food also has to travel thru the x-ray scanners, further diminishing its nutritonal value.

    Excellent blog Al!!

  2. December 29, 2009 9:17 am

    Awesome post! I’m going to pack lunches for our trip to Aruba next week!
    Thanks for the tip..


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