Summer is the season of cookouts. You can spend almost every weekend at a cookout if you want to. It’s a danger zone for those of us that are REAL foodies though, all that CAFO meat and heavily processed food. How’s a REAL foodie to survive the cookout season without looking like a food snob, making others feel guilty or simply making yourself crazy?
First: relax, you don’t have to worry about eating all REAL food all the time. Simply go, eat what you want and enjoy yourself – and don’t feel guilty. Of course if you’re going to a cookout every weekend you’ll want to have few other survival strategies.
Second: take some time to make a game plan and learn what foods are the safest choice. A hamburger is less processed and has fewer preservatives and additives than a hot dog. Plain potato or tortilla chips aren’t chocked full of artificial flavors or dyes like cheese puffs and other flavored/colored snacks.
Third: take food. I’m not saying take your own meal for yourself, take some REAL food to share with everyone. I have found that this is the best method for converting others to joy of eating REAL food. Cookouts are usually laid back events and it’s not weird or uncommon for people to bring food and most hosts are very appreciative when you bring something that you’ve spent time making. You don’t have to go out of your way to take a bunch of food, but a few key dishes will give you more than enough to fill your plate. I often take homemade burger buns, who can resist homemade rolls? People are usually so thankful when I do because let’s face it, store bought rolls usually leave a lot to be desired. Often I’ll take some ground venison for burgers as well, so people can try some game meat. Most of the people we know have mentioned that they’d love to try it someday, so it’s my way of providing us with some good meat and sharing with others something they’ve expressed interest in. Perhaps you can take some ground pastured beef and say you just wanted to share because it was so good. When you deal with issues this way you don’t come off as a food snob, you come of as someone that’s excited about something and wants to share it with others.
Then when people talk about how great your ___________ was, you have an opportunity to tell them about how you made it and why it’s so good. I’ve noticed through experience that people are usually amazed when they eat something homemade and will usually make it a point to come talk to you about it. I always tell them how I made it and why. More often than not it starts a wonderful conversation about REAL food. Even if I don’t convert people to eating REAL food, I’ve gotten a lot of people to spend a little more time thinking about where their food comes from.
Taking a plate of homegrown vegetables is also a great idea. I have yet to meet someone who isn’t excited when they see me bring a few freshly picked tomatoes from my garden to a cookout. Usually they’re oooing and ahhhing over the lovely color, the shape and the smell.
You may find however that eating too much processed food after eating mostly REAL will wreak havoc on your body – especially your digestive system. After eating REAL food for so long my body does not tolerate processed food at all. I end up with a processed food “hangover”- headache, stomachache, nausea and generally feel pretty terrible for the entire next day. If that is the case, eat before you go, then you can only eat a small amount. Taking some activated charcoal before and after you cookout meal with also help, it will help your body get rid of all of the toxins from the processed foods. If this is the case, be honest. Since most of my acquaintances read my blog, they know my food stances and they understand when I tell them “my body doesn’t handle processed food very well any more”. Usually they say “Oh, I can imagine”.
What tips do you have for surviving the cookout season as a REAL foodie?
I can also be found at Chiot’s Run where I blog daily about gardening, cooking, local eating, maple sugaring, and all kinds of stuff. You can also find me at Ethel Gloves, Simple, Green, Frugal, Co-op, and you can follow me on Twitter.