Monday, June 10, 2013

Manger

I spend a lot of time in Paris thinking about food, shopping for food and eating food.  Grocery shopping at home is a chore, whereas in Paris it is a pleasure.  I appreciate that I'm not working so I can shop for food at my leisure, sampling markets, boulangeries and pâtisseries as I stumble upon them but unlike at home stumbling upon delicious, healthy and reasonably priced food is relatively easy here. 

I am not a foodie.  I rarely read articles about restaurants and I hate when someone Instagrams a photo of a meal they were just served.  My tastes are simple; No broccoli or peanut butter, Haribo addiction, a fan of meat and seafood, bread and cheese should be served with every meal, loves strawberries and apricots, always pick the croissant with the chocolate in the middle.  Easy.  

So why is it so hard to eat well at home? If I wanted to eat the way I am eating in Paris,  it would take a lot more effort, a lot more money and I would be spending a lot more time in my car.    I feel like there is a "health tax" at home and that options like organic, locally grown food are an extravagance that few can afford.  Do you really think that the average person wants to shop at Wal-Mart or Costco and feed their families food from warehouse packs full of preservatives?  It's because they have no choice.  The luxury of spending a Sunday afternoon driving between farmers' markets to browse $9 pints of strawberries isn't an option for most people.

On average I spend between 10-12 euros a day on food here, including my daily - and expensive! - café crème.  I buy a demi-baguette, a croissant, a sandwich or salad for lunch and I usually eat market leftovers for dinner.  I market twice a week for fruit, vegetables, cheese and dinner stuff and those trips are usually between 10-18 euros.  I buy wine, water, milk and Haribo from the "big" grocery store.  A weekly trip is about 11 euros, including wine.  And I know I am spending more because I am not cooking and going out for coffees.  All of the places I frequent, including the two markets (and there are markets in every arrondissement), are no more than a 10 minute walk from my front door.  The freshness and quality of the products are unbeatable.   

I know there are no easy solutions but I think governments of all levels need to make it a priority to ensure that everyone has access to affordable, healthy food.  

Today I visited Parc Monceau, one of my favourite quiet places in Paris.  It was full of designer nannies pushing their Petit Bateau clad chargers in space-age looking strollers and retired people taking naps on benches.  Uncomfortable runners circled the perimeter of the park groaning and huffing.  It was the perfect place to visit on an almost sunny Monday.