Food Pyramid, or Food Box?

Times are changing, that’s for sure, but that’s nothing new. The only guarantee in life is change. But for something simple as grocery shopping or meal prepping, the change has been quite dramatic recently.

With Amazon recently buying up Whole Foods, it’s come to my attention that people are really changing how they buy and prepare their food. Online grocery shopping and meal prep boxes are a new norm that, for someone who is so accustomed to going grocery shopping every week and making my own food when living on my own, fitting technology and convenience into that mix doesn’t feel natural to me. Not yet, at least.

See, unlike most people, I love going grocery shopping. Doing errands in general, but I enjoy going through the grocery store aisles and picking out exactly what I want. It’s the process of it that is somehow enjoyable to me. I wouldn’t want to give that up.

And then comes the freedom, albeit slight anxiety, of living on your own and making food probably for the first time. It’s pretty easy to follow recipes and hope for the best, but there’s also joy from experimentation, the opportunity to really focus on flavor combinations and nutrients you’re putting into your body. You have that utmost control, and that is very satisfying.

I forgot to mention, although it’s not available anywhere near me in the lonely Midwest, applications like Postmates can have food ready and delivered to you from anywhere, from any restaurant. Pizza delivery has become anything delivery. Even a new phone app available through my university’s dining service allows students to order food ahead of time and pick it up, beating out others standing in line. All of these perks, just to have food as soon and as easily as possible.

However, I do see the appeal of these new fads taking the country by storm. I can think of many people who would want nothing more than to open the door and have all of their food delivered to them. The next appropriate step then is to have meals specifically sent to you so that yes, you’re the one cooking, but all the guesswork, the ingredients and measuring out of portions, is done for you. It’s as close as you can get to having a personal chef there curating a menu.

Do I see these changes as bad things? No, because just as we evolve and brainstorm new ideas with convenience and immediate results in mind, something like a meal-in-a-box is the best of both worlds. You have better ingredients than microwave TV dinners, but it’s a similar concept of taking out the guesswork. Obviously at this point, these boxes come with hefty price tags, but as we wade through the many new companies available, inevitably one company will come out with practicality on the chef and their wallet.

But from all of this innovation, are we losing sight of what it means to take individual initiative for our health? In a way, meal subscription boxes are a forward step for people who rely solely on fast food and restaurants. It’s a middle ground to learn the ropes of cooking and choosing healthier options, but it shouldn’t be an end-all, sustainable choice. Besides the cost, I do find value in consciously choosing recipes and foods that work best for you. We aren’t all going to fit into a box of what we want and should eat, no matter how easy that would be. Budgeting out for food, choosing healthy options and preparing them are all important life skills that we shouldn’t take for granted.

Not to mention, I haven’t heard of a solely plant-based meal subscription, as most boxes stick to the same sort of “diet” you choose without much experimentation from there. Except you’ll never know what you might like unless you just go out and try it. Again, the meal prep boxes are a starting point, but from there, you shouldn’t feel reliant on a business for deciding every bite you eat. That’s a stretch right there, yes, but who knows where this trend might lead? It could die off, or it could grow. We should be aware consumers as to what is just a passing fad and is actually a good choice for us.

It goes back to my thoughts on the importance of knowledge, of learning for yourself and not relying entirely upon industries and technologies that leave little room for personal growth. We’ll never learn how to choose the right foods for us and prepare them if we’re constantly using meal prep boxes and delivery services. Just like food, everything in moderation is key.

But I must add, if it’s a better deal to find some pantry staples online, I’m all for a good deal.  We just cannot forget supporting local businesses and farmers. Get produce from local grocery stores and farmers markets. Make sure you’re eating an abundance of whole, plant-based foods. Learn how to seek out the nutrients your body craves and options that not only benefit yourself, but the environment around you. I guess you could say, think outside the box.

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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