Welcome to our Healthy Habit Challenge! Instead of focusing on (impossible-to-keep) new year's resolutions, this year we're challenging four writers to start a new healthy habit. These challenges aren't about cutting out sugar, going on a diet, or focused on the negative. They're about doing something new and good — and making it second-nature.
My grocery store is full of lush fruits and vegetables from all over the world, yet I only buy the same four items: apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, and string beans. These four fruits and veggies are my core group, rattling around my shopping cart every Sunday afternoon like clockwork.
It's almost like I have blinders on when I wander through the produce section. I don't notice the vibrant fennel or the firm green peppers. I barely acknowledge the leafy greens and I straight-up ignore the baby portobello mushrooms. While I'm happy to dine on these foods when I eat out, I rarely purchase them for myself to prepare at home.
However, since I started frequenting farmers markets this year and seeing how many kinds of foods are available to try, my curiosity about preparing different fruits and vegetables has grown. I bought my first delicata squash last month and it was like a lightbulb went off: My shopping routine needs a shake-up.
How did I get here?
Growing up, my parents didn't have adventurous palates, so I wasn't exposed to a wide variety of foods. My family ate the same kinds of foods day in and day out — red meat or chicken with broccoli, string beans, or potatoes. Pretty basic stuff.
And besides, having a routine takes the guesswork out of shopping. A busy Sunday when I'm racing through the store is not the best time to strategize which fruits and veggies to buy. Who needs the stress? The simplicity of having a few favorite fruits and veggies streamlines everything. If I stopped and looked around at all the foods available, I'd probably be so overwhelmed that I'd park my shopping cart near the onion bin and walk out.
What's the plan?
I'm going to buy the kinds of fruits and veggies I'd normally avoid! I'll go to the store — Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and Wegmans are my favorites — and vow to try at least three new items each visit. If it's new to my shopping cart, it'll be tossed in.
By biting the bullet and committing to buying new fruits and veggies, I'm hoping that I'll not only gain more awareness about what's available in my store, but also maybe it'll pump up my confidence as I move through the world in general. Knowledge is power and I'm taking my power back, one trip to the market at a time.
What could go wrong?
What if I try a food that's new to me — say, a kumquat — and I pick a bad one? What if I select a lousy papaya or a mushy tomatillo? Every choice is fraught when you don't have experience to draw on.
I have confidence in picking out an adequate apple. Picking out a great stalk of lemongrass or a decent parsnip? I'm way out of my league. How can I tell what makes a great artichoke? I'd like to think I'm not easily intimidated, but if you were to ask me what to do with a bulb of kohlrabi, I think I'd burst into tears.
Will I add any of these foods to my weekly rotation? Will I make some crummy picks? I'll be sure to report back with my findings. Stay tuned!