Cooking & Entertaining Health & Fitness

Real Food Movement: What’s It All About?

Written by Tara Hall

America’s intoxication with food is perplexing. Though farmers’ markets and organic grocery chains have grown in popularity across the country over the last several years, the U.S. remains one of the most obese nations on the planet. (We came in at No. 9 out of 196 countries worldwide according to the World Health Organization’s 2007 study. Yikes.)

Our health is in serious danger, and the only way to change that scary fact is to change our behaviors. Like how and what we eat.

I’m one of those semi-healthy people. I will wholeheartedly admit that I’ve been blessed with a forgiving metabolism, but that’s definitely slowed some since entering my 30s a couple years ago. I eat mostly healthy foods, drink at least some water daily and don’t circle the parking lot looking for the closest spot. Meaning I’m okay walking a distance. Heck, sometimes I even suit up and take a swift five-mile walk.

Another interest that has kept me semi-healthy: I love the work of journalist Michael Pollan — author of “In Defense of Food,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” and others, as well as a major contributor to the eye-opening documentary, “Food, Inc.”. (OK, fine. I’ll acknowledge that I have an intellectual crush on the man. There — I said it.)

That said, there are areas I can easily improve. Particularly when it comes to what foods I choose to put in my body. So, when I first heard about the 100-Day Real Food Pledge, I grimaced (100 days?!) and then, truth be told, my curiosity piqued.

Lisa Leake and her family concocted the challenge after seeing Pollan on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and reading “In Defense of Food” in early 2010. After a couple months of thought and planning, her family of four embarked on their self-made 100 Day Real Food Pledge and, as Leake explains in detail at her blog, it changed their lives. And their taste buds. And their health.

The premise is simple really: Eat whole foods that, as Leake puts it, “are more a product of nature than a product of industry.” No more than one or two ingredients tops (and dependent on what that second ingredient is.) No refined grains, no refined sweeteners, no fried foods, no fast food.

And the family did. All of them. And in the months since, Leake has continued writing about her food adventures, finding new ways to eat real foods and maintain the healthy lifestyle they converted to.

The experience also spawned another set of challenges, which she’s labelled 100 Days of Mini-Pledges. I think I should start there because 10 days isn’t nearly as daunting as 100, right?

So who’s in? Is there anyone else out there willing to embark on this plan with me and shake their eating habits up a bit? Because I’d really like to be healthier and if I can’t take this baby step, I think it’s safe to say I’m not really giving it a fair shot.

About the author

Tara Hall

For the longest time, Texas transplant Tara Hall wanted to be a profiler when she grew up. A bona fide FBI agent with mad analytic skills who could take on crime and the jacked up minds that commit it.

Instead, the long and winding road has led straight to writing.

It all started with an obscure undergrad study spot: the usually empty upstairs of a local live music dive in Austin, TX. Psychology books in tow, Tara would grab a seat in the balcony and read her assignments between performances of local musicians, ultimately leading to an internship with Austin's Citysearch office in the late '90s.

Skip ahead a little more than a decade to present-day. Tara now spends her time interviewing musicians, researching stories and penning articles for entertainment-centered publications and websites such as Metro.pop magazine and SoundSpike.com.

Best part of the job: Researching topics I'm perplexed by and interested in.

Secretly obsessed with: Eyelash extensions. Instant femininity and loads of compliments!

Current dream vacation: An exotic beach locale with a beach bag full of new fiction. A hot man alongside wouldn't hurt either.

Theme song: Nina Simone's "Feeling Good"

Snacking on: Light rye Wasa crackers, little dollop of Dijon and thinly sliced turkey. That, or a spoonful of Nutella, my semi-healthy chocolate fix.

If trapped on a desert island: Cherry Chapstick and a fun, resourceful companion.