Agriculture cooking Farm to Table food safety Health Healthy Eating Menu planning strategy

The four main questions you really need to ask about food

Answer these four questions to help build the foundation to be your own personal food guru.

Try these on for size. They’re easy to follow. Based in current science. And you can eat stuff you like.

Do I like the taste of it?

Let’s be honest. If it’s gross, you aren’t going to eat it even if “it is good for you”. If there is something that is yucky to you, there is probably an alternative. Here are two examples to help you see what I am getting at:

Kale – If you remember to eat the colors of the rainbow weekly, you have control of what choice you make within that color group. One cool thing about fruits and veggies is, the very stuff that gives them their gorgeous, delicious color is some of the same stuff that offers health benefits for us. I like spinach, broccoli, and other salad greens as well as kiwi and grapes. Not much of a kale person, although I had an amazing kale salad in Napa once. Eat green for green.  Eat orange, red, purple, yellow, you get the gist. This variety also helps with the mix of vitamins and minerals beyond those colorful benefits. Note, too, that non-starchy veggies are about 25 calories a serving, fruit is about 60 calories a serving. Then go find your rainbow.


Fried chicken – You have quite a few options. Eat it less often. Use a heart smarter oil. Pan fry instead of deep fry. When you do eat it, take the skin off. Don’t eat a whole chicken by yourself in one sitting. Add salad with a vinegar (not cream) dressing and serve glorious veggies on the side which will look way prettier than a plate full of beige food and also balance out the meal.  You know fried food is not the most nutritious choice. Why not accept that and adjust your approach? Food has meaning beyond nutrition. If fried chicken symbolizes a favorite memory, or you just want to eat hot chicken in Nashville, plan for it and move on.

Can I afford it?

coins-1015125_640It doesn’t have to be expensive to eat better. Knowledge is power. Learn about the process of food so you don’t accidentally create food waste.  Cook and store foods at proper temperature. Wash fruits and veggies before eating them. Wash your hands before cooking and eating. Read about the rules and regulations farmers follow, and learn about the rules and regulations food industry follows. There’s lots of protocols in place to help keep our food supply safe from farm to table. Isn’t that good to know? Especially when you are spending your budget to buy it, and farmers are spending their budget to grow and buy it for us and for themselves.

Do I know how to prepare it?

If you don’t know how to cut up a mango or how to store and use fresh figs, you might ingredients-498199_640 not buy them and/or it may increase your food budget accidentally (see above). If you don’t know how to cook a pork loin, you may miss a good sale and nutrition this choice has to offer. There are classes and video tutorials about tons of things. Take a knife skills class at a store that sells knives. Connect with local agriculture. Get your kitchen groove on so this is not a barrier.

Do I have any concerns about this food (health, ingredients, growing/raising, etc.)? If so, why, and who actually knows what they are talking about that can help answer my questions?

If you have medical history of any sort and/or are taking medications, this takes precedence, of course. It doesn’t change the other questions, but it does change how you will approach the answer. That’s good – that’s just personalizing your needs.


Envision yourself at an event with loads of people from diverse backgrounds. Isn’t it fun to find out what they do and where they are from? We know how to get to know a person with curiosity as our guide. Get to know your food with a similar approach.

“Where are you from?” (this is a #shoplocal/“what type of farm do you have” question)

“What do you do?” (this is your nutrition and cooking question)

swing-918942_640You have permission to have fun.

You have permission to make choices that you are most comfortable with.

We know some foods are better than others for health.

You know other people have food opinions. So do you. Differences are fun, not stressful.

There’s lots of ways to make good food and nutrition (and agriculture) choices.

It’s ok to change your mind, to ask questions, and to let others do the same.

We are not all food twins. Let our unique taste buds and approach shine.


By Kim Kirchherr

I am a dietitian working in food and fiber (agriculture) through retail, addressing opportunities to make things better for people and planet.

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