October 23


10 Principles Of Living a Food Centric Life

By Mashav Shelef

We all eat every day, right? So what does it mean to live a food-centric life? If I have to answer, I’d say that if your day revolves around food most of the time, you live a food-centric life. But how to involve food in every aspect of your life? 

“We all eat, and it would be a sad waste of opportunity to eat badly.” 

Anna Thomas

I came up with ten principles; my philosophy, in a nutshell, guides me through cooking, grocery shopping, deciding where and what to eat, and keeping me aligned with all the things I think are important. 

I hope you can take some of these principles, embrace them and make them your own. 

1. Always Be Tasting

Always Tasting is the name of this website and my motto for a good reason. I think it’s the most crucial state of mind to maintain to live your life through food. Such a simple principle, yet people often are afraid of tasting. When you learn to cook, this is the first rule you learn: taste what you’re cooking. It’s essential to taste during the cooking process, not only when the dish is done when it might be too late to fix. 

final touches to a green garlic soup
The final touches to a green garlic soup

Always be tasting, not just while cooking, but also dare to taste new things everywhere around you. Don’t be afraid to try new flavors wherever you go. If you keep an open mind about tasting things – you will broaden your horizons and discover amazing surprises. When you go grocery shopping or to the farmers’ market, keep that in mind. While you travel, especially in foreign countries and cultures that are different from what you’re used to, try to taste all the time. Think about it when you visit a new place you’ve never been to before. Taste something new when you’re eating out in a restaurant or order in a delivery: is there a dish you’d never have thought of ordering, and might it be interesting to try?

whelk in the supermarket
Did you ever try whelk in a can? Me neither.

2. Learn To Cook

Learn to cook for yourself, from scratch. It’s essential to cook a healthy, simple meal for yourself and your family to avoid being dependent on take-outs and deliveries. Only when you cook for yourself, you know what went into your dish. You don’t have to learn to cook professionally or too seriously (though this could be nice also!). But only when you know some of the basics of cooking you can appreciate a well-made dish when you taste it.

chopping veggies in a cooking workshop
Chopping veggies in a cooking workshop

3. Eat Well

Strive to eat great tasting, nutritious, balanced meals. Decrease processed and convenience foods from your diet. Keep eating everything you love but in controlled portions. Eating should make you feel good and not the opposite.

crispy tofu salad with background
Crispy tofu salad

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

4. Be Inventive

Exploit what you already have in hand, use the entire ingredient, be resourceful in the kitchen. Use leftovers to make a new delicious dish. Open your fridge, look at your pantry and try to make something out of stuff that’s already there, instead of looking up a recipe then buying a long list of ingredients for it. A recipe is just a guideline – make it your own. Use what you already have in hand, make substitutions, be creative – it pays off!

watermelon dessert
Watermelon dessert

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”

Calvin Trillin

5. Enjoy Food

Food should be enjoyable: enjoy the making of food as much as eating it. Great tasting food is one of nature’s gifts to us, so cherish it. Don’t feel guilty about eating. Food has a large part of our lives; we have to eat, so we might as well do it the right way. 

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

Luciano Pavarotti
Leanna camping with hotdog on a stick
Leanna enjoying her hotdog on a stick

“your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

6. Support Local Businesses & Buy In-Season 

Support the local economy and businesses whenever possible. Buy produce at the farmers’ markets, prefer locally-owned shops, privately owned small butchers, fishmongers, and specialty stores. Discover what your area is known for and celebrate that.

seasonal veggies framed before prepping
Beautiful seasonal vegetables

Use the produce of the season; it’s better tasting and cheaper at its peak. You don’t have to have tomatoes in your salad if it’s December; use leafy greens instead, fennel, citrus. Be aware of the season, and be patient for your favorite produce to come back.

Leanna enjoying the veggies
Leanna enjoying veggies fresh from the farm

7. Food Brings People Together

Food is universal; it’s a social platform; it brings people together better than anything. Food creates memories and opens the door to discussion. It’s an opportunity to get close to someone. Enjoy your family dinners, meals with friends, cherish the conversations around the table, and of course, good wine always pairs well with good food.

cheers israeli dinner party workshop
Cheers for another dinner around the table
passover dinner with friends
Passover dinner with friends and family

8. Reduce Waste

Strive to minimize waste, garbage, and packaging material. Recycle and compost when possible. Buy fewer disposables, use boxes more than once. Go around your day carrying a reusable bag. Refill your water bottle. Lower water waste. Buy in bulk. There are so many ways to reduce waste, and as small as they may seem, every little thing count. 

salmon bones on the baking sheet
Eat those Salmon bones, they’re delicious

9. Understand Your Food

Understand your food, where it comes from, and what it does to you. If you learn the basics of the kitchen principles, you would cook better and make better choices about your diet and your health. Learn about trends before getting sucked into them blindly. What happens to food once it enters your body? When to freeze, and how to thaw? What is gluten, and when is it important? Is it better to sprout your grains before cooking with it? Are sugar substitutes better for you? Try to make more educated decisions.

educating about umami flavors mashav
Examples of umami in different cooking elements

10. It’s Just Food

How can I write, “it’s just food” after all the other nine principles? Well, food is just food. If you take it too seriously, you can’t let yourself fully experience it. Make mistakes: oversalt it sometimes, mix some weird things at other times, order that weird “cauliflower dessert” (true story, that my friends can’t forget the atrociousness till this day). Play with it, have fun, experiment and remind yourself that, at the end of the day, it’s just food. You’re not performing open-heart surgery. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s gonna suck and no-one will eat it, but then you’ll do better next time.

empty dessert plate with caramel and spoons

“Ask not what you can do for your country. Ask what’s for lunch.”

Orson Welles

Mashav Shelef

I’m a trained chef, a food writer, a culinary traveler, a food explorer and a mom. My mission in life is to inspire and motivate people by helping them experience life through food.

Mashav Shelef

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