It’s the beginning of a brand new year, with lots of hope of great things to come in the twelve months that lay ahead. I know that for many of you, it also means a new set of resolutions.
Resolutions that make us better people but often are hard to fulfill, like getting more exercise, paying bills on time, cooking healthier meals, and playing more with our kids. Some of us may even go as far as to try and drink less! In my experience, resolutions are something that we make with good intentions, but always end in disappointment. This year, I’m making a list of resolutions that I know will be impossible not to live by, and I hope that you’ll agree. They’re things that will make you feel good while also having a great time. And as you could expect, you’ll be eating well, too.
Take my word for it: in 2015, I am going to be doing a lot more scuba diving. This doesn’t mean I will be on vacation the entire year, but when I have the opportunity to do it, I will not pass it up. SCUBA stands for self-contained underwater breathing apparatus, because you need to be certified to use special equipment that allows you to swim deep into the depths of the ocean. I got my certification a couple of years ago and have been fascinated with underwater life ever since. It is an entirely different world down there!
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) January 15, 2015
Filled with astonishing marine life, beautiful coral reefs and even some historical landmarks, like shipwrecks, for you to discover. In some places, it’s actually encouraged to hunt dangerous species that are a threat to the environment, so sometimes you get a meal out of your adventure, too. Being 100 feet below the surface of the ocean is the most calming thing you will ever do, so pull on your flippers and chalk this one up to your resolution for mental health. If water is not your thing, then try something that will connect you to nature and give you a new perspective on life. Appreciating the beauty of the world you live in is the how you should start every year.
This is not a new resolution for me, but this year I am going to always be thinking of different and innovative ways to be helping the people of the world. Ways that don’t just throw money at a problem but actually create opportunities out of them, like the work we do at World Central Kitchen and what my friend Robert Egger is doing at his non-profits DC Central Kitchen and L.A. Kitchen. One organization that I admire so much is Dog Tag Bakery here in Washington, D.C.
Created by Father Rick Curry and Connie Milstein, it helps give wounded veterans and their families a new mission in life. It’s a six-month program that includes baking, working in the store and interacting with customers who come to enjoy incredible baked goods. There is also a full course load at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies, where they can learn how to develop a new path in life in classes like marketing, finance and entrepreneurship. It’s efforts like these that remind us that charity and food come together in astonishing ways, not just as meals to be served in a soup kitchen, but as viable businesses, job training, and life-changing efforts. It can be investing in smart solutions that help people back on their feet so they can live a rewarding life.
For most of us, lighting the stove to cook a meal is the most mindless act we do each day. But for many people around the world, 3 billion to be exact, lighting the stove takes a huge toll on their livelihoods and their health. You’ve heard this from me before, but this year I urge you to start doing something about it. Buy a clean cookstove! The parabolic solar cookers from One Earth Designs use the power of the sun to help you cook a large meal for your family, while the smaller, portable stoves from GoSunStove are easy to bring anywhere, especially to a beach picnic or a barbecue. And clean cooking doesn’t ONLY mean solar cooking. Stoves like the ones from Biolite can cook a meal over an open fire in a way that doesn’t harm your health or the environment, and they even go above and beyond by creating electricity while they work. These are all affordable, reliable pieces of equipment that are at our fingertips. And in some cases, like with Biolite stoves, when you invest in these cookers, you’re investing in their cause, because the money is used to support this cause. At the very least, when more and more developed countries like ours start making these changes, it is inevitable that they will become the norm and will be more affordable and effective in the communities that need them most.
Grow Your Own Food!
The best thing I’ve done in a long time was build a vegetable garden in my backyard this past year. It is so incredible to be able to walk out the back door, dig your hands in the dirt, and have the goodness of the earth in your hands ready and willing to be a deliciously prepared meal for your family. I might go as far as to say that this past Thanksgiving was the best one my family celebrated yet, with a meal filled with freshly harvested vegetables from our garden to to be thankful for. This doesn’t just stop at fruits and vegetables, either. We also had a chicken coop in our backyard for a month!
— José Andrés (@chefjoseandres) November 27, 2014
We used a local company called RentaCoop.com that brings a brand new, fully equipped coop right to your door along with two hens that are guaranteed to lay one egg a day. Chickens don’t just live in farm country—I live in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.! Come on people! Growing your own food can be a fun way for you to live and eat healthier.
Start Paying Attention to How You and Your Country is Eating
Now more than ever, food has become a part of our government’s political agenda, and this is no time for us to take a backseat to it. We need to start speaking up about how our country’s feeding us, and demanding only the best policies from our lawmakers. Many of my friends in the industry do a great job of creating awareness around these issues, issues like GMO-labeling, how we’re feeding our kids at school or how to make healthy foods more affordable for all. The government is involved with how we eat more than you may think, so listen up and pay attention, and get the people around you to do so, too. Starting the conversation about food is the first step to making this country well fed and sustained, and if you want to follow along, my friend Tom Colicchio’s organization Food Policy Action is a great place to start.
These are the resolutions that I’m going to live by in 2015—OK, and maybe getting some more exercise, too. I hope they can be yours, too, or at least some inspiration to start making your resolutions more food-focused!
Whatever you decide to do, just remember, as Winston Churchill said, “success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm,” so just keep trying and have fun. Happy New Year to all of you, and good luck!