Where it all comes from

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Delicious, fresh picked carrots

These days, there’s a lot of talk about knowing where your food comes from. It’s why people join CSAs and shop at farmers markets, why some people won’t eat meat unless they know the animal was treated well and had a good life.

I’ll be honest and admit I’ve never been super concerned. I kind of just trust that my food’s not coming from a terrible place, that my fish weren’t caught from a river next to a nuclear waste plant or that my veggies didn’t get their water from the likes of Flint, Michigan.

But during the two weeks I spent volunteering at an orphanage in rural Pokhara, Nepal, I not only saw where every veggie and grain of rice I consumed came from and petted the cows that provided our milk, but I met the people who planted, cared for, picked, cleaned and prepared everything I ate. And I have to say, it was nice.

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Learning what’s what from the kids

I have a hard time keeping houseplants alive (RIP orchid I got for Christmas and small cactus in my kitchen) so to see a group of about 30 kids, ages ranging from two to 17, and a handful of women, run a self sustaining orphanage that feeds everyone several times a day, and feeds them well, was impressive and humbling. (And made me feel slightly incompetent for my own black thumb.)

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Learning to milk a cow… and failing

The orphanage had cows and goats (for milk only) and a small plot of land where they grew seasonal vegetables— broccoli and cauliflower while I was there— and then a separate, larger farm space  further into the country where they had rice, more vegetables, herbs and more cows and chickens (for eggs, not meat.)

The kids, from the little ones to the older teens, were involved in every part of keeping things going: watering plants, milking cows (which they taught me to do one day… and I was horrible at it), rinsing vegetables, cutting, cooking, cleaning, serving, all of it.

It all helped me appreciate the actual food in a way that I hadn’t really thought of before, to feel gratitude for actually having it and being able to eat it, for knowing that it wasn’t grown in a lab kitchen or sprayed with toxic chemicals. And any time I can further appreciate food, well that’s a great thing.

Nepal for the new year

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One of about maybe ten thousand cups of tea I had while spending January in Nepal

Every year, I overdo it with the fun in December and as soon as it’s over, I stumble into the next 12 months exhausted, broke, fat and hungover. So this year, like the last, feeling bloated and dazed, I packed my things (at the last possible minute, of course) and took off for the other side of the world.

I spent January of 2015 in Cambodia and started 2016 off in Nepal, volunteering for two weeks in lovely, oh-so-peaceful Pokhara and then spending a week or so on my own, with visits to Kathmandu and Chitwan along the way.

To be completely honest, it wasn’t an easy trip. Little luxuries like constant electricity, hot water and daily showers weren’t a part of my every day, and working at a rural orphanage provided more than a few challenging and heartbreaking moments. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great trip though. I made friends with some really wonderful people, traveled and saw new places, did yoga and meditated, relaxed, detoxed and decluttered my head. And cause you know how I roll, I ate lots of delicious things wherever I went.

In the end, the takeaway for me was an incredible sense of gratitude for the life I have at home, the one I so often bitch and moan about. Over the next few posts, I’ll regale you with stories of things eaten and good times had on what will forever in my heart be one of my favorite trips.

Little fat lies

Lest you think I haven't been eating, here's a photo of the obscene amount of dessert I consumed on Thanksgiving.

Lest you think I haven’t been eating, here’s a photo of the obscene amount of dessert I consumed on Thanksgiving.

I was recently updating my resume— something I haven’t done in years— when I got to the bottom section, the ol’ dump of skills/interests/miscellaneous fun facts about myself, and noticed I had the following lie written:

“Author of food blog, LaBuonaForchetta.wordpress.com”

I mean, I guess it’s not a lie. I really am the author of this here blog, but the way it was written makes it seem like I’m the current author, like I write in it regularly, like this is something I DO, I write, I update, I keep up the charade of being a food blogger. And THAT was the lie. Because I realized that I haven’t blogged about anything in months, and when I came here to check and realized that the last time I wrote anything was at the end of summer, back in August, I was ashamed of myself, for being a liar and a bad blogger.

So what have I been up to? Oh you know, the usual: working, gallivanting, tom foolery, and some traveling (which I’ll tell you about soon, promise). I was updating my resume cause I’ve been dealing with a nagging feeling of restlessness caused by a stalling work life, love life and personal life. I’ll spare you the details but let’s just say I need something new and fresh in my life, and the ever present mild case of anxiety I’ve been recently plagued with has also killed my desire to write.

Sorry to get all “dear diary” on you but there you have it. That’s why I’ve been away. But I’m back, here on the blog I mean, and I’m a liar no more.