Year for the Planet Week 33: Jungle to City – How to Get Back into the Urban Food Lifestyle

Before you can fix the world, you have to fix yourself. Year for a Planet is a personal challenge to be a better human for the planet for a whole year. This year, 2017, is where I deal with my food choices.


The road to heathy sustainable eating is paved with hurdles of adaptation. I was only in Brazil for three weeks, and yet I came back to some changes. Thankfully, like most other adjustment periods in this project, it didn’t mean going back to square one; I just needed to act fast. Reintegrating back to urban living isn’t the most fun part. It’s not about trying to fit into shoes you’ve outgrown; more like you came back with different feet. And so I needed to adapt with new shoes.

1. Some foods became expensive.

Appallingly, vegetables and fruits I used to buy often suddenly became expensive in Manila. A zucchini can now cost as much as $4. Each. It’s also not the season for sweet potatoes, one of my main staples, and the ones I managed to find looked like shriveled bull’s testicles. It was quite frustrating. So I switched zucchinis for carrots, and I started incorporating more whole wheat bread into my diet. Hey, a girl’s gotta eat.

2. Things became too routine.

When transiting through several of Brazil’s airports, I went through 25% of my stash of 66 protein balls because I was desperate. That’s a lot of peanut butter and oatmeal. And so I was not in the mood to eat them again for the moment. I didn’t want to rewrite the playbook that been working for me so far, so instead I searched for other recipes that call for similar ingredients.

3. I miss certain foods in the Amazon.

It was also easy to whine about not having some things you got used to. There is no direct solution for this, as most of the things I loved in South America are impossible to find in Southeast Asia. Instead, I focused on trying to replicate certain textures and flavor profiles of these dishes, which were the ones that made me like these strange meals to begin with.

4. I freaking miss the rainforest.

Ambience is what made eating in the Amazon so unique and so I was missing an entire ecosystem, including the butterflies and dragonflies that would randomly pop by on the dinner table, the sounds of the rainforest, and all the shades of green. No indoor succulent can possibly make up for this, so eating in the city became two dimensional and boring. I tried, but there is no solution for this, though I suppose this is what made the Amazon so special to begin with—it’s irreplaceable.



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