That’s “second part” to the previous France Nutrition post.
So, here’s what I paid close attention to this time around visiting my folks: food quality. I always did, but with a more insightful and critical look.
WHAT PEOPLE BUY
I am mostly focusing on the farmers’ market, there is a ton of fresh, organic and palatable goods. I am used to the bountiful markets in Los Angeles, where we have amazing conditions to grow just about anything all year long, be it for a few seasonal items, without having to resort to importing (which has its “green” consequences, besides the rapid loss of nutrients when produce transits). Produce stands are aplenty, and lines to purchase the goods are proportionally long. People like their produce here. It’s a show, sellers entertain everyone, address buyers by first name, everyone’s loyal to their produce “guy” or “gal”.
The “protein” stands are the same too. Butcher, cheese, fish stands have everything on amazing displays and make foods I wouldn’t consider ingesting appealing, foods the Paleo diet aficionados make regular consumption of (parts like kidneys, liver or any other part I consider, as most people do, “gross”).
HOW PEOPLE LOOK
I didn’t see many overweight people. Maybe by a few pounds, but most folks look “spry”. You’ve got crowds, narrow streets, you gotta be able to move! People do walk a lot, carrying their loot, at all ages. Definitely not the most sedentary culture (at least until they make it home and sit down to eat for hours on end). This is all in the suburbs, where American fast food joints haven’t made a huge impact like they do in Paris. Apparently, I hear there is a growing rate of obesity that is matched by the expansion of chains like McDonald’s. I did see a few Subway restaurants, so it’s not all bad (their breads smelled so fresh too, just walking by. Aah, the French bread culture…)
However, what I also noticed is that people look a little “worn out”, like they’ve seen some mileage. In the 2 weeks plus my wife, son and I have been visiting over the holidays, we haven’t seen much daylight. Not because we’re couped up indoors, but because the light outside would make any existing vampire seek French citizenship! It’s dark till 10AM, and back to dark shortly after 4PM. The light in-between makes you want to snuggle by a fire with a book and warm beverage. Yeah, cozy, but it’s a drag after a while. I definitely felt the lack of energy as a result, especially when 8AM feels like 4AM. Not much vitamin D there!
So, to summarize: I am grateful for the farmers markets in L.A., as well as L.A.’s sunlight. I am also grateful for my upbringing on fresh foods, never processed!