I got an email the other day from a woman who will soon be traveling to Germany and she was quite concerned about not being able to eat organic while on the road.
Prior to my recent trip to Costa Rica, my friends were in shock that I would even consider going abroad because it would mean being away from my local organic markets. They had no idea how I would survive. They must have believed that I would melt.
Given these two occurrences, I wanted to share my strategies for traveling and give you my thoughts on how to deal with this issue.
First off, it is important to do as much research and planning in advance. Find out the following:
- Where are the organic restaurants nearby?
- Where are the organic markets?
- Are there local farmers markets? If so, when are they?
Organic farmers markets seem to be everywhere, including the surfing town of Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica
- How much of the food in that country contains chemicals, GMOs and/or growth hormones?
In regards to pesticides, I thought that Costa Rica was very “clean” prior to traveling there. After all, it has this perception of being a very lush, green, and natural country.
Yet, when I got down there and spoke with people who were very knowledgeable about the organic situation, I learned that Costa Rica sprays its fields extensively with chemicals and that growth hormones are injected into the animals.
The perception that I had of the country was very accurate about ten years ago. Since then, however, it has changed drastically.
- Are you allowed to ship food to that country?
Shipping a good number of items in advance might be a good idea. This way you know you’ll have some of your staple foods once you arrive.
Interestingly enough, my ex-pat friends in Costa Rica told me that no food items can get through customs in that country.
- Try to connect with local experts or organic food consumers prior to your trip. They will be able to give you a real clear picture as to the organic scene in that part of the world.
How do you find these “experts” or organic advocates?
Post something on Craigslist, find a fanpage on Facebook of an organic restaurant in the city that you are going to, or start a discussion in an organic food group on LinkedIn.
Also, Google “organic food” to wherever you are going.
These are a few staples that I like to bring.
Chia Seeds – One of the most protein rich foods on the planet. All you need is water and you can have a nutritious meal.
Palm Sugar – An alternative sweetener that is low on the Glycemic Index and something that is very easy to travel with. Makes the chia seeds taste much better.
Goji Berries – Again, super-easy to travel with and a food that has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries.
Protein Bars – These will satiate hunger wherever you are.
There is a reason that I posted that picture above. Why?
We need to put into context the importance of food in our lives.
If we are traveling for fun, then we are going to a place that will enrich our lives.
If we are traveling for work, we are doing so because it benefits us financially.
If we live in New York City, which I do, we make the choice to live in a place where the air quality is terrible and the stress level is incredibly high. Yet, the stimulation that New York provides is something that many of us want in our lives.
In no way am I saying that organic food is not important. Organic food is incredibly important, and I spend countless hours thinking about it and writing about it.
Yet, we also need to remember the other things in our life that make us healthy and happy. If traveling fulfills us and it means that we might not be able to eat 100% organic for several meals in a row, then that is the choice that we have to make.
On the other hand, if we are eating 100% organic and having constants thought of worry, fear, negativity and complaints, how healthy are we?
Bottom Line: If you decide to travel, do the best that you can do to prepare in advance.
If that results in eating a little or a lot of organic when on the road, take into account how the trip is benefitting your life as a whole.
And remember to enjoy.
Did I eat 100% organic when I was in Costa Rica? Not even remotely close.
Did I do as much research as I could have? No.
Did the organic food that I brought serve me well? I must say that it came in real handy some days.
My friends there, who are not allowed to receive packages of food, had never heard of chia seeds or palm sugar before. So, I gave them everything that I had because I wanted them to enjoy these amazing foods that I am able to buy on a regular basis.
Looking back, I cannot remember a time when I ate less organic food in the last ten years, but it was a life-changing trip and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
And I certainly didn’t melt.