Roadtripology Rule #1
– No eating in the car –
The goal of this rule is largely to protect the sanctity of the meal, particularly the healthy meal. Convenience has catered to the automobile in a myriad of ways that we don’t even notice anymore. Fast food makes unhealthy meals endlessly available to drivers across America. The fast food and interstate systems are so symbiotic at this point that you could theoretically drive from New York to Los Angeles and only leave the driver’s seat to fill up your car and empty your tank. By the time you arrived at your destination, you would toss the fast food wrappers that had accumulated in the passenger’s seat and go about your business. That method, however, is built on the idea that a road trip or long-distance drive is a departure from the healthy routines that you promote in your daily life (assuming you do…). It doesn’t have to be that way.
So far, I have been cooking or preparing food from my tailgate every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is simple: muesli and Grapenuts with a slurry of protein powder mixed with water. It is definitely on the processed side, but it is filling, quick, and each part has identifiably real ingredients. Lunch and dinner have been dependent on roadside farm stands. I chop, spiralize, or just devour whatever I find until I am somewhere near satiated. Since the growing season is still in full swing, I decided to source the majority of my food from local farms who were harvesting their fruits and vegetables at the height of freshness. This decision has led to some of the best produce I have ever eaten, especially one plum and a few tomatoes that were simply out of this world. I can safely say that this approach to road trip eating has led to a happier, more adventurous, and healthier trip. I do realize, however, that winter will force me to reevaluate how I eat. More on that later.
None of what I just said, however, really has anything to do with the rule that this entry is supposed to be about. Or does it? By forcing yourself to stop driving and focus on your meal, you are far more inclined to choose food based on criteria other than convenience. That may mean that you choose a restaurant that has been cited as having the best macaroni and cheese in the Midwest. It may mean that you see a local eatery using entirely homegrown produce or locally raised meat and stop on a whim. Regardless of where you end up eating, your decision will be a more conscious one than if you simply made your decision based on when you needed gas or what fast food logos festooned the upcoming exit sign.
Another added bonus of this rule is that it keeps your car clean. No crumbs, condiment spills, or sticky fingers all over your steering wheel. I’d say that is reason enough right there, but the argument for higher quality food will make a far greater impact on your health and happiness wherever your road trip may be taking you.
* Roadtripology is a ongoing series focusing on the realities, opportunities, and shortcomings of life on the road.