Road tripping and food

By Wendell Fowler

What an adventure it can be traveling the open road. America’s breathtaking beauty makes my soul smile as I cruise down the highway into 360-degree postcards of peacefully grazing livestock, unique old barns, rolling meadows and pastures with meandering streams; lakes blending with the horizon, sun-dappled mountains painted in shades of blue, gray, brown and green rising into a sea of cottony clouds and blue skies speckled with hungry hawks chasing small birds.

I also viewed semi’s barreling and swerving down the road, distracted texters, tailgate bullies, signs warning of drug activity, the potential of hotel bedbugs, leering strangers and creepy bathrooms. I enjoy people watching. This vacation when stopping for gas at rest stop food courts I surveyed portly folks, ten deep, eagerly waiting in line for fries, burgers, doughnuts and sugary frou-frou coffees. Conjured up images of insatiable Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors, “Seymore, feed me, I’m hungry!”

It’s clear we’re an obese, sickly bunch of Americans seeking ephemeral moments of pleasure to ease our fears and unhappiness. Crappy food is manufactured to make us feel good, for the moment, as these foods stimulate the holy temple to release dopamine, the feel-good drug. However, if you’re compassionately disciplined with your food choices, traveling can be daunting unless you plan ahead and have a strategy.

Vacations should be a sensible departure from normal daily routines and eating behaviors: to occasionally cheat with a self-promise to lose that five pounds, “after I get home.” Sandi and I learned when we make deals with ourselves and depart from our normal way of eating clean and choose to cheat, we’ll pay for it later.

As a rule, we avoid hard-to-digest processed junk food, fizzy sodas, doughnuts, fried animal parts, burgers and fries. Instead we plan ahead and pack what we want to eat to stay alert and energetic as we cruise so when we arrive at or destination we’re not diminished, sleepy, bitchy and dehydrated. When our packed food runs out, we google the closet grocery store exit and purchase hummus, almond butter, Ezekiel bread, salsa, guacamole, fresh fruit, sugar-free juices, veggie sticks and nuts. To prevent dehydration’s snarky side effects, we opt for Kombucha and water but no caffeine. On your next road trip, avoid the dead food outlets that line America’s highways and eventually your arteries. For a memorable, energetic vacation, have a plan, do your best and maybe listen to my #LiveRightNow Podcast on iTunes.

Chef Wendell is a lecturer and food journalist. Contact him at chefwendellfowler@gmail.com.