Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Food Desert

Another airport, another lesson. Once you pass beyond security screening at most airports, you enter a food desert. If you're hungry, you can choose from familiar fast food chains and, if you're lucky, a quick service sit down spot or a locally owned bar that serves food.

If you're seeking real, whole healthy food from nature you have to be a detective. You have to sleuth about looking in cases and on counters. You need to be strong as you walk by the old familiar choices.

What are you seeking? Non-processed food. Things without added sugar, fake sugars and salt. Things without hydrogenated or trans fats. You're searching for whole fruit and vegetables. Whole grains, legumes and greens. Maybe some nuts.

My 20+ years of business travel experience offers this advice: bring your own food (but nothing liquid or even liquid-like... I've had yogurt confiscated by the TSA). Some of my favorites: apples, avocado, almonds, celery and carrots (No dip... It is "liquid" and not healthy anyway), pumpkin seeds, a bag of leafy greens. Yes, people will look at you and not understand when you put a health feast on your tray table. Get over it.

If you find yourself in an airport without a food stash, which happens often in spite of the best intentions, head for the little deli counters. There is usually some fruit there. Most Starbucks have a fruit cup. Most news and magazine shops sell nuts or seeds in the back hanging on the wall. Look for a salad though don't use the dressing, odds are it is full of sugar or fake fats. And remember to get water so you can stay hydrated during your flight.

The bottom line... Until we amass and leverage the power of our consumer choice and spending to put pressure on what options are readily available, you will have to do the leg work, be a detective and seek out healthy foods in airports.

Consider yourself lucky. Some people get their food, every day, in communities much like the airport.

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