Back in October when I began tracking everything I ate in a month using twitter, I had no idea what the list would reveal. I'd like to think my eating is pretty deliberate, so I never would have guessed how much I would learn about my eating habits - and myself - through this project. The idea was originally to help me remember everything I had eaten in the past - but it has also made me think more and more about where my next meal would come from.
While I could have just written a list the old fashioned way, I decided to take this into the digital world to exploit fun analysis tools and the ability to share. This graph shows higher word frequency by increased size. The easiest thing to notice is that I eat a lot - and I have a sweet tooth. My coworkers and roommates have long harangued me for my big meals. When you look at my eating over 54 days I was eating an average of only 4.37 meals times a day. I don't snack much - I have a large breakfast, large lunch, sometimes a mid-afternoon snack, a mid-sized dinner, and always a dessert. I ate the most on Mondays (when my roommate was always home to eat with me) and the least on Saturdays (when I would usually cook a brunch and dinner and nothing more).
My spending stayed mainly local. I spent a slightly larger percent of my income on food in October than September - 13.11% - likely because of higher prices of produce as the summer's bounty waned and because I had several restaurant-frequenting guests in town. The breakdown of where my money was spent stayed pretty similar to the preceding months:
- 52.1% of my food spending was with my CSA and the local farmer's market (by number, 72% of my meals contained home cooked elements)
- 18.3% of my food spending was at brick-and-mortar grocers (a vast majority going to nuts, chocolate, rice and pasta)
- 5.9% for ice cream (26% of my meals contained prepared or purchased foods - a good bit of which was ice cream)
- 2.3% for drinks
- 18.3% for restaurant meals (restaurant meals only constituted 8% of my meals by number of occurrences - showing how much cheaper cooking at home is!)
As much fun as analyzing the data in hindsight had been, the process itself was just as edifying. Spending the time writing what I ate was really centering - I didn't consume things mindlessly. The voyeuristic aspect of the project created an invisible pressure - knowing someone could be judging my decisions subtly pushed me to keep doing the right thing.
My aim wasn't to change my eating, but to prove that even in New York City, it's possible to eat local, healthy, good clean, fair food. Even without big brother watching, I will continue to gorge on homemade pancakes and roasted root veggies - but for now, the project is going offline. The archives are all still in the tweet-o-sphere at nleamy.