Tuesday, August 23, 2011

An epilogue

Now that I've had a week to relax after finishing the 365 days, I thought it might be fitting to write an epilogue of sorts. It's still hard for me to believe that I actually finished this endeavor, and since I completed, I've definitely had to make some adjustments.

One major thing that's changed is the fact that I don't have to go shopping anymore. Over the course of the last year, the responsibility of shopping always loomed over everything else in my life. Since I found most of my new foods at markets, I was luckily able to stockpile things to last me a few days. Sometimes I was able to get by for a couple weeks, especially if I found something unplanned during a restaurant meal. However, even stockpiling presented problems. If I bought anything fresh, I had to worry about it spoiling before I got to eat it, therefore wasting the purchase. Regarding the actual shopping, it was extremely difficult to find new options that weren't on Buford Highway. The average grocery store rarely offered anything new for me, and even the more exotic markets on Bu-Hi got redundant quickly. I frequently worried that I was repeating myself too often, but that's impossible to avoid when you're trying to eat a new food every day for a year.

Another shopping issue was the money. That was a major concern before I started, and I worried that taking on the project would cause me to spend much more than I anticipated. I tried to keep most of my market purchases under $5, and most of them ended up costing me much less than that. It would have been great if I'd had an unlimited budget to spend on unusual imported cheeses and fancy pates and terrines (both of which I love), but since I didn't, I tried really hard to keep each purchase affordable. The idea of investing too much money into something that might suck wasn't feasible for me, so I tried to make sure I was really interested in anything that was more expensive. I was able to score a lot of items for free (especially at the Whole Foods hot bar), and when possible, I worked a new food into a dinner I was already paying for. I did have a few splurges here and there, but for the most part, I didn't spend nearly as much as I thought I would.

The other big issue was the blogging itself. The self-imposed obligation to blog once a day for a year straight was easy on some days and extremely difficult on others. In addition, I constantly worried that something would happen that would keep me from blogging before the end of the day. What if I got in a car wreck, or got sick or injured? I realize that those things are considerably worse than missing a day of the blog, but if any of those had happened, the whole thing would have been over. I didn't want anything to happen that would ruin all my hard work. Also, trying to write somewhat creatively every day was tough. On some days, I just wasn't feeling it, especially when I ate something new that didn't inspire me. In my opinion, my best posts came from days where I ate something really good - or really bad. I found creative inspiration in the extremes, and the foods that fell in the middle were often hard to write about. Not every food can be good, and that was a lesson I quickly learned.

Now that it's all over, it strangely feels like I should still be doing it. The blog became such a huge part of my routine during the last year, and I've caught myself on several occasions during the last week thinking "wow, I need to go shopping" or "I need to go ahead and write my blog for today." I guess that's to be expected when you commit so much time to something for so long. Despite all that, it honestly feels great to not have the weight of finishing hanging over me. I can eat what I want, when I want, and I don't have to blog about any of it if I don't want to. That feels good.

The only negative aspect of completing the blog that I can think of is how the whole process changed how I feel about discovering new food. Before I started, visiting places like the Buford Highway Farmers Market was thrilling every single time. After getting a few months into the blog, the thrill diminished. I sometimes looked at shopping as just an obligation instead of a fun learning experience, and honestly, there were some days when it was anything but fun. The concept of something you love becoming an obligation was often difficult for me to grasp, and now that it's over, it's going to take some time for me to regain my excitement for finding and eating new things. I haven't tried anything new at all since I finished, but once I recharge, I believe the excitement will return.

A lot of you already know that I'm going to continue blogging. My plan is to keep the original idea going, but only blog when I feel like it. That could mean once a week, once every 2 weeks, once a month...who knows? If I eat something new, interesting, or just plain special that I want to share with my readers, I'll definitely post about it. However, I can honestly say that I will never take on another project like the one I just finished. I had fun and learned more than I ever anticipated, but the daily requirement is one I do not wish to repeat.

This is officially the last post I'll put up at this address. Thanks again to all of you that followed along, and for all future updates, please visit www.whoeatsthatstuff.wordpress.com.

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