The Mindful Foodie


Hello, I'm Janet Irizarry. I am the founder of HudsonValleyEATS, a faculty member at the Culinary Institute of America, a seasoned restaurateur and a consultant… and now I'm also thrilled to introduce myself as the newest contributor to Hudson Valley News. And I couldn’t be happier to share my insights and expertise twice a month in my column, "The Mindful Foodie." In this space, we'll delve into the world of mindfulness when it comes to food and explore how it can not only bring more joy into the kitchen but also save you money, help others, and protect the planet. If you're a parent, this is also an opportunity to teach and instill wonderful values in your children.

You might already be familiar with mindfulness practitioners like Deepak Chopra or Marie Kondo, and you may have even experienced how mindfulness enhances various aspects of your life. Whether you’re brand new to mindfulness or a long-time student, I truly believe that anyone can embrace its basic principles and apply them to your relationship with food.

There are numerous benefits to becoming more mindful with food, and one of the most practical ones is that it can save you a significant amount of money at the grocery store. The average family of four throws out over $3000 worth of food that they buy but never eat; I view this as essentially throwing away money, and I believe you might too. Tackling that $3000 of food waste provides a tangible tool against inflation… and who wouldn’t want to free up all that cash for the rest of your household’s budget?

Building a mindful relationship with food has deeper benefits, too. Growing up in a household centered around the kitchen was pivotal in my own life thanks to my mother, who not only created delicious meals but also fostered family connection and conversation. I can still remember grocery shopping with her, and seeing her eyes light up as she selected fresh produce and always with such a respect for where it came from. Looking back now, I can see that this played a significant role in shaping my love for food. However, it wasn't until I volunteered at a local food pantry several years ago that I realized how much I took food for granted. Until then, I had never given it much thought beyond my love for eating, discussing it, watching food-related shows, and my passion for cooking.

As I became more mindful of food, I began to appreciate the journey it takes from the farm to the table and recognized how fortunate I was always to have enough to eat. With this newfound awareness, my approach to planning, shopping, and preparing food gradually transformed. Over time, these small changes added up to significant differences.

Not only did I reduce my grocery bills and generate less waste, but I also found a profound sense of fulfillment as I aligned my actions with values like avoiding wastefulness, being kind to the environment, and acknowledging my responsibility to others and the world. I have been surprised by how much mindfulness with food creates harmony with the world around me; it just feels right.

This sense of fulfillment and gratitude has been so impactful in my life that I wanted to share it with others so they could experience this sense of goodness as well. Yet I found that when I simply described the process – “becoming more mindful in my relationship with food” – it felt inaccessible to others, especially if the idea of mindfulness was new to them. I found that most of us need a road map, or a blueprint, to be able to figure out how to build these habits. Enter… this project!

By practicing mindfulness, you can approach food choices with non-judgmental behavior, doing what feels right for you and aligning with your values. It fosters compassion and empathy, allowing you to respond to the world around you in a way that feels genuine and fulfilling.

As a mindful foodie, you'll experience the perfect fusion of mindfulness and environmental consciousness in the realm of food. The approach blends awareness, appreciation, and intention to nourish not only your family's bodies but also their minds and souls profoundly. This approach inherently encourages sustainable practices, bringing a sense of well-being and fulfillment to everyone who engages in it.

I'm excited to embark on this mindful foodie journey with you and share tips and insights along the way. Together, we will explore food through a mindful lens that fills our bodies, minds, and souls while also doing good for others and the planet. Stay tuned for more in "The Mindful Foodie" column and be sure to follow me on Instagram @mymindfulkitchen and download my  eBook, "Becoming a Mindful Foodie”, by visiting

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