Food on the Road
When I started touring full time in 2006, I was a full-on vegetarian and had been for seven years, though I had eaten salmon a few times. By the time we got to Memphis in March, it was all over. We sat down at Gus’s Fried Chicken and I ate more fried chicken than I care to admit. And it was so delicious.
Still, I was raised to believe that vegetables should be the main part of every meal. Finding healthy options while on the road is like a treasure hunt. The handheld internet device has made it easier, but for my first year of touring I didn’t have a GPS or an iPhone, and I kept track of every co-op and healthy restaurant on the trail.
The two best co-ops in I’ve found are in Ashland, OR, and Burlington, VT. There’s a fantastic restaurant in Little Rock, AR, called the Root Café that serves local veggies. One of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had was at a raw food cafe in Salt Lake City, UT. With the prevalence of Whole Foods, the healthy road is a little easier.
On my first long tour, I took a camp stove and a cooler, and I have a vivid memory of making mac and cheese at a windy rest stop in Montana. In my cooler, I always had spinach, hummus, and avocados. My go-to lunch was either tuna with spinach, avocado, and cranberries on rice cakes or lettuce wraps with hummus and cheese — meals that are much healthier and cheaper than fast food.
One particularly lean summer, at a festival I was playing, Clif Bar was handing out full-size bars. I and everyone I was traveling with made it our mission to collect as many bars as possible. We left the festival with a huge grocery bag of bars upon which we subsisted until our tummies could no longer handle it. That’s called “making the gigs pay.”
That same summer, when gasoline was approaching five dollars a gallon, we were given an economy-size jar of organic almond butter. Spoonfuls of that stuff kept us just above hungry for weeks.
While traveling, a homemade meal is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I always love playing house concerts because it’s likely I’ll be fed a meal cooked at someone’s home. I think of it as a part of our ancestry. When the Bard comes to town, you feed and house the Bard. In return, the Bard sings songs for you. That is a deeply pleasing exchange for all involved, with roots in our collective DNA.
Where is your favorite healthy restaurant in your town? Should we start a database?
PHOTO: Whole Foods Market