DEAR SPROUTMAN: How do you maintain your typically raw-vegan diet when you are on the road? I always have a very hard time finding adequate food while I am traveling and wind  up eating things I would NEVER normally eat. Any suggestions? Thank you! – Joanne

DEAR JOANNE: Today is a good example of how I make my choices when I’m not at home in my own kitchen. I am in the small town of Lille, France. Through the wonders of the internet, I selected a dive of a hotel. (I guess I was in too much of a rush.) I’m in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it’s a bad neighborhood. And there’s not enough heat in the room…But let’s talk about the food.

This is an ethnic neighborhood with North African-Moroccan nationalities as best as I can tell. My choices for food were to either walk all the way back to the train station (about 20 minutes) or work with the few dim choices nearby. I chose dim.

The closest and only food market was Moroccan. It was a dirty, run down place but it had fresh vegetables…or maybe not so fresh. Actually the cilantro I bought was bent and sagging and had some black leaves. I bought it anyway and picked through it. The green peppers were acceptable but not quite crisp. The tomato was red enough, but had a soft spot. The carrot, well, I’ve had better. An endive (I’m in France after all). The avocado was in good shape. And…they had olives! Lots of them. And pickles and pickled peppers and onions. They were in open topped buckets. Far from ideal but the best thing in the store. I made a mixture. So that, along with some organic sunflower seeds I had in my bag, was dinner.

As tired as those veggies were, I am very satisfied with what I ate. It was real food. There were no sugars and no refined flours, and it only cost 2.80 Euros!

If I had food vices, I would most have certainly bought their chocolate bars, or their cookies or their rice snacks. But I didn’t because at least the last two items contained things that I don’t want in my body. Artificial flavors and colors, preservatives, sugar, and maybe a few other things I can neither read nor pronounce. I never get to a place where I am that desperate. I just can’t go there.

But any possible Food vices for me would be in the dessert category. Mostly cookies and ice cream. In my fridge at home, right now you’ll find vegan coconut ice cream (unless it’s been eaten!). I can enjoy that because it is completely healthful. And Pamela’s cookies…Do you know that brand? I know that brand intimately and also (not so intimately) know Pamela. She makes vegan, gluten-free cookies. I truly believe they should be registered with the FDA as an addictive substance.

That’s the days food news from Northern France!