Taste. It is a sense we use daily, yet one we often do not use to its utmost capacity. Caught up in our busy lives, we often move through our days paying divided attention to what is going on around us. When we slow down, however, we smell and see things: The first daffodil to bloom in your neighbor's yard, the gray cat sitting in the window watching intently as you pass by, the interesting piles of spring cleaning discards lining the streets. Our sense of taste can be heightened, too, with attention; if we eat more slowly, we taste more. Why, then, do we seldom take time to truly savor our food? Oftentimes, I encounter people seeking quick healthy meal ideas and recipes. After all, we need a few of those in our recipe file...or on our Pinterest board...because for many of us, our days are quite busy and we know well enough that we do not want to run to rely on fast food restaurants or a bag of chips for sustenance. But, quick healthy meals as a lifestyle are missing an essential component in the nourishment process, time. Taking the time to cook, the time to taste our food, the time to converse with family and friends while sitting at the table, taking adequate time to digest...these are all a part of the process of nourishment, eating well and cultivating good health. The way we eat is just as important as what we eat. Now, you might reason that sitting down and slowly savoring chicken nuggets cannot actually be better than hurriedly and mindlessly stuffing baby-cut carrots into your mouth while driving or sitting at your desk. I agree. I venture to guess, however, that if we intend to sit down to savor our food, we'll start making different meal choices. Generally speaking, when we slow down our eating pace, we choose better quality food, because we are more in tune, with and aware of, what we are putting into our bodies. Consider those baby-cut carrots that were eaten in a hurried manner preferentially to a slowly savored meal of chicken nuggets...how did those carrots taste? Were they even tasted at all? Let's be honest. Baby-cut carrots (not to be confused with naturally small, tender delicious baby carrots), which are bred for uniform color and whittled down to a perfectly bite-sized cylindrical stub and packaged in a plastic bag, do not actually taste as good as carrots recently harvested from the garden, greens still intact. They also do not represent the diversity that we find when we allow carrots to grow as nature intended, of varying shapes, sizes and colors: purple, red, white, yellow, orange. We are missing out on a very aesthetic and sensory experience, from taste to sight, when we opt for the more convenient item. Spring is here, and we are fortunate to be surrounded by farms here on the Western Slope. It is nearly time to venture out and see what fresh, flavorful, colorful, locally grown food is available to us right here in town. We may decide to participate in the entire process of eating by planting a few seeds at home, or we may consider getting involved at a community garden in town, or we may visit a farmers' market or order a weekly produce share from Field to Fork CSA in Palisade...we have many options to support the valuable resource of local, fresh food.At the very least, savor your food today. Does it taste good? Does it look appetizing? Does it smell amazing? Try slowing down, however that might look for you. It might be starting with preparing and enjoying one meal a week, one meal a day, or inviting someone over to share a meal. As you slow down, you will likely begin to experience the immeasurable health benefits that accompany taking the time to appreciate your food. Jessica Stieler, R.D., is a nutritionist at Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.