V142: Variety Eating

I read this morning the best post on sesonal eating at Green Bean Dreams.

Eating locally means eating with the seasons. That means that apples are not in season year round. Neither are grapes. Truthfully. Even here in Northern California, fruit actually has a season.

This post made me remember my repeated refrain about Midwest grocery stores in the winter months during the fifties and sixties. I would constantly whine about how we only had apples and oranges in the winter and no other fruit. By the eighties, living in New York City, I was thrilled I could get any type fruit, vegetable or international product throughout the year.

When I moved to Phoenix in the early 90’s I found the grocery stores in Scottsdale were too white bread for my taste buds. Where were the ethnic foods that were my palate’s preference? Gradually, I found this improved over the next decade and when I moved out of Scottsdale. Then right about the time I am happy to purchase my heart’s desire in variety and at a cheap price, I learn the horror that is this food production, import and delivery system in America.

Let me please remember what this lack of information and sense of entitlement felt like, so that I can empathize with so many sheeple’s utter cluelessness. Once a person learns something, it is really tough to bring back what it was to be ignorant or unaware of something. It is like science fiction sometimes to see a big looming backdrop with all the characters around you totally unaware of the scene where they are standing.

For me right now that backdrop is world hunger. I just can’t help feeling the tragedy that our rich country’s leaders and our own food purchasing habits have created. I will doubtless expand on this in another post, but my thoughts today are with the innocents who are starving.

I believe there is a direct relationship between my appetite and this reality. I haven’t shopped at the farmer’s market in the past several weeks. I know that I am sad because of life’s memories and losses. But, I think it is more. I just don’t think that I can’t tap into that foody part of me right now or in the near future. In the past one of my shared pleasures was cooking with my son and last holiday season it didn’t properly kick in. I’ve watched hundreds of hours of Food Network programs and have said in the past, “My goal in life is to go to lunch.” Hell, my son is in the restaurant business and hopes to open his own one day. But my own eating and interests have changed.

It is easy to even forget how I have been moving in just the last 8 years from:

  • frugal eating that concentrated on bulk foods, generic brands, cheap cuts of meat, whole chickens & fresh produce to
  • low carbohydrate eating plan with variety proteins of meats, nuts, or eggs with fresh produce for every meal to
  • vegan meals with no meat, dairy or eggs, no prepared or convenience foods and more organic sources like CSA and farmer’s market to
  • my current eating that combines bulk foods, protein from nuts and eggs; yogurt, coffee, seasonings and oil from the store and produce from the farmer’s market.
  • Oh, and the several meals each month at my son’s restaurant for meat dishes and the occasional crap purchase like salty chips, just because.

But, I simply can’t unlearn all that I have been reading about Agri-Business and chemical farming, factory farming of livestock / chickens, Post-Oil issues of food being picked early and shipped thousands of miles, the slave labor issues of farm workers in this country and around the world. I have recently been reading and following the blogosphere devoted to organic farming and eating locally for a couple years. The general public isn’t even aware of this information or these issues beyond the occasional hysteria piece and the misinformation about fats, cholesterol, beta carotene, blah, blah, blah fluff.

Now my overwhelming sense is to eat as simply as possible. I don’t seem to want to create inspired meals for myself and certainly haven’t felt like hosting guests around my table. The fat acceptance movement helped me let go of massive guilt about what, how, where and when I was eating – like a guilty child.

Growing food feels more engaging than preparing or eating food. Best thing would be to walk through the garden, harvest, wash dust off, cut biggest chunks, toss with oil and lemon, then season and eat. My garden isn’t quite there yet. Right now it feels like a treat to get something in the solar cooker and on my plate with very little thought and no further resource impact other than some water and to feel satisfied (not-hungry) when I am done.

I just had a funny thought. When I made a decision a quarter of a century ago to be celibate, I worried that the dragon (my sexual drive) would give me a battle. When it didn’t happen I was just grateful. Over time my relief continued to grow - happy that the dragon slept. I am at a similar juncture here. After several years I am beginning to think that eating is primarily fuel rather than an orgasmic experience for me. I enjoy some things more than others, I can’t eat the bitter greens I overcooked and I crave salty or sweet tastes. It isn’t that I am undiscerning or without enthusiasm. I am just not as interested in making each meal a peak experience as I once was.

This could not have come at a better time. Variety in my eating is not as vital as it once was. Seasonal and local eating doesn’t seem terribly onerous – just tough to find things. I push myself to discover foods I don’t know about every week. I want to continue to do this. I am also glad I get so many tips from my favorite bloggers on how to prepare things. I don’t have to go out of my way any longer to please my palate. I am grateful for yet another freedom. Wants are so demanding, needs are less so.


UK artist Andrew Fox

Seasonal eating design Things To Try Eating (whilst as fresh as reasonably possible)

A diagram showing seasonal food, with an emphasis on the UK, Europe and areas of North America. This is a work-in-progress, but take a look at the latest version. (4th January 2004)

The photo of the child was taken in Sudan by Kevin Carter for LIFE magazine in 1993. It won the Pulitzer Prize for photography.

1 comment:

Rosa said...

The thing that photo reminds me of the most is a passage from a fiction book about the slave trade, about the babies being fat and ornamented and oiled so their skin was clean and soft, before they were taken. That's what the monster of capitalism does, and then tries to pretend that those children were not beloved or cared for in the first place, that they were extras like a third litter of kittens.

I think my peak garden experience is eating weeds - something about cleaning out my beds to plant *and eating what grew there after I harvested last fall* just makes me really, really happy (it's lambsquarter season here.)