I247: Ingredients


in•gre•di•ent n An element in a mixture or compound.

[Middle English, from Latin ingredi ns, ingredient-, present participle of ingred , to enter; see ingress.]

In a world of increasingly simplistic terms, ingredient seems like a very old fashioned word. When we speak of food, the word ingredient immediately conjures up recipe. If you type recipe card into a Flickr search you will find pages of cute type designs and then a frightening array of beige food recipes from the 40’s and 50’s. What am I saying? There are the snoring recipes of the 60’s and 70’s too. I dare you to snag a recipe that doesn’t list an ingredient that is either a meat or sweet or made with either jello or canned soup. (I feel that phrase would work in a hip hop song.) Speaking of music . . .

Okay, I can’t resist sharing this one of an Elvis collection, a hamburger steak with bell pepper and onion fried in 3 T Crisco and covered with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup to cook in the oven for another full hour. (Admit it, you had a body shudder reading that didn’t you?) I have ranted about my disdain for the colorless, overcooked food of my childhood. I find that more and more I am not just railing and rebelling against my childhood, I am seeing the systematic way the agribusiness grew to the staggering monoculture monopoly it is now.

Now cue the orchestra for ominous minor chords, the spooky music . . .
  • secret ingredients
  • active ingredients
See, ingredients now mean more sinister elements to me. Those two adjectives, secret and active connote subterfuge. Just tell us what the fuck it is, where it is from and how much of it is used. If it is a good thing, you would think the makers would be proud and bragging openly about the quality parts. Well, no it isn’t for us or about us it seems. The ingredients are for the marketplace – to preserve, to mask, genetically modify and I maintain to addict. We must vote with our dollars and simply refuse to buy these mystery foods. I quoted Barbara Kingsolver in June:
… we have in every part of the world lost control of our food systems to agribusiness… [referring to Monsanto] a number of companies… have quite systematically removed seed banks, have contaminated [and] diminished the genetic material that all people in the world have with which to feed themselves, and it’s a terrifying problem. [T]he only way we can reclaim control over our food systems is to [first] step away, to any extent that we can, from the dismal presumption that it’s too late, because it’s not, it can’t be (we owe this to our kids to try) and to try whatever we can to reinvest in [and re-energize] our local [diversified and sustainable] food systems. If you can do that, you are helping the farmers in India because you’re walking away from agribusiness; you are forcing them to relinquish absolute control.

On Sunday at the Farmer’s Market I had the most surprisingly pleasant experience. I headed over with my basket and bag. I have been using the basket for weeks now as a way to collect eggs without having to use the styrofoam carton (even though I returned it to the farmer, I just didn’t like having it around. Purist?)

But, on Sunday when I carried my basket and filled it gradually; I had people ask me if the food was real. I even had several of the farmers and vendors raving about how good the food looked. We have been using paper and plastic so long people forget about what came before. Shopping baskets used to be common. I was amazed that simply seeing the different foods, the ingredients plainly displayed was so appealing to others besides me. Strangers said things as I walked by. I heard that it looked too good to be real. Can you imagine?

And take note, I purchased the inexpensive options. (I debate about titling this post inexpensive ingredients). These items are locally grown and mostly all organic. A couple items are no pesticide, but they don’t have the full organic rating. I got 6 oranges for a dollar, lettuce for $2, grapes for $2.75 /lb and potatoes for $2/lb. I splurged on the Japanese eggplant, and a few fingerling potatoes to add to my red russets, but that was all. Whole food, simple ingredients are a wonder to behold.

Old recipe image
Elvis recipe image


Rosa said...

Your basket is beautiful. I am spending *so much* money on food right now, because we're canning and drying for winter, it's crazy. I have a bin of apples and a big colander full of tomatos that weren't ripe last Sunday on my counter. Food glut!

I tried to go to the Peace Island Picnic today and it was the wrong day! I feel so dumb. We might go after work tomorrow and be part of the big human peace sign, if things sound safe around 4 pm. But in our trek around the park wondering why nobody else was there (they had the warning signs - NO BANNERS OR OUTSIDE SIGNS - and the portapotties and everything, but nobody was there except some Parks dudes busily mowing & spraying the grass) but we found lots of purslane in the neighborhood, so now my friend can identify purslane and both our kids are at least marginally willing to eat it.

katecontinued said...

Rosa, I am jealous of your food preservation push.

We just didn't get enough yield from anything. I thought about buying and preserving - but I don't want to spend and don't like most things canned. See, I don't particularly like sweet stuff or canned tomatoes. That eliminates most of what people seem to can. Also, I live in Southern California. I will simply try to keep growing things.

I need to explore purslane because I don't know fuckall about it.

That RNC is . . . words fail me. Wake me when it is over.

Rosa said...

Just today, and then all clear!

We will eat as many dried apples as we have. I have not found the amount of dried fruit we can preserve and have any left over.

This year it will definitely not be enough. The first apples came out two weeks ago, and they had first frost up north last night - I think we can probably make it through the end of September down here, and but it's not guaranteed.

I'm jealous of your climate.

Chile said...

People don't seem to know what real food looks like anymore. If it doesn't come from a box, a can, or encased in plastic, it's foreign to them. And God forbid it should actually have farm dirt on it. Eek! ;-)

katecontinued said...

Rosa, You have every right to be jealous. It is paradise. I don't really feel like being around this many white people of affluence feels very good (despite all the zillion advantages of entitlement making life simpler). I guess I simply mean the presumptions of the affluent are difficult if one has a conscience.

Back to climate . . . It is wonderful. And, if there was the rainfall or water you have there, it would be perfect. The thing is . . . this climate is headed north according to the computer models. When you are my age you might be farming year round.

katecontinued said...

Chile, I am really struck by this. Yesterday I walked around with some okra a neighbor grew and gave to me. Adults who don't know what it is . . . This has been true for more than 15 years. Countless times grocery checkers would hold up some produce I placed on the line and have no idea what it was. And, Chile, I almost never buy the exotics. I call these places Stupor Markets now.