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
… 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.