There’s always a high, a passion, when I, as a fat woman, find a diet book that makes me go, “Ah HA! That’s what’s been missing! I have The Key now. I am on my way to health and smaller-ness!”
So, when I watched as people in Facebook viewed “Food, Inc.” and said things like, “I’ll never eat fast food again!” or “I’m boycotting anything Monsanto makes,” I, behind my computer screen, rolled my eyes and though, “Whatever.”
Oprah, a couple of days ago, had a show called Food 101 that talked about Food, Inc., showing scenes and talking to Michael Pollan about his new book, “Food Rules.” I was riveted from the first moment. Also on the show was the chef who created Chipotle, Steve Ells. Chipotle is an extremely conscientious fast food restaurant that uses as many local and sustainable foods as possible. Chipotle’s success proves that fast can also mean quality.
I saved the Oprah to show Sarah (who patiently watches anything I DVR for her to see) and before it was over, she said, “We’re watching that movie tonight.” It was already 11:00pm!
So, I found the movie On Demand, paid the $4.99 to see it, and we settled in, not realizing we were about to change our lives.
My mouth hung open throughout the whole movie. How could I not know these things? How could I not know that 80% of the hamburger I eat is washed in ammonia? How could I not know that only four companies owned our meat supply? How could I not know the bullies Monsanto has become, especially when it comes to the soybeans in our country (and others’)?
Monsanto, to me, was the sponsor of the 1970’s Disney World movie-in-the-round experience, Circle Vision 360. The pre-ride slide show imbedded Monsanto’s innovative ideas into our minds and demonstrated the extreme importance of making life easier around the world. Who knew they’d grow to be so monstrous as to sue a lowly soy farmer because their patented soy dust contaminated the farmer’s crops and he unwittingly had “Monsanto soybeans” growing in his dirt. How ridiculous can you get? Pretty ridiculous, apparently.
I had no idea that our government agencies that oversee food production in our country were headed by former employees of those production companies. How could I not know this? Did I really have my head that far in the sand?
Food, Inc. unveiled several different stories that they told better than I. Please, please see it if you haven’t already.
Also because of Oprah’s show, I got hungry for Michael Pollan’s books, so went to Barnes & Noble (which I haven’t done in over a year) and picked up the Food Rules and also the Omnivore’s Dilemma. I zipped through Food Rules (it’s very short, but very powerful!) and am now beginning the other.
I had to go to Costco yesterday; I usually pick up some chicken, burgers or other quickie meal, but needed to buy beer for Sarah’s poker game (or I wouldn’t have been there).
When I walked in, it was as if I was seeing/hearing what was really in there for the first time. I could feel the very few companies snickering at all the “choices” they have offered us. I was overwhelmed by the amount of soy and corn everything had – and that still sits in my cupboard at home. I randomly grabbed an item and read the contents. 15 ingredients, several of which I needed to sound out? Probably not a good choice. Look at Velveeta, Cheetos, Ghirardelli Brownie mix… and we don’t even need to question the reality that Lucky Charms isn’t… what the heck have I eaten all these years? Where are all the freaky chemicals residing in my body? I considered buying some flour in bulk, but when I saw the “ConAgra” on every bag, I made a face at it and walked on.
It’s probably too late to fix anything inside/under my skin, but snatching money and power back from the corporate giants is enough of a reason to change my eating style.
After Costco, I went to Henry’s, a smaller Whole Foods here in San Diego. There, the giant shouting was much less. I heard whispers coming from the produce area, soft, but louder voices in the dairy aisle. Poking around, I still found the demon lurking behind packages and plastic covers. You’d think I wouldn’t be able to find any items with High Fructose Corn Syrup, but there were plenty. You’d think I wouldn’t find foods with 12 ingredients, including polysyllabic chemicals keeping them “fresh” for weeks at a time, but I did. So, while I was able to find a half gallon of raw milk that came from a grass fed, free-range, sustainable farm (for $6.50 I might add), the “good” foods were still few and far between.
This weekend, I will find a Farmer’s Market and see what that’s all about.
I realize I have the luxury of only buying food for two, that my midwifery schedule allows me great amounts of time to bake bread, cook wild rice and piece together elaborate recipes; but I haven’t done that. At all. I cook as if Sarah and I work 70 hour work weeks, lazily allowing these giant companies to lull me into a stupor of inactivity.
I used to cook. When I tried to tell Meghann I don’t know how to cook, that I will have to learn, she said, “Mom, you’re lying! You used to cook all the time.” And I thought, “Hey, I did, too, didn’t I.” I used to make all the bread for my family and several others, kneading it and everything. I used to make macaroni and cheese from scratch, brownies from scratch, lovely vegetarian dishes and delicious (nutritious!) snacks for the kids and adults in the family. Where did that end? Why is it so far away I even forgot I could cook!?
At Henry’s, I bought some organic baby lettuces (albeit, in a plastic box) and some organic carrots. For dinner, I made Sarah and I salads with those carrots, added tangerines, apples, a little bit of a steak we had leftover and topped it with organic salad dressing I also grabbed. We loved it. And didn’t feel like we were lumps of flesh that needed to sleep for an hour.
So, in preparation for our move, I gave away almost all of my natural foods cookbooks, ones I’d used for 20+ years. I moaned about that this morning and Sarah looked at me without pity and said, “You have the Internet. You didn’t have that 20 years ago. You will be fine without the cookbooks.” And she is right. Was I looking for another excuse to not prepare meals in a simpler manner? (Probable.) Was I looking to buy more books? (Probable.)
But, I have you all. I can grab tons of recipes from my readers, old favorites that require real ingredients, ones that don’t come with giant nametags on them.
This kind of eating doesn’t come with a specific weight loss as a goal. There is no measuring the waist-hip ratio to see if health is improving. There will be the lowering of the Glucophage, the increase in mobility, the lessening of the weight and inflammation on my joints, the brightening of my moods, the minimizing of my over-sleeping and the increase in my focus to work and write.
And all I have to do is what La Leche League has said for 30 years: Eat as close to the earth as possible. What’s taken me so long?