Does anyone else think that Americans don’t know how to eat anymore? It certainly seems that way from the glut of books, food gurus, and diet programs that exist to tell us how to eat. Do we really need to be told what to eat, what not to eat, when to stop eating, whether it’s better to eat organic or things that were grown with toxic chemicals, how to tell if something even has any nutritional value at all?
C’mon. We KNOW how to eat. Okay, I’ll have to admit that’s hard to believe when you look around and see the industrially-raised, genetically-modified, chemically-enhanced, preservatived to within an inch of its life, sugar and fat-infused stuff that America claims to run on.
Maybe what I should say is that once upon a time, we knew how to eat. You ate what you could grow fairly easily and naturally wherever you happened to live. You ate what you could raise and butcher. You ate what you could catch and clean. If you were lucky, you traded with others who lived nearby – some of what you raised and preserved for some of what they killed and dried. Very few people ate to excess because very few people had an endless supply of food.
But that’s all changed. Now we seem to think it’s our god-given right to eat pineapple in the dead of a Minnesota winter, strawberries all year ’round in New England, (endless!) shrimp even if we live nowhere near the ocean. And then we wonder why these things have no taste. Or why we are changing the climate, burning holes in the ozone layer, deforesting the planet, and killing the oceans in order to make sure we have all these things whenever and wherever we want them. Or we wonder why we have to drive to the gym to run on a motorized treadmill to keep our hearts healthy or why we have an epidemic of type-2 diabetes and an emerging epidemic of childhood obesity.
It’s really no wonder. It’s because we don’t have to work for our food anymore. And because half the stuff that’s packaged and sold to us as food has no nutritional value whatsoever (and leaves us hungrier and craving more) and because somewhere along the line we’ve forgotten that we are meant to eat to live NOT live to eat. (And we’ve definitely lost all concept of portion control.)
Michael Pollan suggests that we don’t eat anything that our great-grandparents wouldn’t recognize as food. Sounds simple enough. I’d also like to see more of us get more of our food the way our great-grandparents did as well – by growing it, storing it away ourselves, cooking things from locally-made scratch and bartering and sharing with neighbors. I know, I know … there goes Eve sounding all hippie-granola. But there really is nothing quite like knowing where your food comes from, supporting your farming/cheese making/beer brewing neighbors, and getting your hands into the dirt and your own food as well. (Just please, wash them in between!) It’s healthier for the planet and healthier for you, too. And it really is how much of the rest of the world eats.
Good eating and good living!
~Deb Eve (who today is wearing her HeadStart Health & Nutrition Manager’s hat)
9 Replies to “Food Glorious (LOCAL) Food, by Deb Eve”
Posted my review of your book today!!! Loved it!
Thank you, Julie!!!! It IS a wonderful review. Have I said lately – how fabulous the Deb friends are? All of you – and most especially the ones with their own wonderful blogs (and Julie’s blog is wonderful, for anyone who hasn’t visited) – have been so kind and generous to all of the Debs. We are grateful!
Eve, I couldn’t have said it better myself. I get angry that companies are allowed to sell a product that is harmful, and call it food. It’s totally perverse. On the other hand, then you get people afraid to eat carrots because “the sugar content is too high.” The irony is, of course, that in less devleoped countries, where they eat a more basic, regulated diet, they don’t get half the diseases we do. Huh.
Mmm… did someone say “endless shrimp”? It’s a good thing I live in California, where everything grows!
I actually had a sort of life-changing moment a few years ago, at work, when I was at the vending machine before a morning meeting, and the office vegan/activist was in the kitchen at the same time. I said something like, “I need food!” and he said, “Nothing in that machine is food.”
It really has made me think over the years. We cut way back on our processed foods, but I’m afraid they’ve made their way back into my diet, big-time. 🙁 I guess I should work on that!
You know what, Katie – we make these kinds of changes in little tiny baby steps. The fact that you had that realization in front of the vending machine – and it’s stuck with you – is one of those steps. You’re getting it.
Tiffany’s right. Companies should not even be allowed to sell half the s**t they package as food. But I’m afraid in this country the almighty profit motive trumps all other concerns. Ever wonder why it says “In God We Trust” on THE DOLLAR BILL???? It really is indicative of what we worship in this country. But don’t even get me started on that ….
Along with not knowing how to eat anymore, we don’t know how to cook, either, do we? Our great-grandparents all had to learn to cook before microwaves and convenience foods. It would have been like learning to shower or tie your shoes; impossible NOT to know (unless I suppose you were a married guy but that’s another post).
With all the food-borne illness concerns, and the economic concerns, I’m a much savvier, healthier shopper these days. I’m also lucky to have a wonderful farmer’s market I can walk to (so I’m even helping with my carbon footprint!). You’re right–we’re not supposed to have strawberries in January here in Missouri. Or even in April. But the asparagus (that came from my neighbors backyard last week) was amazing.
Now, if it would just stop raining so I can plant tomatoes and basil and . . .
That’s another thing …. how amazing is that asparagus (or whatever) when it’s grown right nearby and you get it right when it’s at its peak of perfection. So many of us are so lulled into the plastic, waxy essentially tasteless food that had to be shipped across the country that we don’t even know how incredible something like fresh, local produce really is.
Well, I just planted my various varities and colors of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, herbs…blueberries, stawberries, a new fig tree, raspberries, 2 kinds of peppers, some other stuff…things I just do not eat in the winter…I just wish the beef (yeah I eat beef) tastes like it used to when you could get it at a local butcher…oh well, meat is not good for me anyway. I used to think things tasted like plastic ’cause my taste buds were getting older…now I think they just taste like plastic ’cause the are.
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