Isn’t It Organic?
I think my friends are starting to get suspicious of me.
That's what I hated about being a vegetarian: the wariness. "Oh no, here she comes again, trying to make us feel guilty about our food," or "Great, now we have to make her something without chicken broth in it," or, "Why won't she eat meat? Is she trying to poison us?"
So now that I'm blogging about seeking out local, organic, sustainably grown food, I hear things like, "You know, that beer isn't organic," and "Why should I pay fifty cents more for an organic banana that tastes like crap?" and, "Is that local gum that you're chewing?" To be fair, my friends and I have a way of chiding each other at the earliest opportunity, and the possibility that I've become neurotic about my food is just too tempting for them. However, I have a hunch that it is representative of a larger school of thought.
There's truth in humor, is what I'm saying. Meaning that, when you appear to take a stand on what you eat, especially from an ethical perspective -- people find it incredibly annoying and possibly threatening. And in America, when you find something annoying or threatening, you set to work finding inconsistencies, which is astonishingly easy to do. After all, is there anyone here who can honestly align themselves with One Thing?
I think many people also assume that I'm leaning on them to change their eating habits. Okay -- I can't totally say that's for sure not true. Of course I want people to reconsider eating factory-farmed food and/or garlic from China. However, I'm not going to go all Reborn about it. I may cook a local/organic meal and invite you over so you can be impressed and consider shopping local, but I'm not going to criticize you for buying a conventionally grown banana from California. Why would I, when there are so many good books to read in the world? Indeed, why waste my time when I could be researching my own food?
I announce here and now that I am an inconsistent, occasionally lazy, curious, and judgment-free omnivore. I am not on the 100-mile diet, I have and still do eat fast food sometimes. I continue to research my food everyday. When it comes down to it, I really don't care what you buy or eat. Much like my views on abortion or marriage equality for gays and lesbians, I support your right to choose. Of course, if factory farms came up for vote I would have to vote no, whereas I would vote "Aye" for both abortions and marriage...where was I? Oh, right -- food.
This week, like many of my weeks, I didn't always choose wisely. Joel Salatin said that if we spent the same amount of time researching our food as we did figuring out our travel plans, we'd be much healthier. I want to be a healthy person, but dammit, sometimes I'm too damn busy! Just to prove it, I bring you: A Week in the Life of an Ethicurean [Note: The following views do not necessarily represent those of other ethicureans on this blog. But they probably do.]
- I went to the farmer's market with my sister-in-law. Ashley. I recently discovered that she is as obsessed with farmer's markets as I am, and while I was busy trying to drag all of my friends out of bed to catch the choice produce, Ashley was stocking up on crazy-fresh bell peppers and melons at the same time! An enthusiastic market-loving buddy had been languishing all this time.
- I also went to the farm where I'm interning and caught up with the chicks. They already looked more alert and feathery, and it had only been four days since I had seen them. I also fed the chickens some compost (watermelon rinds, egg shells, coffee grounds, etc). I just came to buy some chicken and eggs, but Mr. Chickenman said with a wink that he knew I would love to do this chore. He said, "Just throw it down in front of them and start snapping pictures." Those suckers ate that shit right up. They were like little chicken vacuum cleaners.
- I made an eighty-percent local meal and invited friends over to eat it. A pot roast (grassfed beef, from Farmer Russell), baked squash, roasted red okra, and roasted potatoes. My husband, E.I.E.I. Ho, is the master of the pot roast, and this meal was even better than any of the other ones to date. It was the Mother of All Pot Roasts. The squash, okra, and potatoes were all local and organic. I'm getting very good at dealing with vegetables. The squash was cut in half and rubbed with a little olive oil, and a little pepper and salt, placed cut side down on a baking sheet, and roasted at about 375 degrees. For the okra, I followed Ashley's advice and drizzled a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar on it and roasted it at the same time. Likewise, the potatoes were roasted with a little butter and a lot of garlic. The only things that weren't local were the condiments and the wine. Our guests raved and raved and E. Ho and I sat beaming at each other and talked about how awesome we were for days afterward.
- I still eat a square of dark chocolate and an extremely processed graham cracker for dessert almost every night. I drink nonlocal, nonorganic alcoholic beverages. I drink Diet Coke a lot.
- After visiting the farm with my husband and my friend Cyndi, we all feverishly discussed the horrors of factory farming. Then we all went out to this local hamburger joint and ordered a hamburger. Before we purchased it, Cyndi asked if the beef was "natural," and the woman working the counter said, "It's just regular beef, nothing organic or vegan or anything." Hmm. Where does one go for vegan beef?
- The burger tasted pretty bad, although Cyndi and E. Ho were delighted with theirs. By the way, I recently discovered that Hut's Hamburgers buys from Bandera Grassfed Beef. I then went to Amy's Ice Cream and bought a scoop of coffee ice cream on a sugar cone. It was excellent.
- Planning meals is key if you want to be an ethicurean. Otherwise, there are all kinds of bad wolves to lead you off the path. One such bad wolf is Sonic Drive-In.
I should have just asked for a bowl of high fructose corn syrup.Usually I bring my own food to my job as a nanny to two boys, ages 5 and 8. However, today I did not. Usually I am able to glean semi-ethicurean items from the fridge --organic salad, carrots, or fruit. Today, however, their dad promised them a trip to Sonic for lunch. It's just one meal, I thought. So I ordered the chili cheese dog, tater tots, and a limeade. I used to love those limeades. They come with limes in them. Yes, I used to crave those tater tots. I'm not sure if it's because I have been eating more real food lately, or if it's because I felt guilty for eating that horrible food. You know, kind of like trying not to smoke and then smoking and feeling bad for smoking and saying, "I didn't even want that cigarette." In any case, I did feel a little guilty. Mostly, I felt bloated. And tired. Mostly bloated. I did like all the salt, though. I have been trying to cut down on sodium, and this meal was chock-full. Even the limeade tasted salty. The ketchup was especially salty and sweet. It was kind of like having sex with an ex -- fun, familiar, but you know it's not going to be good long-term.
Why am I telling you all this? Because I think it's easy to blog about all the stuff I do that "fits" the Ethicurean. I can write about sustainable this and local that every single day, but it doesn't really give the whole picture. We have many choices when it comes to what we eat. You can go the religious route and eat only local/organic/sustainable food, or (like me) you can focus your attention on learning about your food and thinking about the choices you are making, or you can continue eating whatever you want without a thought about whether or not it's humanely raised, imported, or even whether or not it's even food, technically. And do you know what I say to that?
Bon appetit, whatever you may eat.
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