Sunday, December 13, 2009

Food Rant

At present I have three jobs. Two of which I love and one that is made tolerable by listening to books by way of MP3s. I have joked and said that this job has made me well read to. My recent books of choice have mostly revolved around food. I have listened to two Michael Pollan books, one Berry Sears book and most recently a book written by Barbra Kingsolver.

There is a thread that weaves through all of these books, eat food. Michael Pollan states that we, as Americans, have ventured away from this notion. We now eat food like substances. We have come to believe that better living through chemicals is gospel. A perfect example of this is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. The ingredients in traditional macaroni and cheese are: eggs, salt, flour, water and cheese (curdled milk of sheep, goats, or cow). The ingredients in Kraft Macaroni and cheese are: wheat flour, niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid, salt, whey, milk fat, milk protein concentrate, sodium tripolyphosphate, calcium phosphate, milk, yellow 5, yellow 6, enzymes, and cheese culture.

The absurdity of our western eating habits hit Florida at the end of the 2003-2004 tomato growing season. For those of you not familiar with the Ugly Tomato, let me clue you in. The Ugly tomato is an heirloom variety that is, well… less than photogenic. At the end of the 2003-2004 growing season the Florida Tomato Committee refused to allow these amazingly delicious tomatoes to be sold outside of Florida. The Florida Tomato Committee felt that the Ugly does not meet its rigorous standards, which are based on size and shape, but not taste. They claimed that the Ugly was too misshapen and would damage the reputation of the Florida marketplace, resulting in millions of pounds of tasty tomatoes wasted.

The beauty of Durham NC is the ease of ability to buy local. You could eat at a different restaurant every meal Monday through Friday and never hit a chain restaurant. Even if you venture into large grocery Chain store you can buy bread from the locally owned and operated 9th Street Bakery. Or buy milk and ice cream from a farm on the outskirts of town. You can buy coffee from the local roaster Counter Culture. These may seem like small things but by buying these products you are helping people in your neighborhood make a living, and more than likely eating healthier. The fast food nation that we have become know as is not who we really are. When people from other nations are asked wheat is American food, the answer will inevitably begin with a Mc. Is that our heritage? I hope not. I have family that live in several corners of this country and when I think of eating with them it does not include a Styrofoam container. When I am with my grandmother that resides in Connecticut, I envision lobster, clam chowder and streamed muscles. When I am with Nanny in Gainesville Florida it is fried chicken, gravy, and casseroles. There are amazing foods from all corners of this country: Navajo fry bread, seafood gumbo, and apple pie. We have a wide variety of food in this country that is a beautiful amalgamation of the people who live here.

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