Friday, May 29, 2015

7QT~ If I Had to... (It's Hard) to Write About Food

Please humor me as I go on a little (big?) soapbox about the food culture in our country. This subject makes me subject to squirm, most likely because I know my opinions are not and will never be highly popular. But yet, I process (no pun intended!) things best by writing about them, and that is the aim and purpose of this post. Not to jump down anyone's throat. Just to clear up some thoughts that have been knocking around in my head for a while. So, that disclaimer being gotten out of our pretty way, let us proceed. Thank you for putting up with me/this.

(1) If I had to write about food, I would probably tell you about my love affair with all things foodie NY times writer Amanda Hesser, my introduction to two foodies who palpably changed my philosophy (Barbara and Molly), and this book that’s currently on my nightstand:Local Flavors.   It was recommended by Kingsolver, and it is all about shopping your local farmer's market and cooking with lots of health and lots of flavor. Boom. What more do you need? ;)

(2) But, yeah, there's more. If I had to say I had a passion about food, and then had to direct that statement into some sort of category, I would probably say- read Amanda Hesser, and then come talk to me about your fad diet. Her philosophy of food- eating it, writing about it, and mostly, cooking it- comes from the centrifugal force that is: "cooking for others."  The first book that I read by her- her second cookbook, I think- Cooking for Mr. Latte was all about how she could connect her historical eating and cooking with the now-present obligation that she had: to think about her significant other, what he liked, and how she could adapt recipes to fit and suit both his palate, and her own.  Her first book was about living in Paris and cooking for a family, and what she learned by following a French gardener around in his garden and cooking for his family. So: first:  Cook for Others. Also? Her philosophy is that food should be good, but it shouldn’t be all you think about, is at the top of my "This is the way it should be" philosophy about food.

(3) Now, I can go into food without talking about some of the practical aspects of cooking and eating. I know (I'm SURE!) that someday down the road, I will realize that I had so much yet to learn, when I look back on this post and posts like it. But practically speaking, you know who I really like and who I've learned a lot from?  Rachel Ray. Yep. There, I said it. She is down-to-earth, I like her recipes, and her philosophy that a good meal can be made in 30 minutes transformed my cooking and eating. It took the stress of the perfect, gourmet meal down a few notches for me.  However, do I still like eating gourmet food? Yes, please. Take me to Paris, France, and yes I'll want to try the ratatouille, but give me a big baguette with lots of butter, or a real, authentic European roll (with lots of real butter), or a crepe made of the finest of flour, smeared with butter, syrup, nutella, or strawberries and cream. Take me there!!!!!

(4) My question is here is- while we're talking about Paris, and places like it- is, is your diet a way to find your righteousness (apart from other things)? In other words, is it an idol, that you would be willing to part with if push came to shove? While recently reading an e-book based on an all-natural blog, I started to become frustrated. When I visited this website, I started reading comments, and I got the feeling that food (diet! diet! diet! Sell another book!), natural medicines, and herbal baths and rubs are the new Morality for our time and culture. As people commented on her posts, they seemed to eschew proper eating habits as the new "standard" and "answer" for our morally atrophied culture. Our children's behavioral problems, our ability to manage our stress and anger, and our generally ability to "be good" could be boiled down to where we shop (Whole Foods or a Farmer's Market, best), what we eat (no sugar, please and thank you), and {maybe, just maybe} how much we exercise.  Guess what? It got me fiery mad! Is diet the answer for the problems of our culture? Absolutely not.

(5) Now.... before you go clicking away, assuming that I just don't care, or before you become as fiery mad as I did ... I'll tell you this. My husband has been thinking about going "Paleo" for a while, and we've had a lot of conversations about the pro's and cons. We are health conscious. And he's basically doing Paleo except for what I feed him at dinner every night. Of course I have my opinions, but if he decides he wants to do it for real, I'll support him 100%. Cooking for others. It's hard. I know. I have a niece with Type 1 Diabetes, who is also suffering some severe allergies. I understand the constraints some families are under. I do. However, I'm not going to go knocking around my Whole 30 and No-Sugar morality, because ... if you've ever done Lent or something like it, you know that giving something up forrealz, no cheating, in the sight of God, is serious business. And it's actually really, really hard. How overwhelming to think about the kind of pressure we are under- and that we put on ourselves!- for the sake of health these days.

(6)When I read about people who attempt all of the natural DIY hacks ever to be found on Pinterest, I can't believe that they would go to such extremes, even in cases of- or under the guise of- "for their health" or "for the sake of their baby" or even, in the case of this blog I mentioned up above, “for the business.” The conundrum for me is: are you really that black and white? It is no wonder that many people do not want a lot of kids these days! Kids really are worth the struggle of pregnancy, but perfectionism will cause undue strain and hardship on you, and your body.  And remembering Hesser,  once we have kids that we must cook for, they may not like what has to be on our dietary plan, and that complicates things, now doesn't it?

(7) Are you taking extra trips to the health food store, worried about proper nutrition, or are you needlessly stressing about buying all right ingredients for your diet? Are you taking unnecessary trips to Walmart, in fear that you will get hungry for a Pop Tart in the middle of the night, and then come home empty-handed, because your craving isn't in line with your {fad} diet? I may be more favorable to a "Whole 30," than "going Paleo," but not to mention, are you finding your morality and righteousness in your diet? Because that is just about as awesome as a sandwich with no bread.;)  Or a trip to France, without wheat, dairy, or wine. It seems that all we have gleaned from this new food culture in our country is the ability to act like hamsters on a treadmill. We're going for something and doing things for something (our diet) that ultimately may bring good health, or personal success, but it will suck dry the purpose and the joy of eating right out of our lives.  My best days, honestly, are the days when I don't plan. I run to the store for the things we need, and an idea pops into my head for what to cook, sometimes as late as about 4:30pm. My kids end up eating well, and we all end up enjoying what's on the table for dinner. I think that might be the technical definition of "do not worry about what you shall eat," although eating Pop-Tarts may not be the next thing on the list in that line of thinking, although it might be on mine. ;) But it's all of it better than a disorder, right?


What do you think? :-)

adding my link to Kelly @ This Ain't The Lyceum


Christie @ Everything to someone said...

Oh wow! What timely takes for me!

I'm obsessed with food right now, and I hate it. I've been struggling with my mental and physical health and I'm just desperate for a solution. So I cut out gluten, like you do. Then dairy. Better, but there's no way of knowing if it's diet changes or just recovery.

But yesterday, I looked in the mirror and could see that I gained weight. Which is so, so frustrating. I'm always gaining weight, it seems. And I've tried the "just make healthy choices and enjoy it" approach, but I gain weight. And that makes me feel unhappy. So I'm like, what, do I REALLY have to do something as drastic as Whole30 to have a healthy relationship with food? I'm so discouraged...

Tacy said...

I think making a conscious effort toward health, and leaving the "sell this diet" at the door is wise. I am a fan of real food, and if that means butter and milk, then that means butter (in moderation) and milk (as part of a balanced diet).

As for gluten, I would really like to spend some time talking to someone from Europe about this. Have you ever had bread or rolls from Italy or France? Game changer. I'm pretty sure they use gluten.

Also, I've had to spend some time in prayer about all of this, as I know many people struggle and all of this stuff (self-control, namely) is really, really tough.

Jenny said...

I really have to bite my tongue out here in CO where there seems to be a contest among all the parents to be as organic as possible. Many people I know avoid food groups, etc., too. I really don't mind that people eat the way they want and buy what they want, but when they start telling me that even though I plan healthy menus with lots of varieties of foods made at home mostly from scratch, that I'm not doing enough, I just get discouraged. "You shouldn't eat that" "Is that organic?" are statements I've heard over and over. I don't go around preaching my habits, but with women, it's hard to avoid talking about food. I'll ask how they made something (if it's unfamiliar) just out of curiosity and because I love to cook, and it always starts out "Everything is organic...." The worst are the anti-sugar people. I really have to bite my tongue and just smile and nod. These women are my friends and I would never say or do anything to hurt them or make them think they hurt me.

It really seems that food/diet has achieved cult-like, idol-like status. My mother assures me things weren't like this in the past. Sure, there were always women taking pride in something they could make exceptionally well, but there was rarely the "I'm better than you because I do such and such and you should be ashamed that you feed your family that" mentality.

Seriously, should I just run our family into debt buying all organic all the time, and leaving out cheaper foods (like beans!) just because they don't fit into a diet?

We've had some serious issues in our family with allergies and GERD (which, thank God, were outgrown), so I know what it is like to have to think and plan carefully regarding food and avoid certain foods; but seriously, things just seem to be out of control. At least around here. When I go home to the rural south, people are just so much more laid back about it all.

If I were take some of my friends to KY, they would probably pass out the sight of a tub of Country Crock margarine on table! We eat butter at our house, but when we do go home, I'm more than happy to spread some of that on my bread; and I won't tell them they shouldn't be eating that fake stuff!!

Tacy said...

I remember when a family I was babysitting for (in MD, you're right- it doesn't seem to be as big of a thing in the South, but it is still a thing, for sure) "went organic." I felt guilty taking a snack while I was working there. The Mom gave me a talk about how she was "going for it" after a conversation with a friend, and she "hereby vowed" to only buy organic from thenceforth unto forever. I remember feeling proud of her and also kinda sorry for her, too. I think because it can be so "fun" to get on the bandwagon of a diet or way of buying, but when the excitement of a "new thing" wears off, we might realize that it was an idol. I'm not poo-pooing the organic movement (at all!), but I can see how it would become an idol. Yay! We're on a new diet! This is going to be life-changing! (Forget about self-control, praying about 'what you shall' eat, and all the rest.

Tacy said...
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