I have always been a little more adventurous with food than most. I keep the lactose to a minimum, have eaten gluten free and red meat free for a few years, experimented with the raw food concept and done a whole lot of juicing. I can also add many detox adventures to my quest to eat healthy at any cost.
Having personally experienced many different dietary concepts, I am ever curious about food. In fact when I travel one of my favourite things to do is go to grocery stores to see what interesting foods are available in different places. Many factors contribute to the selection at the grocery store, geographic location, weather, cultural norms, and dietary customs. Not to mention crazy food trends.
Since living in Italy, food products available in my city are disappointing. I will never understand why we think we need the mass quantities…of everything! This is when I reach my soapbox moment and miss the simple life in Italy. Seeing people shop daily for food and having only a small apartment and small refrigerator to store food. Now I read food labels with new perspective. A bag of flour here in Canada has so many ingredients on the label I swear my Italian is better than trying to pronounce all those long names of preservatives! UGH! This drives me crazy! We are our own worst enemy here in North America with our love of mass quantities and the I’m so busy badge of honour.
This spring I enjoyed a lovely vacation in California visiting friends I met while on a cooking vacation in Italy. One morning as we are driving to pick strawberries and talking about my time in Italy and food, I get on my soapbox with my usual rant about food and preservatives! This can be quite an amusing conversation at times. Phil says we are taking a detour to the bookstore, he knows of a book about food I am sure to enjoy. The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan enters my life.
Simply put, the book explores the food chain to learn where our food comes from, both the commercially produced side and the old fashioned way. The commercial side are the things nobody really wants know about the food we eat. The old fashioned way was a walk down memory lane for me, cows grazing on the pasture, chickens wandering around and the farm dog overseeing it all.
As a kid I spent the summer months on the farm with my aunt experiencing the simple life first hand. I was a messy haired little tomboy who made sure to leave instructions not to go to the chicken coop without me in the morning! I did not want to miss out on the fun! The author’s description of the eggmobile is much like the fun I had as a kid. Every morning my aunt and I would let the chickens out and use sticks to turn over the cow patties and watch and listen to the chickens going crazy with delight indulging on all the fat worms wriggling under the cow patties! To a five year old kid who loved bugs this was awesome! Not sure who enjoyed the excitement more, the chickens or me?
Life was simple. Making food from scratch was how we were raised. Funny fact about me, my first dining experience was when I was thirteen years old, dining is an exaggeration since it was only a pizza restaurant. That year I also learned what a grilled cheese sandwich was, from the kids I babysat. This may explain a few things about my views on food.
The chapter about hunting made me smile. My dad always seemed to be hunting or fishing depending on the season. Fall hunting was my favourite, sure there was the occasional carcass of some animal hanging in the garage, but it was more about the food dad created. Wild meat was a part of life for us, deer sausage that my dad made was the best! I can still see the silver grey meat grinder secured to the white table and smell the spices and fresh meat being ground together to make the sausage. Next would come the smoke house which dad would set up on the driveway. Walking home from school in the fall, the smell of the smoke and fat drippings from homemade deer sausage being cooked filled the air! This was special, dad’s homemade deer sausage was one of our family favourites. Add mom’s homemade perogies, freshly baked buns and poppy seed chiffon cake and we were all happy! Makes me hungry just thinking about it!!
I often say grocery stores would go out of business if more people ate the way I do. I look into people’s carts in line at the cashier and inwardly shake my head at all the packaged foods they buy. Doesn’t anybody take the time to cook anymore? I mean really cook not pour the contents of a box or a can into a pot and add water?!? So funny, the topic of food always brings out my soapbox rants.
I am grateful for an upbringing that has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life. I enjoy growing a garden, cooking food from scratch and taking time for the little things that make me smile.
Thanks to my friend Phil for introducing me to a book that I truly enjoyed reading. I appreciate the effort the author put into his research and how well he described his experiences. I smiled and laughed out loud many times as the five year old in me continues to walk around the farm seeing cows in the pasture on my way to feed the chickens. 🙂