Monday, June 14, 2010

Escapades v. 2.0

I watched Super Size Me. I read Fast Food Nation. I was indignant about what I was seeing and hearing, but my indignance slowly waned. I went back to my fast food diet, and, as I’d been warned, I gained weight. I can honestly say that I was living on a fairly steady diet of fast food. Fast food is so much easier than going shopping, picking things out, preparing them, and finally cooking them. Fast food is one stop. You order it, they give it to you, you eat it. It is fast.

I’ve had The Omnivore’s Dilemma sitting on my bookshelf for two years. The book came highly recommended by my friend Russ. He had stopped eating French fries after reading it. I had started reading it, but then walked away. In the course of those two years, every time I’d considered picking it up again, my mind had said, “I’m tired. I don’t want to have to think. Read something that is easy and requires no mental effort.” Whenever my mind puts up an argument like that, I tend to acquiesce. Last week, I decided that the time had finally come. I’d been spending a lot more time at the farmers’ markets, meeting wonderful people who were active proponents of fruits and vegetables and a healthier lifestyle. I wanted to know what my dilemma, as an omnivore, was. Now that I’ve read it, I don’t think I have much of a dilemma anymore.

I learned that one of the antibiotics given to cattle on industrial feedlots is erythromycin. I’m allergic to erythromycin. Is that why I got a stomachache every time I ate beef? Supermarket beef is out. Even if it doesn’t all contain erythromycin, there’s no label telling me which does and which doesn’t. I’ll have to avoid it all. I’m left with natural farm-raised beef. I know just where to find that.

As I’ve mentioned before, supermarket foods travel an average of 1,500 miles to get to me. That’s a long trip. I don’t want my food to be better travelled than I am. I guess that means that I’ll be eating local fruits and vegetables, which have come an average of less than 50 miles to get to my plate. If I don’t need to get meat, fruit, or vegetables at the supermarket, what does that leave? Soda.

But soda’s out, too. Whether you are for or against high fructose corn syrup, the simple fact is that soda provides empty calories. No nutritional value, outside of the sweetener. I’ll stick with water, tea, and juice, thank you. If I’m getting no nutrients, I don’t want the calories. Diet soda doesn’t have any calories, but much of it has caffeine. I’m pretty sensitive to caffeine. I can drink small amounts, but I’ve avoided energy drinks due to the high levels of caffeine. I’ve looked at the labels on diet, caffeine-free soda. Basically it’s brown carbonated water containing a lot of things I can’t pronounce. I could find that for free in some puddle in the street. I’ll pass.

On a recent visit to the supermarket, we mentioned to the cashier that we’d been to the farmers’ market. The cashier replied, “The farmers’ market is so expensive!” I’ve found some items to be more expensive, some less. In the case of those items that are more expensive, I’ll save up the money that I would normally spend on sodas. That should cover the difference. Another noticable difference may be in the overall value. I recently spent $15 for a roast from Scally’s Natural Beef. My mother bought a comparable roast from the supermarket for $10. The one I bought was so tender that I was able to eat it with a spoon. My mother complained that all the roasts she ever bought at the supermarket were tough, regardless of how long or low they’d cooked.

Hmmmm, it sounds like I’m on a new form of escapades. Instead of eating all of the processed foods from my pantry, I will try to stick to local and/or healthy foods. Fresh foods, like zucchini, tomatoes, and blueberries. Local, natural meat and poulty. No soda. I’ve been doing this for about a week, and I already feel a lot better. Hopefully, this version of the escapades, Escapades v. 2.0, will last longer than the previous version. Wish me luck!

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