Having grown up in a family for whom food was not just something, but the thing, its not surprising that, as an adult, I’ve evolved into someone known as a “Foodie.”
I think it started with the sugar substitute “Aspartame.” I’d heard all the rants about the potential dangers of the stuff. But the FDA had declared it safe and, like all government agencies, they have our best interests at heart, right?
I loved Diet Coke and loved even more the fact that I could go to Circle K on a daily basis for a Big Gulp without ever having to worry about one single stinking calorie. What a deal! Until one day at work when we were descending through eighteen thousand feet and my left ear refused to clear.
Five years and tens of thousands of dollars of medical tests later it took a Chinese Acupuncturist to solve the mystery—I was being poisoned.
Since at that time I was worth more to my loving hubby alive than dead, I quickly dropped him as a suspect, and turned to my diet to ferret out the source of ill effects. It didn’t take long to figure out the culprit. My Diet Coke habit had rendered me half-deaf and ultimately ended my career as an airline pilot.
Nothing like being lied to by a government agency, and having life-altering consequences to put you on the war path. My problem wasn’t just that I’d given up the evil Aspartame, and wanted everybody in the world to know the truth—I took it as a personal insult each time I saw someone imbibing the stuff. Even though I’d gulped it for years, oblivious to the wreckage it wreaks on everything from your brain to your reproductive system, I realized that once you know something you can never not-know it again. But that doesn’t mean everyone else knows it.
From Aspartame I moved on to the evils of trans-fats, high fructose corn syrup, explored the heartbreak of gluten and dairy intolerance and have landed firmly in “Non-GMO Land.”
Now a good fifteen years down the road, we are selling our family home of thirty-two years and moving to the far side of the country in search of clean water, and clean land on which to grow clean food.
I devour (no pun intended) anything related to food and health and after reading about all the delightful benefits of raw milk, was appalled to discover the sale of it is outlawed in our county. There is a hardy group in Albuquerque who pool resources and make a driving foray to Durango, Colorado every week for the pleasure of spending twelve dollars a gallon for raw milk. If you add the price of the round trip, it’s probably more like twenty.
Yet these people are desperate for real food and willing to do almost anything to get it.
The other day my niece gave me some eggs from her chickens. When I cracked one into a frying pan, I didn’t even recognize it as what I have come to know as an egg. The yolk was bright yellow and standing proudly at attention; the white was clear and firm. And the taste was divine. I’m sure there were also unseen health benefits from a food derived from birds allowed to express their birdness and who are given clean and species-appropriate food.
Watching documentaries like Food, Inc., would make even the strongest among us gag with disgust seeing the way chickens, eggs and beef are produced on a “production” scale. Heck, even the farmers are appalled. It would all make you want to be a vegetarian, until they go onto the second half of the program, where you are briefed on the development of “FrankenFoods” whose birthplace is the lab, and final resting place our plate at the dinner table. Cross-species breeding of plants and things like viruses and bacteria to make the plant able to withstand being hosed down by herbicides.
Even if you ignore the fact that our depleted soils have a small fraction of the minerals our ancestors enjoyed in the last century, this new “version” of “food” is, by processing, literally void of nutrients. Tomatoes are now bred not for nutritional value or even taste, but for their ability to survive a fifteen-hundred mile ride across the country in the back of the truck and still look like a tomato after sitting on the shelf at the local grocery store for a week.
How is it that our generation of Americans has more food than any society in the history of the planet, yet is plagued by not only the rising incidence of chronic illness to epidemic proportions, but the introduction of scary new diseases.
Trillions of dollars are plowed into medical research annually, and new drugs come on the market almost daily, but for most, the side effects are worse than the cure.
Lisa pointed out recently that my husband’s parents have been closet Foodies for years. While I was still chugging my Diet Cokes, they were quietly buying organic food, avoiding wheat and soy, and mostly eating simple meals at home. They’re both in their eighties now, and enjoy an incredible level of health. They’re slim, energetic, and as far as I can tell don’t have a single ache or pain. My father-in-law walks his three miles every day, rain or shine, and will probably outlast us all.
That’s where I want to be at eighty. If getting up every morning at 5:00 am to milk the cow doesn’t kill me, I hope to coast into my eighties drinking my raw milk, watching my happy chickens scratching around the yard and eating my home-grown veggies. At least I’ll know where they came from!