Friday, February 26, 2010

Gratitude part deux

I think it's probably just the time of year but I've noticed a few blog posts from people who really want to take control of their body weight. It's keep them from feeling good about themselves, or it's keeping them from being as physically active at a level that had hoped to achieve, and finally, because their body weight is going to shorten their life expectancy.

That got me thinking about the loss of any sense of sacredness in food. Nothing is sacred about deep frozen cheese stuffed pizza crusts that need a ridiculous amount of sugars and salt to make them palatable to us after sitting in boxes for so long. But fresh pizza dough, the yeast living inside, adding flavour to the wheat, the physical act of stretching the dough to develop the gluten and add texture to the whole... and then baked fresh with vegetables you cut yourself and cheese (oh the glories of cheese)...That is sacred, that is living food giving its life to you.

What would happen if, instead of counting calories and watching portions we just stopped to ponder whether that which we were about to put into our bodies was indeed, sacred. What would happen if we paused and asked ourselves if we could be truly grateful for those calories.

The cheese I drooled over above is a perfect example. Last year, in the midst of the economic system seemingly falling down around me, I got into a project trying to get Alex and I more self sufficient in terms of what we ate. It was aided by the books on food politics that I was reading, Michael Pollan, The End of Food, Mark Bittman, etc. Having read Barbara Kingsolver's book about her family eating local food for a year I decided I could move us more towards that in our own lives. Enter the the cheese making kit. Enter much frustration and very little actual cheese. But, the cheese I produced was sacred. I made it. I was grateful for it. There was no way I was going be glutinous with that cheese. Cheese stuffed pizza crusts - gluttony pure and simple and there is no way that any sacred cheese, your own homemade or a small dairy's handmade product, would ever end up stuffed in such an almost undignified manner.

You see what I mean?

Diet coke is for me another example of a food that is not sacred. Now, I used to drink a lot of diet coke. I lived on it when I was a waitress, when I studied and wrote papers, and when I, in my early thirties, was on Weight Watchers. It was perfect, zero calories, zero points, fizzy sweetness. The fact that it tasted like battery acid was not apparent as yet. So, what made me quit the habit. Plain and simple I just began to be aware how obscene it was to have to continue to consume food long past the point when my body needed those calories - to have a product that was created solely for the purpose of consumption that was not required. No benefit whatsoever. Children are starving in the world and I was so overfed I had to have a calorie free beverage to "treat" myself. I'm pretty sure not starving would be a great treat for those children.

Stopped it cold.

You see what I mean?

In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan talks about visiting corn silos where the corn was spilling out onto the road only to be crushed under the tires of trucks. He contrasted that with the pre-Columbian Meso-Americans for whom corn was sacred. It was life itself and gave life itself to those people. Now, we take it, industrialize it and make corn syrup for frozen, cheese stuffed pizzas that we eat without really tasting and without really requiring.

You see what I mean

1 comment:

  1. I totally see what you mean. I can intellectually wrap my head around it, but still feel drawn to the flavors of these horrible foods that are slowly killing us. It's a very tough habit for many of us to break...but I know it can be done. Thanks for the great post on the incongruity of it all.