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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Habits,Novelties, and the history of Food Consumption


Growing cherry tomatoes in insulated blankets on the Oregon Coast, Summer 2014.

Throughout our evolution we kept trying to find  new things to eat, in part because we were always hungry, and in part because as our brain grew larger we needed more fuel. I can personally vouch for the need to fuel the brain because after a meeting, even today in my retirement years, just listening to a bunch of facts and figures, not even trying to be attentive and active participant, I'm beat and famished and can't say no to anything put in front of me.

Someone must be using that little fact to present us with food at such meetings that we might reject at other times, sweets, sugary drinks, indulgences of all sorts.

As in potato chips and ice-cream, both invented for fried brains. No wonder that in prime time the advertising on television is mostly about food products none of us really need, but want after a little teasing jingle has wet our appetite.

How could it be that an evolved civilization could be so insensitive and yes, stupid even, as to stuff itself with non-food and feel good about it?

During my working years, the last thing I wanted to think about was preparing a meal from scratch, as in home-made soup or stews at the end of the day after a long day and a long commute, to a waiting family that might need not just food, but supplies to rush and pick up at the store for tomorrow's presentation in one of the classes the children attended, or an activity like soccer or ballet, or...

 Well, someone came up with canned and frozen products that almost made the working mom feel good; why the advertising said, "Uhh, uhh, Good!!!" What we never knew was that food chemists were working double time to come up with "invented" taste, adding extra vitamins on the label to reassure the housewife that the product they took home to feed their family was as good as home-made.

Now that I have the time to truly read the labels, to truly shop carefully for food, I'd rather go back a thousand years in history, (in my own family, we go back just one generation), and grow my own food, then freeze the excess for those winter days when a bag of frozen peas can be added to that risotto and make spring reappear on the dinner table. Nothing beats the taste of that tiny tomato you grow, sweating over it as if it were your own baby growing under that insulating blanket. And months later, roasted, herbed and frozen tomatoes will have nothing of the "tin" taste of canned tomatoes.

Isn't it ironic?