Last week I joined a discussion group, Menu for the Future, offered by the Northwest Earth Institute. Session one featured a series of short articles including topics on organic, local and everything else, navigating the catch of the day, the anxiety of eating, Sunday dinner, and the pleasures of eating.
The article Organic, Local and Everything Else: Finding Your Way Through the Modern Food Fray by Zoe Bradbury struck a cord with me. Throughout the article, the author talks about the paralyzing choices a conscious shopper is faced with at the supermarket. Organic or local? Free range or humanely raised? Grass fed? Family farmed? How was this grown? How efficiently was it transported? Did the farmer receive a fair wage? Can I afford it? Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by the implications of your choices and leave defeated without buying anything? A simple trip to the market to buy a carton of eggs can turn into a test of will and strain on your personal belief system.
More and more I find myself dreading the chore of going to the grocery store. Half the stuff stocked on the shelves I would not consider "food" anyway, so what is the point of going there? I feel like I am on some game show where I must navigate an obstacle course while seeking out the correct items to put in my cart.
Game show Host: "Oh so close! You chose organic cage-free when the correct item would have been the local dozen from farmer Bob who free-ranges his hens outside and supplements their diets strictly vegetarian. Wah, wah, wah... While you did not win the grand-prize, we would not send you home empty handed. Tell her what she has won Bob!"
Bob: "That's right Rebecca, you get to go home with lingering questions of what "organic" means, doubt that you can trust labels, haunting images of "cage-free" chickens housed by the thousands inside huge pole-buildings with no sunlight or grass, guilt you are denying your family their favorite conventional foods, and an empty wallet!" The audience applauds.
Me: "Great. Thanks."
Why does eating have to be so hard? Open mouth, insert food. See? That was easy. Oh, how I wish it were that easy. I am not sure what the menu for my future holds. With a husband spending five months abroad and the chitlins hanging with their mother on the factory farm all summer, meals at home will be drastically different. Hopefully, cooking for one, I will not fall prey to the convenience of prepackaged individual meals or cereal for dinner. At least it will mean fewer trips to the
torture grocery store.