Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu for the Future

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

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.


Heather @ SGF said...

I'm currently hosting the NWEI's Voluntary Simplicity Class. I noticed the "Menu for the Future" class and am hoping to host that one next. I'm looking forward to hearing how you like it!

Green Bean said...

I have to admit that I hate going to the "regular" grocery store. I don't mind Whole Foods because at least there is a selection and, most importantly, they stock pastured eggs from a responsible local farm and organic milk from happy cows raised on a local, environmentally responsible dairy farm. Good luck this summer. I'm not sure how I'd eat if I were just cooking for one. Some temptation there.

Heather @ SGF said...

Actually, cooking for one is the BEST! You only make what you want. My hubby and I don't eat the same things so I've been cooking for one for many years. I eat lots of veggie stir fries, soups, potatoes, salads... Mmm!

I'm not much for leftovers either, but everything I make is so easy that it's not a big deal to make it each day.

JessTrev said...

That is hilarious. Don't forget the deep moral waters you tread as you try to figure out which fish are ethically sourced this week. Or how to weigh off the packaging against the contents!

skymring said...

lol, i know what you mean, i've spent more than 10 minutes trying to decide which tomatoes to buy!

scifichick said...

I don't like going to regular grocery stores either... Most of it is not even food, and the actual food is kind of sad looking. I like going to a local certified organic farm, but even there I have some choices. Do I get apples that are not in season now, or have no fruit whatsoever? At least eggs are easy - they have their own chickens that roam about the farm :)

kathy said...

The garden and the back yard is the only way to eat easy. Every time I go to the market I come home with something I am ashamed of. I believe that life is joyous and blessings are abundant. I don't want to waste energy on guilt but what else should I feel when that out-of-season cantelope jumps in my cart. The smell was heavenly and it tasted much better than it had any right to. When I cave I wat to just enjoy the guilty pleasure.

kale for sale said...

This is a great post. I've been through this grocery store maze, got myself out of it by going to the farmers' market and can now successfully work myself into a near sweat when deciding which grower to buy organic strawberries from. The one whose workers are in a union or from the man with the beautiful jade ring? The metaphor of the game show is so right on. Sometimes I simply stop in the middle of looking for the right answer and laugh. Which is what I did reading this. Thank you.


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