There is something so satisfying about buttered toast. I think it’s the crunch accompanied by the flavour of the butter, plus the fact that bread is such a comfort food — so nourishing. Maybe I’m acting super hokey right now, but I’m really beginning to appreciate bread and butter like I never have before. In old movies and tv shows (Little House On The Prairie being an all time favourite of mine), I always saw people eating hunks of bread, or bread with cheese or butter, and thought that it must be such a boring meal. But now I’m really exploring the origins of food — where it comes from, how it is grown and made — and I’m gaining a new appreciation for the simple, but completely real, things that I had grown up taking for granted. Until recent years, I didn’t even really like bread that much at all. Bread was just something that held my sandwich together, and other than that I didn’t care for it. If I gain nothing more from this experience, I am certainly learning a lot about what it takes to nourish a human, physically and emotionally.
In Michael Pollan’s book In Defense Of Food, he writes about the American food culture that has been developing in our country since its beginning. Very early in our history we threw out the concept of eating for pleasure because, well, we Puritans wanted to do away with anything pleasurable. Other countries really value food for the very fact that it tastes good, and although it seems on the surface that we’re eating whatever tastes good to us, we’re actually still denying ourselves a lot of things. As years have passed, we’ve stopped seeing food as food, but rather as a collection of nutrients, vitamins, minerals, etc. Companies often infuse their stuff with other stuff to make it “better” (I’m sure you’ve seen orange juice with calcium). And we are attracted like moths to a flame because we’ve been taught that what we need are these elements of food and not the whole food itself.
Over the years we have tried our very best to perfect invented “food-like substances”; margerine is one of the examples that Pollan mentions quite often, as is baby formula. But we just can’t seem to get it right. Babies that are fed formula from birth rather than breast milk, no matter how many nutrients we put into the stuff, never do quite as well as those who are nourished with what nature intended. Sure, fat is not the best thing for us to eat, and there are so many different types of fat that it certainly does get intimidating (trans-fats, poly-unsaturated fat, etc…) so to cut it all out of our diets with “low-fat” or “fat-free” products seems to make sense, but the small amount of animal fat that goes into butter, for example, is something that human bodies have been eating for centuries. As long as it isn’t too much it’s really not as bad as some of the chemicals that we put into the fake stuff (margerine)!
So I must stick with whatever has the fewest ingredients, because these things are what will be best for me. And, if I can see it being grown from a seed to a fruit, if I know that it has not been doused in chemicals, then I know that it is the purest food the Earth can give me. And that, is what is nourishing.
With that said, let me tell you about my snacks for the day. I started off with the intention of munching some blueberries — an excellent choice that I did later get to enjoy. But as we purchased them from the woman at the market, she pointed to her display of cupcakes and begged us to take one. Before we could turn her down, she went on to describe each one, “This one is a blueberry cupcake with blueberry frosting, this one is vanilla bean…” and mentioned how she had made them all fresh to sell today. It was after noon, and the market was winding down. This is the perfect time of day to go if you want to get the price cuts and the free stuff. Farmers often can’t bring back what they have out because it isn’t as fresh as it was (it’s been sitting out for awhile in the sun) and they already have plenty of food back at the farm. So they will do what they can to get rid of it.
Ryan and I looked at each other and picked out one cupcake to share. We were reminded of the “free-gan” lifestyle that we were just introduced to last week at the wedding we attended. One person there claimed that he was a vegan, but wouldn’t turn down anything that was free seeing as that helps reduce waste, and it humbles him. He called this being “free-gan”, but when I googled the term I found out that it was actually a little different than what he described. The real free-gans, as far as I can tell, will eat anything they find that is free, be it leftovers that a friend can’t finish or take-out that has made it to the dumpster. Yes, they’ll dumpster dive for food. I do appreciate what they’re going for; a world with less waste. But I think the association with the term vegan is just to make the name catchy, not that they avoid eating animal products. Although, I could be wrong.
Well, we still want to pay for our food to support the local farmers who work so hard to grow it, so we had grilled cheese with onion rings for lunch and ployes pancakes for dinner. All ingredients grown in New England.