Bears repeating

Peanut went to a birthday party this weekend while I stayed at home and cooked through Butter’s nap. Increasingly, I don’t have time to prep and cook meals so I do it all on the weekend to eat throughout the week.

Though I do this to save time and money, I also do it because I don’t trust most of the prepared foods at the store and in restaurants. Since the 1990s I’ve tried to be more and more aware of how food is made (and of which ingredients). I don’t like chemical tasting food and I tend to buy and prepare foods in their natural states. We try to eat whole, natural, organic foods grown by local, sustainable farms and businesses.

And since I had kids I’ve gotten much more annoying about how careful I am.

So I cook as much as I can. Local, fresh, organic, whole. And I fake it when I need to (we have almond butter sandwiches for dinner at least once a week, not because I’m an About Last Night fan but because we run out of leftovers and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna take my hour of free time during Butter’s nap every day to cook something that might or might not be eaten later.)

On the weekend I try to blend homemade sauces like tahini and hummus, slow cook some vegetarian chili, make lentils and couscous with veggies, pre-layer black bean quesadillas, overcook and mash white bean and sweet potatoes for homemade burgers, prep berry almond smoothies, slice goat cheese and polenta to grill later with marinara, and bake a homemade pizza. The boys will generally eat these things, I have two hands to prepare on the weekend, these dishes don’t take careful spicing or attentive cooking, and most of the items last well through the week. So I sacrifice an afternoon or two to the home cooking gods.

[A friend once joked that a real Top Chef quick fire challenge would be to create something edible in 45 minutes…when you have to leave the prep area every 5 minutes to break up a fight, and leave the cooking area every 3 minutes to remind people about the rules, and leave the food unattended for at least 10 minutes while you run after someone making very poor choices. I would watch that episode a dozen times, were they ever to get that real with their reality programming.]

But making good food for four people is increasingly wearing on me. I’m tired of the work, I’m tired of checking labels, I’m tired of the exorbitant cost, and I’m tired of being such an annoying stickler.

Plus, it’s a pain that my day generally falls into the pattern:
wake to crying…clean a bottom…prepare food…serve food…attend to crying…
clean a bottom…shuffle people into car…serve food…shuffle people into car…
clean up food…prepare food…serve food…attend to crying…clean a bottom…
clean up after food…serve food….clean up after food…attend to crying…
shuffle people into car…prepare food…serve food…clean a bottom…clean up after food…prepare food…fall asleep

I’m getting tired of cooking my own beans to avoid BPA and making my own marinara to avoid BPA and putting everything in washable bags to avoid phthalates and refusing to do disposable to avoid adding to the landfill and buying local and organic at three times the price to avoid pesticides and herbicides and petroleum and child labor.

Then Eric Schlosser goes and writes something new that reminds me why we do this. Pseudofood is killing the planet, killing people, and killing farmers. I want to rip out the backyard, plant a bigger edible garden, write letters to local and national government, run for political office, take on the restaurant and agriculture lobbies, and rebuild the FDA and USDA to serve consumers.

Because what we’re eating now is not food. And the more people who know that, the better the food we get will become. And the less often I will have my kid come home from a birthday party full of modern marvels labeled as food.

[Of this I’m enormously jealous, by the way. I want to go back to a time when a blue tongue was fun rather than a source of stress, and when sugar was fun not toxic. But that ship has sailed.]

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16 thoughts on “Bears repeating

  1. Oh sista. From your writing to Maud’s eyeballs.

    I figured out why I got a migraine the other day. Tocopherol. IN MY SHAMPOO. I forgot to read the labels. I get migraines from chemicals that go directly into my skin. I can’t use sunscreens or fancy soaps or cleaning chemicals. I have to watch hair crap (hence why I don’t do it anymore), toothpastes, even things like tissues that have lotion in them and nail polish (I like my toes in pretty colors). I am seriously fucked if this additive shit continues. The newest craze of ‘sea salt’ is another migraine trigger. Now my organic food has fucken sea salt added! AHHHHHHH. You would think that to save money, additives would be eliminated and stores would do a better job moving the products on/off the shelves with better prices. But no, there has to be 10 gallons of preservative in a 1 oz can of some shit to hold its “freshness” in a nuclear blast.

    I make my own tomato sauce, chicken broth, pizza bread, pie dough…. christ it is so time consuming. I’m always experimenting with different mixes of rice flour. If I had more time and patience, I would be canning jams and making ice cream too. I am not kidding when I say that I dream of my own garden. DREAM. At least once a week, it’s my happy dream.

    A friend asked if I made sugar cookies with sprinkles (uh, apparently my cookies were booooring). HELL NO. Sugar cookies from rice flour, yes. But sprinkles are devil’s food coloring. I used to eat sprinkles from the container with a spoon when I was a kid. I used to use my own money to buy CARTONS of sprinkles from a chain ice cream shop. Every time I went to the grocery store, I treated myself to a sprinkled donut becuz they gave me a happeh. Now, those same donuts would hospitalize me from the peanut contamination and the Red 40 sprinkles! I used to be able to eat Snickers and Nutrageous, but whatever GM-peanuts sprung up in the 90s, they are responsible for the food allergies I have now that I never had as a kid. In college, I was tested for Celiac and a host of other intestinal diseases, but everytime, I was a mystery. Only now do I know I’m not a mystery. After years of keeping food diaries, MY FOOD IS THE FUCKING MYSTERY.

    My friends tease me that I eat rabbit food. But honestly, I can’t! Celery is a massive hoarder of fertilizers and pesticides – some of my worst migraines were from one 6 inch piece of celery. Non-organic tomatoes, peas, berries, peaches, you name it, and I am toast. A few berries. A half of a small tomato. The amounts differ, but within one hour, my nose starts running and I know a full-blown reaction is starting. Anything in a can, screwed, within minutes, and down for days. Most frozen crap has preservatives like tocopherol or MSG.

    The only hope I have is that things like preservatives and food additives have negative interactive effects with oh, say, Viagra. Migraines aren’t the only side effect from food contamination, and I hope some of these “freshness” chemicals mix up some cool new wild side effects with sexual enhancers, hair growth crap, fancy dryer sheets, $$$ cologne. Maybe then, once all the rich dudes controlling the shit on the shelves personally realize the effects of chemical contamination, then we’ll get back to real food.

  2. I feel your pain. We don’t go to nearly the extremes you do – mostly because it’s so damned expensive! But, I’m a major label reader and it sickens me what they do to the stuff they call food. We thrive on all natural around here as much as humanly possible. Good for you for sticking to your guns, tiring as it is. P & B will be all the healthier for it.

  3. Oh, jc, that’s just heartbreaking. We use Pharmaca unscented shampoos and conditioners, California Baby sensitive leave-on conditioner for the curls shown at the top of the blog header, Dr. Bronner’s unscented soap for everything on our bodies, Seventh Generation unscented for the laundry and sink. And I’ll bet that at least some of that would be toxic to you. Grrrrr. I won’t buy organic products from major corporations because I don’t believe them. Organic major brand pasta sauce? Don’t believe you. Organic major brand cereal? Don’t believe you.

    I have a scientist friend who thinks that the peanut allergies are because peanuts aren’t what they used to be. That the slow mutations, potentially from genetic modification but more likely from evolution in response to pesticides and herbicides, have turned those cacahuetes into something genetically distinct from what they used to be.

    Good thing we’re not allergic to my Peanut, though I’d gladly change his blog name if he gives you the psychosomatic heebiejeebies.

    Karyn, we left our last place, where we planted pear and apple and peach and plum for a place that has plum and lemon. Not enough in my book, but we’re happy rolling in homegrown natural produce. And the landlord has used a gardener for more than 10 years who doesn’t believe in *any* synthetic pesticide, fertilizer, or herbicide. Gardeners who pull weeds or leave ’em, but don’t spray. Yay. I planted, in our limited raised beds, summer squash, tomatoes, basil, kale, fava beans, carrots, and fennel. Stuff that produces a lot. It feels so good when those sprouts rear their heads. Hope you have some soon.

    Heather, we only do what we can. We eased a bit for Peanut now that he’s bigger, but you won’t catch me touching any berries, tomatoes, peppers, celery, cucumber, apple, or peach that’s not organic. No dairy that’s not organic. But I’ll buy pineapple and kiwi and mangoes that are not organic if I trust their country of origin.

    But I’ll admit to having a horrible vice, that the boys don’t get but I do, that has every single bit of badness and awfulness and poison and global destruction and corporate nastiness in it. Because I need a vice and life is too short and I’m a weak human.

  4. Yeah, I grabbed shampoo I used to use that never had tocopherol in it before. I was stunned to see it in the label this morning in the shower. I usually use whatever I can get at the organic store, but being in the middle of nowhere, I don’t have time to make trips there when I run out of one thing. I don’t remember the no-crap brand I used to use. I know the bottle when I see it.

    Did you get your package from me?

  5. thanks for explaining my life. you’re not alone. do i write that every time? are you one of my 7 “twin” people in the world my sicilian great grandma told me existed? no wonder we’re tired.

  6. oh hey ps, do you make kale chips? my kids (3 &5) think they’re real chips and devour them and you can make big batch and they just taste better next day if you just leave them in the bowl on the table, not even covering them. take kale tear it up, lay it on baking pan, spray with olive oil with like a misto, sprinkle with salt if you like or spicy stuff for you, bake for 8-12 min on 350. look for crisp edges tiny bit brown should feel like a chip not wilty. i actually like them better then potato chips now.

  7. Tara! You crusading savior, you! My kale chips never had oil (how dumb am I? quite.) and I burn them every stinking time. I had given up. I will now spray and crisp and rejoice. Thank you! (Hey, which variety is best? I prefer the curly and red winter but everyone else says dinosaur. Your opinion?)

  8. Nap, why are you doing this to me? You are a much better woman than I am. Your meals sound awesome. I do what I can, but you are light years ahead of me.

  9. Fae, you’ve always had one more kid than I have. That gives me at least two more hours in a day. So if your kids are eating more than dust bunnies and mudpies, you’re doing just fine.

  10. Trying to get there…but I agree. The stuff that we are ingesting is killing us and the planet. My goal this year is to get my vegetable garden back up…fresh veggies are SO expensive…

  11. hey 10 days later, sorry, i must have been blind when i tried to check the box that said, sure email me…while i was sucked into a black hole created by a 5 and 3 in 2days old…. i like curly kale, tried dino and my kids said no way, and i had to concur and just haven’t tried red yet, which is just lame. really they are divine with the oil, right?! i’m rejoicing for you and your babysitter debut. 2 hours will save your sanity. or at least put off the inevitable psychotic break.

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