Okay, so the week didn't go half badly. The big news is that I managed to eat at a table four times this week. While that may not seem like much, it's better then fifty percent compliance. I'll take that. For me the name of the game is building up to something that can be done consistently.
I've watched a lot of people over the years force habits that they don't really connect with. Usually they can maintain them for the duration of their schedule. Time frame passes and compliance goes poof. If you don't have big time buy in for your habit, it is so not going to stick.
As I've looked at things a bit deeper, I think one of my struggles with shifting into Food Rules is the table thing. Strange as it sounds, that is a really seriously big issue for me. In middle and high school, kids would leave the table if I sat down to eat there. Over time I just stopped sitting with people at a table to eat. There are few places in the world more lonely then an empty table. It took me years in college to get to the point where I could sit at the table in TDR (Terrace Dining Room) and not bolt the second I finished eating. When I go out to eat with folks I have to fight not to bolt food down rapidly. I get eye rolls and mini lectures regularly.
What can I say, it's a thing.
This week's deep think is Food Rule #2- don't eat anything your great grandmother would not recognize as food. Ironically enough I have a picture of one of the respective great grands. I present to the wilds of the interwebz Grandma Kate and her second husband Great Grampa John.
American Gothic eat your heart out. Circa 1930s middle America.
The 1930s was the heart of the Great Depression in America. Most Americans know the Great Depression vaguely as a time of economic privation. What is often missed is that the Great Depression coincided with one of the worst droughts in American history. Through a combination of environmental factors including a shifting jet stream and poor crop managment techniques, the topsoil of the American Midwest literally blew away. Farmers couldn't grow crops, farms went under, and people starved.
That's a sobering realization as I sit in my tidy apartment, with a refrigerator full of quality foods. Eat foods my great grandmother would recognize…well on one hand that's easy. Is she going to recognize a packaged energy gel? No, not so much. But let me parse that a bit deeper. Is she going to recognize a can of Spam? Spam made it's grand entry into the American culinary lexicon in 1937 along with the ever popular Kraft Cheese and Macaroni dinner, Kix breakfast cereal, and Rolos caramel candies.
Would this have been a staple food or a novelty food?
Depending on where in America you were, it's quite possible that you were getting some "imitation" food products. In the case of Great Gramma Kate, she was up north in a part of the country which still had viable farming. So for Gramma Kate, Spam would not have been on the menu.
For the Dust Bowl dwelling migrant farmers, canned or tinned meat might have been on the menu. So it quickly becomes apparent that there's multiple levels to the concept of eat foods your great grandparents would recognize. Neon blue yogurt is out, but various forms of canned, boxed, and processed foods hover in a gray area.
What does that mean? It means that like it or not, processed and industrialized foods go back a good long way in the American experience. If you lived in big cities, the odds were good that the meat you got from a local butcher didn't come from a local cow. It came from a Kansas cow, slaughtered in Chicago, and transported by rail to the city.
That's not local. By any stretch of the imagination. So what's the goal here? Is it eating locally, or is it forcing us to learn how to eat? By that I mean learning what quality food ingredients really are, and understanding the rituals around food?