Saturday, March 08, 2014


I bet you thought I was going to drone on about my boys.  Not today.  Well, maybe later this afternoon but not right this minute.  Nope. Today I am sharing a thought that has been rolling around in my brain, sort of quietly and in the background, but still there, just hanging out waiting for its turn. 

It started out years ago when words like natural and organic became trendy.  I sort of rolled my eyes and gave the retail food marketing industry a nod for playing into the hands of its demographic so beautifully.  Gullible Moms responsible for feeding their families felt they weren't doing a good job unless they bought natural and organic groceries.  Urban professionals felt uncool and unhealthy if their lattes weren't soy, if their yogurt wasn't Greek.   A string of vague and meaningless terms trickled along, coming in and out of vogue.  Each was under fire one minute and the ultimate law amen the next:  cage free, gluten free, sugar free, fat free, dairy free, free roaming, hormone free, pesticide free, pastured, grass fed, grain fed, hand fed, bottle fed, locally grown, locally raised and on and on ad nauseum.   Navigating the grocery store, the natural food market or the "nutrition" section at the bookstore became an activity requiring Superhero bullshit detection skills.   In case you didn't know, conspiracy theory is real, people.  We should be ashamed we even dubbed it a theory.  It should be called conspiracy law.  Word. But you didn't hear it from me.  I'd hate to think I had to live the rest of my life like the crazy character Mel Gibson played in the movie The Conspiracy Theory.   

Anyway.  During this time, a string of - oh, I don't know - seventy eleven or so sweeteners were introduced one by one as the newest, bestest sweetener since sliced sprouted grain bread.    One by one the current sweetheart sweetener was knocked off its number one high horse spot for one reason or six.  The term glycemic index became the king of everything.  Aaaaall the things.   Once again, kudos to the ad agencies. 

Did you see the movie The Devil Wears Prada? Meryl Streep gave Anne Hathaway this fabulous lesson, in which you could substitute food for fashion and still keep the point of this beautifully succinct informational tongue lashing perfectly accurate and intact:

[To Andrea] This... stuff? Oh... ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don't know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you're trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don't know is that that sweater is not just blue, it's not turquoise, it's not lapis, it's actually cerulean. You're also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St. Laurent, wasn't it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it's sort of comical to me how you think that you've made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you're wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

We think we're making choices to feed our families (insert newest most healthy sounding, trendy term here)  but really, in fact, we're feeding our families food that was selected for us by the people in some office.  Once again, kudos to the ad agencies, the salespeople, the authors of "nutriton" books, the people and practices and offices and corporations with something to SELL.  

This concludes the conspiracy theory law portion of my post.  Amen.

Cuz nowwww, this is just becoming humorous.  For the past few years I've been patiently listening and reading about the "new" trend of (whatever.  see above diatribe.)  homesteading, eating fresh and organic, buying local, blah blah blaaaaaaaachkphthhh.    Listen up,  young bucks and does.  This is the way my Grandparents lived.  It's the way they taught my parents to live, and the way they taught me to live.  They didn't call it homesteading.  They didn't call it buying local or growing food not a yard or living green. They didn't call it a nutrition plan.  They called it living.  Life. Being. Providing.  Using their resources and working hard. They taught my parents,  my parents taught me.  We've had gardens and preserved fresh foods since before this new generation (who apparently invented it aaaallll) was born.  My husband's Grandaddy hauled truckloads of whatever crops were ripe - corn, watermelon, squash - down the mountain to the Piggly Wiggly and sold it to them.  My husband remembers loading watermelons by the hundreds.  On to the truck.  Off of the truck.  
I remember vividly helping my Mama and my Grandmother can tomatoes and green beans,  make pickles and chow chow, and Heaven knows I had a stiff, purple thumb from hulling peas more times than I can remember.  
I remember watching my Grandaddy work in his garden in the middle of August wearing work pants, a long sleeved shirt and a straw hat (yet another thing they knew decades ago - sunburn = bad, sun protection = good. And yet we're still reading articles about it as if it were brand new news.)  Sweat was dripping off his nose and he drank water from a quart Mason jar.  Funny what you remember.  Anyway this was a man who had begun his professional career as a teacher, then became a Principal, then a Superintendant, then when he retired from education he ran for a seat in the Georgia State Senate.  And won it.  Several times.  Still, every Spring when the threat of frost was behind us, he was in the garden.  It was so ingrained in him to have his feet in the tilled dirt and plant and tend his garden that he did it every year up til the year he died.  It was thusly instilled in my Grandmother that she was to use e-v-e-r-y  s-i-n-g-l-e  luscious vegetable that came out of that garden in some way.  If the bounty was too much to eat, she preserved it.  She shared it with friends.  They instilled this in my parents, and to this day, I feel the urge to till dirt and plant seeds and seedlings in the Spring and rotate crops in and out of the dirt until winter comes. 

It makes me chuckle at the perceived reality of current holistic and nutritional self proclaimed experts and health fanatics.  You know the kind.  The drink the Kool-aid kind. The kind who believe theirs is the only right. The ones who pay someone to come and plow their ground for them,  buy their compost and hire someone to spread it,  buy expensive organic products to use in the garden- no wait for the person they hire to use in the garden, buy beautiful woven baskets in which to gather their bounty.  Then when the veggies are ready, they proclaim, "Look at what I grew!!"  Reminds me of the story of The Little Red Hen.  That's an oldie too.

So the moral of the story is, don't drink somebody else's Kool-aid.  Make your own.  Live your own belief and let others live theirs, live next door to them, appreciate their world but make your own.  Recognize anything on this planet as redesigned, rebranded, retouched or recycled.  Hopefully future generations will do the same for us.