I’m going to make a blueberry peach pie sometime soon. It is going to happen. And when I do, it will have sugar in it. I will add sugar to the fruit, and the crust will be made of wheat flour and butter and salt and water. Go ahead. Tell me that I am poisoning myself and my family. Tell me how bad sugar is. Tell me how bad wheat is. Tell me about the perils of canola oil, animal fat, carbohydrates, and salt. Tell me that blueberries are a superfood but that I should eat them with coconut oil and almond meal and no sweetener. Or are the coconut oil and almond meal already on the bad list? I can’t keep track.
The “what should I eat” blog post has been done and much better than me. The answer, of course, to the age old question “what should I eat?” is kale. Locally grown, biodynamic, open pollinated, politically correct, solar greenhoused, hand harvested, from seeds you saved, kale. Siberian, red russian, tuscan, and curly. Raw in a salad. No, lightly steamed. No, just eat the sprouted kale seeds. Oops, just kidding, kale is bad too.
I drank the Kool-Aid on the whole locavore idea and I’m an unashamed Michael Pollan groupie. I eat stuff that I can spell, and I don’t worry much about it. I eat wheat, drink coffee and wine, eat whole milk dairy products, and occasionally even eat a fish that someone pulled out of my pond. If someone hunts on my land, I’ll probably eat some venison. I enjoy ice cream regularly, and bake brownies and then eat them. I am a nihilistic heathen. Incredibly lucky to live in a region where I am surrounded by farmers and have access to fantastic food, I respond to this good fortune by making it taste good by cooking it as well as I am able… using such deadly ingredients as oil, salt and sugar. And I know plenty of people who would argue me into the ground on why my diet is not healthy. I was recently told I needed a coffee enema. I really had to bite my tongue to hold back the inevitable comeback.
Let me gel it up for you in my own Yoga Pants Hiking Boots style: food fads abound and there is some truth in all of them. What does it mean to eat well? I’m pretty sure the answer involves mealtime joy and some absence of panicked neurosis around what we eat. The people I know who fuss endlessly about the relative merits of this food versus that food – or even better, the elimination of this food or that one – don’t seem all that happy to me. Call me crazy, but they seem a little uptight and stressed. No wheat, no sugar, no corn, no grains, no dairy, no carbs, no fat, no meat, Oh My FUCKING GOD just eat. Have a hotdog if you must, but shut up, eat it, and enjoy the goddamned thing.
Much more deadly than a little sugar or flour is the food fascist’s constant shoulding on the rest of us. We are all going to die. Whether or not we eat kale or Mickie Dees. The claims that some food dictators make about their required sacrifices sound like a fearful child trying to appease a vengeful god. Stop eating wheat and sugar and eat more meat and less carbs and more kale, and you will be granted freedom cancer or heart disease. Maybe. But maybe not too, because the part that got left out of this equation is that shit happens. Disease, aging, and death are going to happen to you. That isn’t being negative or cranky, that’s just part of being alive. Being alive is awesome when you are eating chocolate or watching sunsets and sucks ass when you are getting a mammogram or colonoscopy, and hearing that you have cancer. But can you have all of the former and none of the latter? Nope. If someone tells you that you can evade the downsides of being embodied by eating enough kale, run. Run as fast as you can to the local scoop shop and have an ice cream cone, stat. We all come with an expiration date, and paying good money for a rigid, fascist mealplan is a waste of time, energy, effort and happiness.
Does that mean I think we should all indulge in a mega case of the “fuck its” and munch Big Macs ‘til kingdom come? No, I think that we do have a responsibility to each other as members of the human race to behave “responsibly.” We have a responsibility to manage what we eat so that we don’t screw things up even worse than they already are, ecologically speaking. We have a responsibility to devise ways to feed ourselves that are humane, clean, sustainable, and economically viable. We have a responsibility not to eat or drink ourselves into such a state of ill health that we become a burden on our loved ones or The System. These responsibilities are not necessarily heavy impositions, but could be creative challenges. Addressing them need not include deprivation (well, I guess that depends upon how you define deprivation… which I am not going to do).
While we are here we should (ACK! That word!) probably try to enjoy ourselves as much as is reasonable while balancing our pleasure against utter destruction of the earth. I have no doubt that some people do well and feel great eating according to their rules. But have you noticed that many of these people get really bent out of shape if you are healthy and happy eating forbidden foods? It really pisses them off. Food fascist missionaries, they need to convert you in order to feel ok about their strict food rules. They’ll tell you that your diet isn’t healthy. They’ll tell you that you need a coffee enema. They’ll implore you to click on their link, read the article, gather the data and be converted. I shovel in another spoonful of ice cream or have another slice of toast (yep, delicious crunchy homemade white bread toast with homemade raw milk butter on it) while I listen to their tirade about the sins of wheat and sugar. Sigh. The toast is completely sublime.
But this is Yoga Pants, not Bossy Pants, so I won’t tell anyone how to eat. If you need help with eating well or cooking well, check out my green bean recipe and you’ll know you need to look elsewhere for instruction. The homeopathic coffee enema folks are probably right. They probably are eating better than me, and are healthier than me, and who knows – maybe they are happier than me too. But that toast… I don’t know. If there is a scale of gustatory joy, that toast might have the needle pinned at 10. My midmorning snack is yogurt I made with berries I picked. The raw milk dairy farmer knows me by name (not just that crazy dog lady with the frizzy hair) and waves to me from his tractor as he hays his field. I separate the cream from the milk to make chanterelle cream sauce for dinner – yep, I picked the chanterelles myself, on my property. I think I’m doing ok. In fact, if this is a lousy diet, I think I aspire to even greater heights of badness.