Tuesday, April 12, 2005


The whole idea behind McDonald’s was that whether you got a burger in the Coalfields or in the salt flats, it would taste exactly the same. Conformity. And that has crept into just about everything (carpet cleaning franchises, oil change franchises, yoga certifications, fashion magazines, you name it, all to make it all conform to one standard) but especially food.

Used to, and not even so long ago, everything that could be produced locally was. There were slaughter houses that were open year ‘round (not just for hunting and hog killing seasons) and custom butchers who were all dealing in local meat. There were so many egg houses that if you drive just about anywhere in the country now you‘ll see the corpse of one. Milk was local, even if it wasn’t still delivered. That is the only thing left, a few dairies operating, but mostly gargantuan. There were farmers doing lots of different things, beans one specialty I knew of. Apple orchards were big business, and all apples were local apples. There were surely more things I wasn’t aware of too.

Now, basically nothing is local. Cows are born and raised here, but sold and shipped to the feed lots in the Midwest for fattening. Eggs and chickens and pigs are all on factory farms somewhere else producing pollution that no one knows what to do with. There are still lots of apples grown here and yet there are apples in the grocery from Israel and Washington State and NYS and somewhere in South America.

And everything tastes the same.

Real food tastes different all the time. The cow ate something different the other day and we could taste it in her milk. It wasn’t the most pleasant variation but the thing is, it is normal. But it occurred to me that that was why even so-called “organic” dairies do as much confinement as possible, and rid their fields of every weed (that might well be nutritious and/or medicinal to the livestock), in order to control the final product that is always the same.

Take butter -- it is supposed to be bright yellow in the spring and summer and turn whiter in the winter due to the presence or absence of chlorophyll in the diet. Hens eggs get not only more numerous in the spring, but when they can get grass and moss and lichens and also the bugs that eat grass and moss and lichens that then concentrate the pigments in their little bug bodies, the yolks get orange, almost glow in the dark orange. That is what nutrition looks like. Not white, bland, sans texture. My bet is that our diets ought move with the seasons too.

And I suppose I should not even get started on refined. Over-processed. Crap. Food.

So I’m a foodie. Shoot me. I like all the different tastes. The subtle differences in the purple pods and the McCaslins and the half-runners and the greasies, all different kinds of green (snap) beans. The red corn vs. the white corn in gems. I like the butter where the cream has gone a bit sour before churning. I like the cheese with the stinky amylase enzyme in it.

It is ok to taste food and not like it. Better for the food to have a taste you don’t like than to be tasteless, unfulfilling, unsatisfying pabulum.

Did I mention that our compost grown carrots taste so strongly of sweet carrot that it goes up your nose when you bite into one? Carrot cubed. Wonderful. And since we’ve never been able to grow enough carrots to satisfy us, we have an entire carrot project, with individually seeded tubes that then get transplanted into the garden. It is kind of funny I guess, but so far so good.

Which, I saw my first ladybug the other day. And the redbuds (a wild flowering tree that is really more purple than red, or a combination of bright lavender and magenta) are blooming.

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