An Organic Start
When I was sixteen one of my aunts gave me a book on organic gardening. I’d just plowed up several rows of soil behind our little house in the suburbs and planted them with tomatoes, beans and bell peppers. That book was a real eye-opener for me. It made perfect sense that most if not all fertilizers were systemic, meaning that whatever you put on the outside of the plant makes its way inside the plant. Follow that logic and you begin to have a better appreciation for the phrase, “you are what you eat.”
So I happily became an organic gardener. I was proud of the fact that I was helping to provide clean vegetables for my family, but oddly enough it took years for me to think about how the food that I purchased at a grocery store was grown or treated. That blind spot also encompassed every meal I had when eating out.
Back On Track
To this day I can’t tell you what made me snap out of it, but about ten years ago I woke up, so to speak, and mentioned to my wife that I wanted to start gardening again. As I explained to her how important it was to me that the garden be organic, I started thinking that what we couldn’t grow ourselves needed to be organic as well, if possible. At the very least it needed to be clean, meaning as few ingredients as possible on prepared foods and mixes. So I started doing the grocery shopping and more of the cooking, and was pretty disappointed in the slim pickings at our local supermarket. We did have a Whole Foods in town, but we were a regular middle class family with a daughter in college and another in high school. No way no how could we afford to do all of our shopping at Whole Foods, and our little back yard was far too small to grow everything we needed, even if we were to make the decision to become vegetarians.
So we made small changes and looked at it as progress, a step in the right direction, and it was.
Six Months In
I won’t mention the brand, but there is a particular muffin mix on the market that I used to love, love, love. About six months after we made the decision to eat as clean as possible, as organic as we could afford, the weather turned cold and I wanted something warm from the oven. Some comfort food that always made me feel cozy.
So as I was looking in the pantry for ideas I spied a box of that muffin mix that I so dearly loved. Aha! Oh, I was so excited to mix that bad boy up and pop it in the oven. About a half hour later the muffins were ready just in time, because the anticipation was killing me. I took my first bite, and the flavor I was so familiar with was barely there. What? This tastes like…like…chemicals!
Chemicals! I grabbed the empty box out of the trash, thinking that it must have been in the pantry long past its “sell date,” but no, there were still a few years left. That was my first clue.
I turned the box over and read the ingredients. All twenty-two of them. All twenty-two of them! Before adding the milk and egg, those twenty-two ingredients were sixteen more than the muffins needed. That was my second clue. Most of the ingredients were man-made chemical compounds. For six months I had been eating relatively clean, and my taste buds had recovered to the point that I could now taste chemicals. Some of the chemicals were there to prolong shelf life, some of them were there to give the muffins the right color, and others were there for reasons that I’m still not sure of.
I was sure of one thing, though. None of those chemicals belonged in anything that I was interested in eating. I threw the muffins in the trash.
What’s Out There Wednesday
Have you heard about the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen? Take this list with you when you go shopping.
New video on Friday- Lime Tartlets!