On food, all the glorious food…

Food Glorious food
We’re anxious to try it
Three banquets a day
Our favorite diet
Just picture a great big steak
Fried, roasted, or stewed
Oh food! magical food! wonderful
food! marvelous food!

Read more: Oliver – Food, Glorious Food Lyrics | MetroLyrics

A few days ago, I had a bit of a food-related rant on Twitter. I’ve been immersed in catching up on food documentaries since I got Netflix at the beginning of this year. I have been learning so much, and yet I’ve been getting so frustrated with food and people’s perception of food in general…

Between watching Mind of a Chef, Cooked, Chef’s Table, and then Tastemade on Apple TV, I have seen people planting their own food, cooking it and cooking seasonally. Nothing processed, and everything in its purest form – clean eating if you’re so inclined. But nevertheless, wholesome and hearty. Cooked with love and passion. But most of all, passion.

The people I’ve been watching all have an immense food knowledge. They forage. They plant. They raise their own animals. They cure their own meat. A labour of love. And it’s a LOT of labour. And I find myself thinking that maybe this is a labour I wouldn’t mind doing…

Problem is, where do you start? How do you grow the pair of balls necessary to take on such a task? Because I, for one, am frustrated.

I’m frustrated with the fact that processed foods are punted as the norm; from sausages to cold meats. Those yummy TV dinners and tinned meals (yo, corned meat), can absolutely not be good for you. Yes, we’ve all eaten some of those at some stage… I’m not even pretending that I haven’t scoffed a tin of spaghetti after school.

Do you know what goes into those products? Have you checked the food labels recently?

You could make a really great drinking game out of this. One shot for every unpronounceable or unidentifiable ingredient (Google the name, maybe it’s something useful. If not, drink). How long will you last?

Check your tinned food labels. Check your next loaf of bread – the popular loaf of bread you buy… yeah, that one. I’m not mentioning brands. More than 30 ingredients, where way back when, bread was made from flour, water and maybe some salt. TEN times more ingredients… no wonder it lasts more than a week. And you (and I) eat that quite willingly.

All these people find the cheapest way to imitate flavours and extend shelf life. Take those instant noodles, the staple of many a student. Look, at one stage or another most of us had this, regularly. But also just check those ingredients… it’s like a science lab in a packet. And yet, we eat it.

I now imagine a witch’s brew – powder of onion, red stuff, yellow stuff, green stuff, chicken-like flavour, eye of newt, toe of dragon… oh, wait, how’d that get in there?! STEVE!!! Yeah, like that. Ever think what really goes into that chicken flavour? Will you willingly eat it on your plate in it’s unprocessed form?

But what can we do?

With the current price of fresh ingredients (I mean, have you SEEN those prices lately?!) it’s hard to make a commitment to eat clean. Or fresh. Or purely homemade. The drought isn’t helping either, I know.

The price of a decent avo (not the rock hard ones that go off before they ripen) is something to cause a heart attack. Even if it contains good fats. The lettuce leaves look like they’ve thawed from frozen – they go that weird translucent colour after a day or two (come on, we’ve all been there – when your fridge freezes the whole veggie drawer…) – And hells bells, fruit… I can’t even. Then there are potatoes, carrots – not even the fancy stuff – that go off really quickly. I once had a weeping potato. You don’t want that, believe me. I have new respect for vodka makers worldwide. I cannot help but wonder if they’ve been in storage for too long before reaching shelves… hmm…

Here’s what I’m doing.

I’m educating myself. Or trying to.

I have planted a small veggie patch with basics that I use a lot and like to eat. Rocket, basil and lettuce so far. I’m waiting to see if the onions will germinate, and I want to try my hand at planting garlic.

For the rest, I buy frozen food – they have some, but less preservatives (just look at the label), and all of these foods were picked at optimal eating time, and not kept in weird refrigerators forever. That goes for frozen berries, basic veggies (carrots, peas, corn, etc.)

I support my local fruit & veg guy who stocks seasonal goods. He buys from farmers close by. And I will continue supporting him. The fruit and veggies are delicious, and still taste like they should. Which is a big bonus these days.

As for meat, well… I’m assuming that soon we’ll be doing more meat free evenings – I refuse to buy meat at a supermarket. I go to a butcher, who also knows where his food comes from. And what that food ate. I like being able to ask for specific cuts, and specific volumes. Not dictated by polystyrene packets and cling wrap.

We need to learn that fruit and veg aren’t always perfect looking, completely uniform and colourful. We need to start knowing where our food comes from, and what is edible in which season. Even Jamie Oliver says so, people. And these folks already sell them…

People need to educate their children about where food comes from, while they themselves learn more about it. Eggs come from chickens. McNuggets aren’t all chicken, but mom’s homemade ones (with breadcrumbs from yesterday’s stale sourdough bread), baked in the oven might be tastier… Beef makes those tasty steaks, and bacon, oh that’s the king of all food groups, honey.

I’m also going to attempt to bake my own bread…

But not with instant yeast, like I have always done, but with a sourdough starter. I’m naming him Harvey. And I will keep baking until I can make the tastiest bread. And pizza bases. And, and, and…

I will freeze fruit and veg that will go off before I use it – just quickly blanch it, portion it and freeze it to use in lunches, diners or smoothies. No wastage. I will make jams, pickles and preserved food, like my grandmother used to make. I will also share any extra bounty I have with others.

 


Note: After all of this, I basically just want to brew my own beer, bake my own bread, sit around a fire and sing kumbaya with the pig I’m about to roast while ridiculously drunk on my beer.

Extra note: I also need a curing room to dry cure my own meats and sausages. And a room to hang the garlic I will so righteously sow. AND a cow named Bessie. A chicken named Percy. A farm. And a huge pantry.

Extra, extra note: Most of the italics are that extra voice in my head jumping in. She says “hi”.


 

 

 

 

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