Do you ever have brief moments where some out of the random blue mental event occurs and you’re flashing on a concept you had no recognition about just moments before? As I continue to inundate my brain and some other senses with all of this food stuff, I believe a slow, almost imperceptible transformation is occurring in how I’m conceptualizing what food really is.
Well, really is to me anyway. Speaking for others and their relationships to food is not something I’m qualified to do now. Or ever, I suspect. My journey thus far has made it clear that like most things in our world, you can lead the horse to water, but not have it produce a triple macchiato for you!
An overriding theme of the Michael Pollan book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” relates to “real food“. He essentially boils it down to whether or not your grandmother would recognize that which you call food. Obviously, there’s much more to his theories, however, at the nutshell level of things, this really encapsulates the concept.
Would she recognize yogurt in the tube as a real food? Some of the products populating the interior grocery store aisles might have little if any recognition by our ancestors.
My question then becomes just what do we recognize as real food? How much processing and industrialization can be considered okay and not harmful to the status of ingredients which make up a food product?
Allow me to illustrate this grand maternal query with discussion of my breakfast today. Well, okay, if you follow me on twitter you know that breakfast was clearly timed during the traditional lunch hours. But what I had for “lunch” was very clearly breakfast foods, and if I’d asked the question “Would Grandma recognize my lunch?” the easy answer would have been, Uhm, no dude. Your lunch is any sane individuals breakfast. Hence the post title. Don’t hate me, you eat breakfast for dinner 😉
On my plate were 4 eggs cooked sunny side up, with only a small bit of runny yolks. These are not organic, farm fresh eggs whose producers actually understand there is a real world outside that little hen door to the pasture. Please try not to tell me about how bad it was to eat 4 eggs at one meal. I did it. Enough!
There was 4 slices of 12 grain bread. Ironically, on the shelf at the store was 12 grain right next to 7 grain. I remember when reaching for a loaf do they think someone stands here asking themselves if they really need those extra 5 grains? Or the flip side of that question, I can get 5 more grains for the same price? What, they think me a sucker?
5 slices of bacon. No, not the super yummy real pork bacon, but turkey bacon. It’s good too. It really tries to be bacon. When you close your eyes and inhale the aromas of the frying turkey bacon, you can almost, for the briefest of moments convince yourself its real bacon. But it’s not. It is a nice substitute for those that have perfectly legitimate reasons for not wanting to eat pork bacon. But it’s not bacon.
Oh, almost forgot the hash browns. These came from a package, industrial sized pack, of the little hash brown patties. You know the ones I’m referring to? Little rectangles of frozen, previously, mostly cooked hashed potatoes about 3/8 in thick. Rounded corners.
On my plate, I believe grandma would know that I was indeed eating breakfast (for lunch) and be able to identify the various foods. Maybe not the bacon. It does look like a caricature of bacon, so she’d be able to guess what it was supposed to be.
More importantly, however, to the concept of eating foods grown and raised locally, is whether she would have recognized how my meal had gotten to my plate from its various points of origin. Would she recognize the industrial farming practices that produced my eggs from animals whose sole purpose is to lay egg after egg with little to no consideration for the hen’s quality of life?
Would she even begin to understand that the bacon-like product on my plate was simply manufactured bits and pieces left over at the bottom of the barrel after turkey meat is harvested and ever divided into one form or another? Many of those forms being meat substitutes like this very bacon.
The hash browns? I’d bet she couldn’t even predict what continent they were grown on nor how long it had been since they were pulled from the ground (by a mechanical arm most likely).
And the bread. I’ve never seen a homemade loaf look as perfect as store bought bread. My herculean efforts and breadmaker product never even comes remotely close to that product I pull out of a bag.
But she would recognize what was on the plate. And that’s exactly how the industrialized food businesses of our modern world want it to be. Real food has but a distant memory imprinted, somewhere, in our brains. Food manufacturers only need to do just enough with sights, sounds, and smells of what ends up on the plate to fool even my grandma into believing she is actually eating breakfast (for lunch!)
So, yeah. All that ran through my head as I ate my lunch (er, breakfast.) Was it the best I’d ever had? Can’t honestly say that it was. Definitely not the worst meal by any stretch of the imagination. I just don’t know that it was a “Real Food Meal“. And it is real food that I’m hoping to start experiencing much more regularly.
Hopefully, you’re interested in learning more about real food that is locally grown using sustainable, ethical, and healthy practices. If you are, be sure to subscribe to the feed for this site. My plans are to continue sharing what I learn on being a locavore, as well as how to cook that food and make it the most yummy real food you can eat.
Hoping to hear your thoughts, if you have any, on the concept of how the food industry has manipulated your grandma’s perceptions of food.
Have a great weekend!