(Title quote from Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin.)
Aaron is what we in Weight-Watchers-land call the “gatekeeper” — he’s the purchaser of the food for our household, and therefore has the final say on what comes into the house. For some people, especially womenfolk, not being the main shopper would be an issue; for us, it works out just fine. (I had to make a solo grocery shopping trip once, when Aaron had the flu, and did manage to make it home with pretty much everything we needed for the week.) He’s the label-reader, the Points®-calculator, and I gladly eat what he brings home, because it’s delicious and nutritious. And I rarely think more about it, beyond counting my daily Points® intake.
Through various sources, I’m becoming more aware of what we’re eating and where our food comes from. I’m realizing how much of the food we eat has been dosed with unnecessary additives and excessively processed. I’m also realizing how much convenience food we eat — not necessarily a bad thing, but one that should nonetheless be acknowledged.
Aaron and I discussed the trade-off last night, after watching the documentary Food, Inc. together. In today’s society, it would be a major challenge for us to eat entirely unprocessed, organic, local foods year-round. With the government subsidizing so many commodity crops and very little produce, eating healthy and local can be damnably expensive — especially as compared to the Value Menu at the local Burger Doodle. If we were only to buy local, in-season produce; and only purchase farm-fresh eggs and locally-processed poultry; and buy only the basic ingredients whose origins we could easily identify — in that case, we would need both of our incomes more than ever, yet one of us would need to stay home and cook all day, baking and preparing and roasting and canning and freezing, and likely tending a garden.
Even though that’s not a reasonable scenario for us, I’ve realized that there are some kitchen skills that it wouldn’t hurt me to learn (or re-learn, since my Mom did teach me these things as a youth). Things like baking a passable loaf of bread, or quartering a chicken. If we ever decided to drive out to an organic farm and buy an expensive chicken or three, it wouldn’t do to get home and realize that I’d forgotten the finer points of separating the thigh from the body, or peeling the breast off the bone.
So, I have a few minor, personal culinary goals set for myself. I’m not likely to become one of those hippy-dippy cooking fiends pictured in The New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook anytime soon, but I can at least reach a level where I won’t destroy the expensive organic ingredients we’re likely to branch out and try.