Thoughts on processed food.

I’m sitting here at my desk on a Monday morning in an extreme state of anxiety – for numerous reasons, none of which are worth discussing. It’s cold and dark. The sun is just starting to show on the horizon but it will still be some time before it’s light enough to go out to do chores – at least light enough so that I will go out to do chores. Luckily I don’t have to be done with them in order to get to work at 8 or 9 a.m. At least not this morning.

Yesterday, Wally and I met his brother, sister and sister-in-law for a holiday lunch at a local restaurant. I had apprehensions about going to lunch at that time of day – when everyone gets out of church and travel en masse to area restaurants. As it turned out that was a valid worry. The restaurant soon got super busy and there were issues with getting our meals the most gorgeous of which was that the tray containing some of our meals were passed around (once by a customer) the section of the restaurant we were sitting at several times before they finally got to our table.

While we’ve eaten at this restaurant before, I had lost my liking of it. I can’t eat a lot of processed food and like so many restaurants, this one serves a lot of processed food. Yesterday, I ordered chicken parmesan which came with two sides. That was a difficult decision because the sides that were available were all southern-type sides – pinto beans, lima beans, macaroni and cheese, etc. None of which really went with chicken parmesan, which I assumed, came with pasta, so I ordered a salad.

The salad came out and it was a large bed of iceberg lettuce (which I normally won’t touch) swimming – drowning really – in ranch dressing. Most restaurants serve salad with dressing not the side and the normal way I eat a salad is to dip my fork in the dressing then stab the lettuce, etc. and eat it. I don’t like a lot of dressing. I started to eat some of it but I couldn’t stomach it and sent it back. They brought out another salad with dressing on the side but my appetite for salad was gone. When the chicken parmesan came out, there was no pasta and the chicken tasted like cardboard.

As I sat there and everyone else ate I looked around and thought about how 20 or 30 years ago, after church, people would go to grandmother’s house and have a meal cooked in her kitchen. How we were sitting there, supposedly for a holiday get together at a restaurant where people all around us were working on a Sunday when they should have been home with their families. I thought about what the state of food was now – how everything is ultra-processed with chemicals to make it taste good. If I eat that type of food, even just a little bit, I feel awful afterwards. It’s a horrible thing because you crave the food and if you’re hungry you eat it but then, at least I, pay for it.

And for someone who’s so against processed food, I don’t cook from scratch enough and I really need to do better at that. Sometimes I just get lazy. I should have several beds of winter vegetables growing but I don’t because I was too lazy.

I’ve always enjoyed Wendell Berry’s writing and recently I’ve been reading more of it. I came across this quote this morning which brought back to mind the meal we had on Sunday.

“The passive American consumer, sitting down to a meal of pre-prepared food, confronts inert, anonymous substances that have been processed, dyed, breaded, sauced, gravied, ground, pulped, strained, blended, prettified, and sanitized beyond resemblance to any part of any creature that ever lived. The products of nature and agriculture have been made, to all appearances, the products of industry. Both eater and eaten are thus in exile from biological reality.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Wendell Berry

One of the things I’m anxious about is the final exam for my biology class. I’ve struggled through that class all semester and I’ll be so glad to get it done. I’m also concerned about getting the video done for my final project in the documentary class I’m taking. Even though I’ve tried three different times to get good footage and audio of my interview subject it still isn’t where I want it to be. It’s due Wednesday night and I’m worried I won’t be able to pull it together. After Wednesday I’ll be school-free for three weeks which will be a good thing.

Until later …