Monday, October 26, 2009

Misleading Food

I just returned from a whirlwind weekend trip to Nebraska to celebrate my husband's grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary and to pick up my children from their solo visit with their grandparents. This was my first plane trip without children in 4 and a half years and I got an incredible amount of reading done. I finished reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which is inspirational, amazing, hunger-pang inducing. It makes me feel a bit of a fraud for attempting my own local food movement, though Barbara addresses that beautifully, explaining that any attempt at using fewer fossil fuels to get food should cause pride and not embarrassment.

Anyway, along with wishing I had more healthy soil, a chicken coop, and an outdoor bread oven, I was also struck by the protected little world of local food in which I dwell. I may roll my eyes in the grocery store at the packaged, processed food, but in reality, the people I am around most often do a remarkable job of buying local. It is a rare farmers' market day when I don't see dozens of people I know buying food grown within 20, 30, 100 miles of our town.

Air travel is a bit misleading because the airport has a captive audience and no one is offering turnips or heirloom tomatoes, but this weekend I was amazed at the sheer volume of packaged food, and a lot of it packaged as healthy (low fat! no trans fats! low sodium!). I was in the grocery store and saw a newly walking toddler heading for a tower of soda and her mother was telling her she couldn't have any more soda today.

I was filling the sugar container a few weeks ago and noticed on the 5 lb. bag this nutritional note: sugar is a 100% natural simple carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are an important part of any balanced diet. A is true. B is true. But how many people do not know that A does not equal B in this statement? And this is the problem I think a lot of people have. They don't mean to feed their children non-nutitious food. They want them to grow up strong, healthy, and intelligent about food. But they themselves don't understand that just because something doesn't have fat or just because a package says the product within is "part of a healthy diet" it is not necessarily true.

I feel very lucky to be surrounded by so many people who understand that not all food is created equal.


Regular old hamburger is pretty boring, I find. Years ago I came up with this recipe as a last minute desperate attempt to stretch the meat I had when an extra guest appeared for dinner, but it was such a hit that I've made hamburger this way ever since.

Makes 4 or 5 burgers; double as necessary

2 pounds hamburger
3 or 4 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup fine bread crumbs
spices of your choice (oregano, basil, thyme, tarragon)
1/2 teas each salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well and form into patties.
Grill or pan fry, very approximately 8 minutes per side until done to your taste.