Sunday, October 24, 2010

Processed Pleasures

We eat a fairly whole foods diet, whatever that means because it means different things to different people. I am happy with our diet, but I'm always tweaking and improving.  I am a mother after all and not a day goes by that I don't think of what I put into the growing bodies I love.  Above and beyond being vegan, which is primarily an ethical choice, I pay close attention (my husband might even say I'm obsessed at times) to nutrition.  I love to read about nutrition and am always looking at the latest research.  I am not quick to jump on food fads, but I will add foods or limit foods depending on what makes sense to me from a nutrition stand point.  I do believe in moderation for many things, but I don't agree everything in moderation. A little bit of lead, a spoonful of mercury, or a nip of arsenic...you get the point.  I also think our culture has completely lost any rational thought when it comes to moderation.  We are spiraling completely out of control, trying to fill a hole which can't be filled with all the pretty prepackaged foods in the world or the biggest houses or the newest electronics.  We are labeled consumers first and we don't seem to mind.  As a family, we talk quite a bit about marketing and choices...food and non-food related.

Rob and I grew up in houses where our extremely busy mothers cooked...meals...all the time.  Fast food was not an option or was a rarity.  Yet, I can speak for my experience, my mother thought of nourishing her family with foods they loved more than foods which were good for them.  It is understandable and sweet.  She would make special foods for me, the picky eater who hated all veggies and loved cheese, and try very hard to sneak some nutrition, but in the end, my love of a food would trump healthy choices.  She was known for loving people through food, even as she killed herself through food.  So much is in that which we put in our mouths.  Food really is more than the sum of its parts.  I love the movie, Ratatouille, and almost cry each time I watch it.  The flashback to Ego's childhood with his mother feeding him and the true meaning of comfort food...I think I might bawl now just thinking about it.  Oh so much wrapped up in simple smells or tastes or textures.  It is impossible for me to completely unwrap it all in a simple blog post.

Suffice it to say, once in a while, I crave a processed food.  Not because I miss cheese, but because my mother lovingly or maybe sometimes begrudgingly would slice up the Velveeta, add some milk and I'm guessing some seasonings in this wonderful big pot of hers.  She would stir it as it melted and pour the sauce over enriched white macaroni.  When I close my eyes and think of this dish, I can almost feel her presence...almost smell her, as if I could reach out and touch her.  I miss her more than I could possibly express, but those of you who have lost mothers...especially those of you who have lost mothers far too young, you understand and no words are needed.
Thus, there are days when I pick up some sale Daiya and Follow Your Heart vegan cheeses and want to hug them.  I don't think my mother ever made quesadillas.  In fact, I don't think I've ever eaten a non-vegan quesadilla, but it does have processed pleasure written all over it.  You can make vegan quesadilla pretty healthy with kale and sweet potato filling and they are out of this world.  Sometimes, just sometimes, it is fun to make them out of Daiya and prepackaged guacamole (this is my first time trying this product and now there is an organic version sold at Strawberry Fields or Common Ground...my friend, Sarah, would sometimes bring prepackaged guac to our homeschooling group and I didn't quite get the beauty of it, I mean how hard is guac to make from scratch...yet I rarely make it and just add naked avocado to most anything...I'm a prepackaged guac groupie now, thanks Sarah!).  The quesadillas pictured above have homemade black beans in them too.  Also pictured is a tamale from the grab and go case at the co-op and  salsa.  Ironically enough, the only people who really fell for the quesadillas was Rob and me (Parker ate one or two because he is awesome to cook for), but Dema and Josie turned up their noses and scarfed down their favorite kale sweet potato tamales instead.
Here is a grilled vegan cheese Rob made months ago (I think back in April which shows how often we make food like this).  He added his secret ingredient...vegan Worcester sauce which totally made the sandwich.  Sorry, I can't remember for the life of me what yummy creamed soup is pictured.  It might be a cheeze soup as well, but with nooch.  Again, I remember the soup being a hit and the grilled cheese going over so so with the kiddos.

Some people slam vegan diets because "tofu is too processed" (say this in a whiny annoying voice for full effect) or closer to the truth "vegan cheeses are unnatural".  I would probably agree with the later, but I don't think any cheese is really natural.  I don't think there is something lacking in the human body which makes us, alone of all the mammals on the planet, need the mammary excrement of another mammal....let alone make it into a myriad of cheeses.  I would also argue that Velveeta (although I don't know if any people making these comments would actually eat a Kraft cheese product) is just as "unnatural" or " processed" as vegan cheeses.  I would also say that one can't get more processed than feeding food to another animal and keeping the animal alive for fraction of their natural life and then slaughtering him/her for meat.  I don't mean to come off as someone who doesn't want her choices questioned by anyone.  I'm happy to listen and willing to debate on the rare occasions when people seem genuinely interested in respectfully exploring the topic.  I am very happy that what we eat is breaking through to the collective conscience of this great nation of ours and that people, to be blunt, even give a damn.  But, from time to time, it is nice to take off the health nut hat and put the blinders on myself and partake of the Kool-aid (as long as I can stay true to my ethics).  I mean, we only live once, right?  Everything in moderation.

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I'm hearin' ya. And I'm actually thinking how thrilled I would be if someone brought prepackaged gauc to our homeschooling group...rather than Goldfish, cheese pizza, or you know what kind of nuggets...