Food Fetish


And is it any wonder: toxic spinach, toxic buttbloating burgers, toxic food ignorance and indifference. Do we need more information or more self-control / less death by diet impulses?

Will power and caloric restraint cannot (yet) be legislated, but other information we can and will soon have before us to ignore at our peril (or whim). Consider the following:

The Guvernator has just mandated that CA restaurants will in future put caloric contents on menus and indoor billboards (invest in colored chalk!). WaPo

New food labels will show country of origin for beef, chicken, pork, fruits and veggies  WebMD

And the “average shopper” may soon be able to compare the food values of various grocery store items using the Overall Nutritional Quality Index (ONQI), a system supported by some of the largest grocery store chains. The results, hopefully, will be better choices by shoppers and better product formulation by industry so their products score higher on the scale. BalancedHealth

Meanwhile at my house, I’m thinking more about quantity, availability and storage of the food we produce or otherwise gather: for the potatoes from the garden lacking a proper root cellar; same for the turnips we may harvest in a month. And what about more wild foods (like the butternuts and walnuts we’re accumulating or the wild grapes pictured here from just down the road?) One particular wild food comes to mind that grows well at meadow’s edge, more on that in another post by and by.

In these days of National Angst, we may be more concerned about the eating than about what’s eaten. Yet life (and food education and regulation) must go on or we’ll still be fat and food-toxic the other side of the Dark Cloud of our days. So here’s hoping for better times ahead, and bon appetit.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. I’m glad country of origin labeling finally made it through all the intentional bureaucratic blockage. I more likely trust the “organic” designation from say, New Zealand, than from a country like China. However, the only foods that I can absolutely count on as being untouched by chemicals are the ones I grow myself, so I’m putting much more time and energy into intensive gardening year round. What started out as a hobby has turned into a lifeline to health. By the way, while I’m on the subject of intensive gardening, does anyone out there have any clues as to how to produce big potatoes? I’ve tried watering the heck out of them, growing them in a trench, adding compost only after they flower, and now am considering growing them in mulch, as suggested in an organic gardening article. So far, no luck.

  2. I used to have a lot of trouble keeping potatoes. There was no place reliably cold enough in my house. A couple of years ago I started storing them in a fridge. It works great. I have an extra fridge for potatoes, onions, turnips, apples, pears, anything that needs to stay cold. I go through all the boxes once a month to catch anything starting to spoil. Once the extra fridge gets eaten out some I can put the produce in my regular fridge and turn off the spare.