Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vol #1, Col #11: Domestic Bliss & the Glory of Food

I remember a few years back when I attended the orientation for my current post-secondary institute. The mother of someone who was to become one of my future classmates raised her hand in a frenzy to ask one of the coordinators who she could possibly pay to do her child’s laundry? I sat there astonished – uncertain as to whether I should be laughing or shaking my head in shame for the single reason that her kid was so ill-equipped for life, in his late teen years, that he didn’t even know when to use the spin or rinse cycle. My conclusion – that’s likely the least of his problems! This whole episode got me thinking…

While I could have simply written off this poor woman and her highly sheltered (moreover coddled) son as an anomaly, I started to look around. I realized what a rare thing in fact it was (and still is) to come across someone my age who is skilled in “the domestic arts” (and yes, they do constitute an art form of their own). But it’s NOT just people my age either – when it comes to good old fashioned home-cooking, making one’s house spick and span, or completing one’s own handiwork, it seems that most of us opt for the most “convenient” route, which when it comes to the latter of the two tasks involves the hiring of hands, instead of getting one’s own dirty. The consequence? Well, aside from spending unnecessary dollars, because these skills no longer occupy a place in our hearts (or minds) in which they are considered “essential” and therefore merit transmission among the generations, we, as a society, have become increasingly dependent upon one another for menial labour (read: increasingly de-skilled), and we all know who gets shafted with said ill-paying and undesirable jobs (no it ain’t us Ivy League grads, that’s for sure).

More than this however, when it comes to the “art of cooking”, in specific, I mean I’m not really surprised by the exorbitant amount of people knocking off from heart attacks, liver damage, or the like considering the crap (and yes, I said it bluntly) that most of us are consuming (and I’m not just talking the root of all evil here; that being the “fast-food” empire). God knows what the hell that neon orange powder labelled as “cheese mix” in a certain major corporation’s attempt at macaroni actually is, not to mention all of the additives that are, well “added” to our food, and/or all of the genetic tinkering that is going on. Frankly, just for pure “sanitary” reasons, I’d much rather make things from scratch (see the movie, Fast Food Nation, and I can almost guarantee unless you’ve got a real hardy stomach that you’ll seriously think twice about ordering in, eating out, and frankly just buying “ground-up” products in general from now on!).

Aside from how much our food processing and manufacturing has changed (oh the days before factory farming existed, I miss good ole’ Ma and Pa on their ranch, how ‘bout you?), along with our increased access to products that at one point were relegated to specific seasons and/or geographic terrains (thanks to globalization, we can now enjoy any fruit items we desire all year around, but one has to wonder how much pesticides, hormones, and whatever the hell else they’re putting in there for “freshness” you’re ingesting in the process), in my view it seems that our love of consumption (food that is, we’re all good when it comes to buying unnecessary materialistic items like Ipods and I say that as a musician!) has dwindled significantly. I mean whatever happened to the art of enjoying not just the meal itself, but the act of preparation? Why is it considered odd that I spend on average two hours a night making myself quite the lovely feast (well I am Italian, it comes with the territory!)? If you’re going to spend money on anything, shouldn’t your health top that list? Shouldn’t you care what you’re taking in as a source of nourishment and accordingly, take pride in making the necessary task of replenishment an enjoyable one? I don’t know, this all seems like common sense to me.

Undoubtedly, there’s a lot of misinformation (and blatant attempts at brainwashing for that matter) out there regarding making “healthier” eating choices. In fact, just the other day, I had a friend, who has never exactly been what I would call a striking example of someone who’s at the top of their game health-wise, actually try to convince me that there is NO difference between organic and factory-farmed produce, and that it’s all just media hype. Well I can tell you all in sincerity, that since I’ve gone organic and vegan, I have never felt or looked better – I’d say that’s pretty hard evidence to argue, but I’m not here to pick hairs (well I am, but not his!).

The point. The point. Yes I’m getting there. I guess I just find it rather illogical that so many people claim that the reason as to why they rely on those barely edible and highly questionable concoctions known as “microwave dinners” as their regular source of fuel (along with why they also don’t attempt to exercise, or leave their house really unless absolutely necessary) is that they just don’t have the time. It’s ALWAYS about time! Well, time in itself is a socially created concept (we don’t have “time”, as it were, to go there). Sure, the sun rises, the sun falls, people age, but this whole 24 hour clock business – it doesn’t exist in every culture.

**Moreover, the ironic part of this whole “time excuse” is that likely in the long run if people were to spend MORE time NOW investing into their health, they’d have MORE time OVERALL in their lives, thereby making this whole rushing about business to get everything accomplished within a limited timeframe rather pointless, and kinda humorous when you look at it purely as an observer.

Ah, but this “time excuse” as I’ve just described hinges on a much deeper and more profound issue in contemporary life, and that my friends is our focus on retroactive thinking, as opposed to planning for the future wisely.

Whether it’s in regards to one’s health, social policy, environmental legislation, or even manufacturing protocol, it’s always about what will benefit us NOW at the cheapest cost and via the most efficient route. And we wonder why we are now paying for problems that were predicted centuries ago? Damn retroactive thinking – gets ya like a bitch every time. Perhaps that’s enough food for thought this week.