My Grandma's Freezer
Have you ever seen a freezer looking like that? I took that picture last week, during a trip to my Grandma’s home in Saskatoon. I was so amazed at the lack of processed foods I had to immortalize it in photo. It was full of berries and frozen vegetables, most picked fresh from her farm. I’d never conceived of using a fridge freezer like that. I used to believe they designed fridges wrong. The fridge part should be the small bit, large enough to hold a few cases of beer and mustard. The freezer part was where all the pizzas and microwavable burritos and pre-made lasagnes went (y’know, the “food”) so why wasn’t it the largest?
My Mom's Back Yard, featuring raspberries in bloom
We went raspberry picking yesterday in my mom’s raspberry bushes and came home with an ice cream bucket full. We’ll eat some but most will get put into a ziploc bag or and placed in our freezer. The fridge side is full of fresh local organic vegetables I bought two days ago from a farmer’s market (I’ll be planting a garden of my own next year). I'm starting to understand classic fridge design.
Advertisements and constant news programs about “healthy eating” have corrupted what used to be basic common sense about eating. An easy rule to adopt is don’t eat anything your grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food because side-stepping the existing system is the easiest. When I arrived at Grandma’s place, she was making marshmallow-rice-crispy squares. Well, maybe my great grandma then. After telling grandma I’d shopped at a Saskatoon farmer’s market, a day or two earlier, she couldn’t understand why. She’d never shopped there because she knew the prices were crazy expensive. Not unlike Janine, yesterday, balking at the price of organic free-range chickens — “I can get two chickens for that price!”
My Grandma’s 90 years old and the concerns I have about Safeway’s food are virtually incomprehensible to her. The industrial food industry, using questionable chemicals and raising animals for slaughter like Henry Ford would’ve, simply didn’t exist when she was growing up. She assumes when buying tomatoes or steak that it was grown or raised like her neighbour would’ve done it when she was a child. And it tastes the same, maybe even better. After all, it’s been engineered by professionals to delight our taste buds. Crack feels good too; our senses can be deceived.
I should let Janine speak for herself, but like me, she’s much younger than Grandma. Like me, she’s been raised from birth in a culture that has long since given up my Grandma’s ways as “quaint” and “unprofitable”. Cheap food is good value and saving money is an admirable quality. Cheap food represent economies of scale and shortcuts. Economies of scale give us things like mad cow disease. And most of those shortcuts contravene nature, evolution, millenniums of accumulated cultural knowledge and common sense. But how do we prove which ones? Much like “proving” smoking is harmful, “proving” baby formula isn’t as good as breast milk, “proving” hydrogenated fats are bad, or “proving” global warming, it’s up to us to “prove” that what the majority of the food industry does is unhealthy. Why the burden of proof rests with us individuals is simple: they have more money. Learning if or why it matters takes time, and effort and I mean, fuck it, marshmallow squares taste good, right? I ate three.
In my youth I remember we went to pick berries at Grandma’s farm… or maybe it was one of my aunt’s… but all I remember is burning my finger on the car’s cigarette lighter and the incredible pain -- but don’t tell anyone because I shouldn’t've been playing with it so I sucked on my finger and it hurt for days. Yesterday I kept asking my mom questions about how do you know when to cut the raspberry bushes back… learning that you have to look under the leaves because that’s where they hide… remembering that they are prickly little trees. This is work and the kind I used to avoid. It’s not like I wanted gross fruit from my mom’s disgusting garden. It was better if it came from a store, at least then I knew it had been grown properly, not that I would’ve bought fruit anyway, hamburgers taste better (and not those disgusting homemade ones my mom would make).
♫ the times, they are a-changin’ ♫