Friday, February 26, 2010

Working on a new relationship with food

In my stumbles around the internet I came across a very interesting video. Jamie Oliver was given a TED Prize this year. He gave a 22 minute talk discussing why he got the prize:



I'm of two minds (not an unusual occurrence) about Oliver's mission. I agree that most of us need to change our relationship with food. I just wish he wouldn't go on and on about obesity as if it were the same for everyone. There is a set weight that is determined by a lot of different factors at different times.

In the late 1880s, Lillian Russell was considered the most beautiful woman in America. She weighed over 200 pounds. She lived to the age of 61. She died of complications from an injury she got while returning to the US from Europe. Years ago I remember a female Olympic bobsledder weighed 200 pounds and that's mostly what the male sports announcers talked about whenever she was on camera. If you look on YouTube you will find a video of a 200 female body builder.

My point? All three women would be considered obese by today's standards. You can live outside the norm and still be healthy. I think focusing on a person's weight when you talk about health is misleading. I've always been big and yes I have health problems. All of my health problems are inherited. I would have them whether I weighed 130 lbs. or 330 lbs. I will admit that my weight is currently exasperating one of those problems.

That's one of the reasons I started this blog. I'm trying to "eat better". I want to explore both magic and food. I think I would be much happier if I found the point where those things connect. Some how I want to put my knowledge and ability together to make something more. I don't know what the final project will look like. It will still be a life but hopefully a better, more serene life. The cynic in me is having a field day...

Back to Mr. Oliver.We do have to teach our children how to cook. We do need to make sure kids know where our food comes from. It doesn't come out of a box. Not naturally anyway.

My mother did not know how to cook... actually I have a suspicion that she just didn't like to cook. My grandmother (who I remember making donuts and Long John's on  a regular basis) became ill, with some mysterious disease that was never talked about, when my mother was 10. As the oldest girl of seven children it fell to her to take her mother's work. She couldn't have been too bad at the job because they all survived. Maybe by the time I came along my mother was tired of cooking. Maybe she just gave up.

I can remember two recipes she made regularly: cabbage rolls (the German kind with lots of ground beef) and macaroni and potatoes. When I was in elementary school we lived across the street from a KFC. There was a corner store next to our house. I had a brother who was 13 years older than me still living at home. I can't remember him ever cooking anything. I do remember him running over to KFC for burgers quite often.

When I was in high school my lunch, almost everyday, was a chocolate bar and a coke. I also went through packs and packs of chewing gum. This was before the "sugarless" revolution. From age 13 to 19 I lived with my sister and her family (long story) and the food was better. I remember my sister making beef stroganoff, chilli and, for a while, tuna noddle casserole. Many Fridays or Saturdays were pizza night. For a while my sister made her own pizza from scratch and froze them. I'm not sure when she stopped or why. Sudays during the summer were BBQ steak and potatoes.

In grade 10 I took "Home Economics" which had nothing to do with homes or economics. The topic was cooking. I don't remember learning to cook anything specific in the class. At some point during my high school year my sister got into a car accident. She was bed ridden for a long time. While she was in bed I was in charge of cooking and cleaning. I don't remember too much about that period so I'm guessing it wasn't that traumatic. I like to cook for people.

I don't like to cook for myself.

That's quite a problem since I like living alone. My typical meal consists of some kind of meat that I can slap between two pieces of bread and add some cheese. Then I eat it while watching the Food Network.

Yeah I have a masochistic streak.

Every now and then I decide that I'm going "eat better" and cook real meals. I can cook. I can even make sushi - a big achievement for a prairie girl. I have a cupboard full of cookbooks. I have the ability to plan a weeks worth of meals but I don't. I make a shopping list, check it twice and leave it at home.

I've got to find the motivation somewhere. If I had been taught about food properly when I was young this wouldn't be a problem. I hope Oliver's revolution sweeps the planet. I just wish that he'd stop focusing on weight and just get on with it.
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