The trip to Tucson was a success! As delicious as the aromas from the Brooklyn pizza smelled, and as much as I wanted to munch on salted fried goodies while we all hung out and drank wine, I did not give in…I wanted to glorify my triumph and give my self the grandest pat-on-the-back of all time, but I just haven’t had the energy to do so. I actually haven’t had the energy to do much of anything. This shit is down right depressing. All this self denial is driving me straight to to self detriment. I’m eating twice as much as I normally would to try and satisfy a deep yearning for…chocolate, coffee, salt, carbs, butter: all things holy. This wasn’t meant to be some oppressively restrictive diet. It was meant to be an opportunity to explore what’s true and alive in the Southwest region as well as other regions in our country.
I find myself disconnecting from all things familiar in an attempt to connect with the nurturing sustenance provided solely by Mother Earth. Haha, it sounds like I’m worshipping the land in a sort of Native American way. Not that that in and of itself is comical. It’s just not me. I mean, I am Native American, but that’s merely by bloodline. Ugh. What I mean is, it’s just any easy frame of reference for those like myself who are retardedly inhibited by linguistics. I suck at the English language, but it’s the only one I’ve got!
My social life is dying and I feel more and more confined to my little red brick duplexed apartment in the Coronado district of downtown Phoenix. It’s my safe haven. I race home everyday after work to stuff my face after 8+ hours of fasting. Knowing I wasn’t going to be eating out or able to indulge in a cold brew at the local pub (which are HUGE parts of socializing), I had this fantasy of having friends over for amazing dinners and wine provided by hard working farmers, ranchers and vintners within our community. However, I just can’t bring myself to serve them the nearly flavorless and limited in variety shit I’ve been enduring. Not that the product isn’t great, but without salt, it’s just not the same. It’s nearly not even edible half of the time. Maybe that’s just my over stimulated, bludgeoned American taste buds speaking. But alas I am starving, so I eat. Maybe I’m not starving (all the time), but I’m definitely not satiated. Ever. And that’s not something I want to share with others.
I don’t mean to be so negative, but oppression has been a dark cloud looming over a smiley girl’s dream. I’m heading out for round two of trips away from my safe haven: Flagstaff here I come! Plenty of attractive hippy men there to keep me preoccupied (fingers crossed), and I’ll definitely be visiting their farmers market early Sunday morning! Exciting times lay ahead. I am convinced! I am locked and loaded with plenty of Pillsbury wine to ensure this to be true :) Godspeed!
After the first two days of going hardcore-all-out with this quest for real true food connected to the land on which gravity keeps my feet planted, I found myself having trouble remembering if I loved or hated food. The first 48 hours left me in a state of delirium; distraught over the convenience of engulfing in sustenance when and where I please. Good gawd, it was a rough start, and it continues to be more than rocky. The two hardest items to live without, that I never realized I took for granted, are salt and cooking fat; whether that be oil, butter, or lard. I’m a human for crying out loud, not a fucking rabbit! I can only do so much raw food at a time. I get that people do all raw food diets. Really. I get it, but I’m gonna have to go with a big fat no thanks to that one.
Although, fat has become a swear word in a lot of households, it is something I’d be willing to sell my body for, just to get my hands on a few ounces. Luckily, my friend, Coppa, is one easy dude. All it took was a little batting of the lashes and a coy smile to get him to offer me some heaven sent pork fat. Ok, ok, so he’s not exactly easy, and I’m not exactly THAT alluring. However, the pork fat he offered my desperate soul was nothing short of heaven sent. I’m so grateful that he as developed the skills of butchering and breaking down whole Berkshire hogs. I’m not sure that I would have survived much longer without a legitimized source of cooking fat. Coppa, you have no idea, but you just temporarily stepped into the shoes of my Savior.
The scarcity of a fat based cooking agent had left me so distraught, I literally spent 6 hours of my day cooking anything and everything in my kitchen, once I happened upon the celestial substance. Refried beans. Sauteed veg. Zucchini chips. I had all of the above and some sizzling in pork fat. Thank God I’m not Muslim. Too far? No way because I didn’t mean it in that way, so lay off me, I’m fucking starving! A bit later in the evening, I broiled some chicken, and I noticed that a lot of the fat had collected in the dripping pan, so I spent another hour roasting butternut squash in its remains. Fat just trumped uranium in my commodity stock market. Seriously.
One major road block by passed, and I have no idea how many more stand in the way. Salt is an obvious Mt Everest in the middle of my road to a fertile and sustainable community of nourishment in the southwest region, but it’s something I could possibly live without. However, friends are not something I could live without and still feel whole. That’s why this weekend will be my first big challenge yet. I’m driving down to Tucson for a besties house warming party. Everyone is to bring some sort of food or booze offering. I don’t know that I’m mentally prepared to deal with all of the questions, misunderstandings, and short-of-informed criticisms that will prevail when I begin to hungrily nosh on my own homemade eats whilst staying clear of the casseroles, chips, dips, and pre-made Costco indulgences that inundate the kitchen counter tops. At least I’ll have the comfort of knowing my diet just became semi-normalized with the addition of fat.
Side Note: My last entry of the guidelines to this whole excursion was largely shaped by a good friend who has decided to amalgamate in this seemingly nonviable journey. I didn’t mean to plagiarize his words, although my source citing skills have become a bit rusty since undergrad. So here’s a shout out to Big P for his brilliant words, love and understanding of interdependence as a form of survival and a higher quality of nutriment.
Goal: For 100 days to consume “real” foodstuff — defined for these purposes as food connected to a real person and a real place; free from the bonds of the food “industry.”
How we do it (the rules. word.):
There is only to be one degree of separation from us (myself + those who want to get in on this!) to the foodstuff to be consumed.
All food and beverage consumed must be grown, raised, produced, foraged, harvested, fished, or hunted by either ourselves or a person we have a tangible connection to. I feel like we need to define the “connection” here. I feel like emails/phone calls can lend themselves to a “cop out.” At what point are we connected to the grower, hunter, fisher, etc.? At an exchange of names? Handshake? An understanding of why they do what they do. Well, when it all comes down to it, you don’t know unless you go. Meaning people will tell you what you want to hear, whether or not it holds water. The biggest buzz words around the market and trendy restaurants “organic” and “local.” Cool?!. Did you grow it? Harvest it? Forage it? Raise it? Do you have any connection to the product your trying to sell me that isn’t strictly monetary? Ok, so then we have to physically meet the person who has had a hand in it as verification.
The foodstuff must come to us either in its raw natural state “directly from the earth” or if processed it must be handcrafted by non industrial (small production) means, and the person processing it must have a significant and sincere connection to the sourcing of the ingredient. This includes artisan food makers. The main ingredient in the product has to come from one of our own personally trusted sources with whom we have established a personal relationship. The lesser ingredients may or may not be from one of our accepted sources. Why? Great question! The goal in this quest does not only operate on a personal level but on a scale that involves the entire community. I would love to develop a sustainable food system (which is at least 27 more blog posts and a huge part of the motivation for this project) within Phoenix and have that ripple across the world. To be sustainable requires balance. In my mind, when there is balance, the system is whole. To have a holistic entity, ingredients which are not native to the region are often necessary. Geographical origin isn’t the only commodity with immunity here; industrial items such as iodized salt and artificial sausage casings are also given a get-out-of-jail-free card here. Seems hypocritical? I get that we could technically survive with out these artisan guys. Sure. However, these dudes crafts would not survive. There are too many knots to untangle with our current food systems, and when push comes to shove, they are the lesser of a thousand evils. They’re on the right track and the majority of their product is legit. That’s a passing grade!
The foodstuff must come from a person working on behalf of him or herself not on behalf of a company or organization. If the operation has grown to the point where the original dude is sitting up under some palm trees, retired from the task at hand while some migrant field workers or craigslist peeps are tending crop, that shit is not legit and totally off limits. When the main farmer is no longer getting his hands dirty, he’s no longer looking to sustain a community…solely himself. Not cool.
Nothing allowed which comes from the industrialized food system, including items like cigarettes (anyone know someone who grows their own tobacco?!), gum, bottled water, etc. I’m sure you could think of plenty more examples, so go ahead. Leave them in a comment, if you feel so inclined.
Restaurants & Prepared Foods Excluded. Social isolation? Yes, ummm, but I’m not saying please.
Once a connection has been made, one does not have to continue to track down the head hancho to validate a purchase. Retail is an option! However, the retail business must be locally owned and share similar philosophies. Large corporations without a tangible connection to the community are disqualified. Don’t think me prejudice, but WholeFoods is off limits! Time to do more than just fluff your feel good feathers…like grow a pair! Or some :)
Victory: Will be achieved when we access the nutritional, economic, and social impact of eating and drinking outside the grasp of our modern food system for 100 days (!!!!!)
P.S. These guidelines became official on August 31, 2010, which means I started the 100 days over on August 31, 2010. Sorry, I’ve been such a lazy bastard! Really, I’m just drained from the lack of caffeine, carbohydrates, sodium (any sea salt foragers out there?! Holler!!) and variety in my diet, but I promise to post more regularly!