Crunchy Eggs?

Egg Photo

What has happened to food in America?

After living in Europe for most of the last eight years my return to the states has naturally brought many adjustments in quite a few areas areas, and one of these includes food–or should I say my expectations about food. I live in Santa Fe, a place with quite a good reputation for food and I spend a lot of time in Los Angeles, another area known for many food choices; I am curious about what I will encounter in other parts of the country as the SmartLifeways journey begins-read more about it in About SmartLifeways.

Often when traveling, or even in Santa Fe, going out to eat or just to have coffee or tea can prove to be a frustrating experience. My expectation is seemingly simple: authentic, unpolluted, non-toxic food or drink. I assume that food in its original state is something natural. A substance that miraculously nourishes us and is essential for the ongoing, proper operation of our bodies, like fuel for a car….Yet typical American fare is now far from this, unnatural, loaded with additives (which our bodies do not need, and as we are learning are often quite harmful) and unfortunately produced in a non sustainable way on many levels.

There is a growing movement in the states for clean, sustainable (environmentally and also on a personal level to those who produce it), good food-what is known as the Slow Food Movement. Alice Waters and Michael Pollan have been talking and writing for many years about this necessary transformation in our food supply. Their voices and others are growing louder and bringing change, but oh so slowly.

That Michelle Obama’s White House organic garden could become a controversial issue speaks much about the prevailing attitude towards food in America today. How is it that fumigating fruits and vegetables with toxic chemicals, which damage both our bodies and our precious land, is accepted as the “normal” way to grow food? That to produce what is meant to nourish our very natural bodies is now supposed to contain toxic and chemically produced elements. Would you ever think to load your gas tank with a smoothie or cooked vegetables (although I once heard a story of a truck in the jungle that in an emergency ran on bananas) so why would it make sense to load our natural vehicles, our bodies, with non-natural fuel?

Many years ago I had an organic coffee house/cafe in a rather small town so I know that it is certainly possible to use non-toxic, natural food in such a setting. Today when we can even find this sort of food, quite often no easy task, it usually comes with a very high price – and for what is, or at least should be, quite normal.

I am once again in Los Angeles and on this early sunny morning I was out and hungry for breakfast. Since I am pretty familiar with places that offer at least a token attempt at what I call real food, organic or at least locally produced, I went to a popular cafe in Santa Monica. After scrutinizing the menu for items that fall within this category–it seems the newest marketing trick by many restaurants is to claim that they are using organic or local products, only to discover that this is only for a very limited group of items on the menu–I ordered tea and eggs.

My order came, the tea was awful and this is a place that claims a deep tea collection, but I blamed myself for taking the $3 tea instead of the $6 morning tea selection. The eggs however were another story. I took one bite of my scrambled eggs…which were $5 for just two simple eggs, but since they were supposed to be organic and locally raised I was accepting of the price…and there was a definite, crunch to them. I was surprised and took another bite and yes they had a certain crisp firmness, sort of eggs al dente.

I wondered, what were these egg like looking substances. I immediately thought that perhaps they really aren’t organic since their consistency was almost rubbery. I took them back and asked if they were really organic and was told yes they definitely were. I asked if they could do them again but lightly scrambled this time figuring that then they would have to be soft. No luck, once again an egg with a definite ‘tooth’ to it. Frustrated and hungry I gave up on the eggs looked at the menu once again and decided to stick with my bad tea and a croissant-I never assumed that this would be organic, an unhealthy indulgence.

Sad to think that I can only find food that I trust as clean, and that I like, at home. I looked around and saw that most of the people around me were starting their day with wheat and/or sugar…muffins, cakes, scones (and while this place claims to be organic, the baked goods are made with commercial ingredients the last time that I asked) and of course coffee. I had done the same and I realized that often this seems to be our safest and least expensive option. But with muffins at 3 or 4 each, and coffee as well, such a breakfast is no longer such a bargain and have we really fueled our body with anything worthwhile?

It is time to be more demanding with what we can obtain in restaurants as well as markets so that we can make choices that support a more sustainable system and really nourish this remarkable machine called our bodies…..

Speak out!