Sunday, October 31, 2010

Here is Something Truly Frightening - The Elitist Grows Stronger

I am worried. I’m becoming even more of a snob - almost to the point of being militant. And it’s about food.

I love eating, cooking, and growing my own food, and it’s all done with pride. It has resulted with changes in how I shop and spend my restaurant dollars. But I am noticing a change in myself and I am trying to find the root of it.

I think I am turning into Alice Waters.

Part of it is because of my immersion into the gardening community here in Austin and on the Internet. Twitter and Master Gardeners have put me in contact with people that I don’t interact with via the job or neighborhood. I have been able to meet individuals with specific agendas about food preparation, sustainability, farming, food independence and a return to “slow food.” I have been bombarded with messages from films such as Food Inc, An Inconvenient Truth, and articles/books from Michael Pollan and Alice Waters. It reminds me of the transformation I went through in my coming of age discovery of the environmental movement in the 1970’s. Then I was a raw teenager beginning to explore the world outside of my isolation in rural Oregon. I guess it’s only fitting that in my 50’s I am exploring quality of life since I can now see mortality and appreciate how fragile everything is.

Which brings me to salad dressing.

My garden has provided us with some incredible meals. One day this summer I was preparing a killer salad and reached inside the fridge for the salad dressing. As I twisted the lid off a huge wave of indignation overtook me. What? Store-bought dressing on this magnificent plate of greens!?!!?!?!?!? Not only that, but what assortment of chemicals will be polluting my bug-battled organic produce?!?!?!?!? Is this yet ANOTHER evil plot by Monsanto? I sat the bottle down, and with a frenzy not even Julia Child could muster, I made my own dressing (red wine vinegar, olive oil, garlic, herbs, chopped pepper.)

The following Saturday I was at the farmers market and bought some local Texas olive oil. On my way home I stopped at Whole Foods and bought every variety of vinegar they had so I can expand my dressing repertoire. I spent an hour on the intranet looking up recipes. I find myself preaching to others that should reject store-bought dressing and make their own. I find myself growing smugger by the minute.

Its just salad dressing.

I think it’s great that Alice Waters and I can be smug. However, I don’t know that it really solves anything. I think it is one thing to enjoy handcrafting something but quite another to criticize others for choosing mass-produced goods. I think it’s better to serve as a good example than as a foaming, holy-than-thou fanatic.

So I take a deep breath. I go out to the yard and pick my produce, package it up and take it to work. I take some of my salad dressing too. Already I have shared the recipe and have inspired others to grow their own food.

Now, isn’t that better?