Archive for natural food

A Natural Naysayer

Posted in Food, Glorious Food with tags , , , on October 3, 2009 by davegerry


I walked into that omnipotent coffee emporium yesterday. It’s become a daily ritual for many of you, I know,  but I have steadfastly avoided the place over all these years.  It’s too damn cultish for me. I’d rather give my business to something a little less corporate. But yesterday I was being treated to a coffee and so I went along for the ride.

The first thing that happened was that the young woman behind the counter handed me a tiny pleated paper cup (like the kind the dentist gives you full of fluoride rinse) brimming with their new organic instant coffee. No chemicals used in this stuff, she said.

The mere mention of  ‘organic‘  triggers a negative reaction in me now. I feel the same way about organic as I do about any business the size of this coffee company. I simply don’t trust it. I truly believe that the organic movement will prove to be one of the great boondoggles of the 21st century. I might not live to see it (my body, no doubt, racked with all manner of chemically-induced disease) but I think thirty years from now saner heads will look back at this time and say, ‘Remember all that organic hooey? What the hell were we thinking? ‘.

It’s like that scene from Woody Allen’s movie Sleeper where he awakens after being comatose for decades only to have the doctors offer him a cigarette and say ,’It’s tobacco. It’s one of the healthiest things for your body’.

It would be fine if we all lived in an organic bubble. If we breathed organic air and drank organic water and sat on organic car seats. But we function within a world that’s been organically corrupted and we are inextricably part of that fabric. I don’t believe throwing back a handful of organic M&M’s is going to help me at this stage.

In fact, I think the chemicals are sometimes the only thing keeping me going. I think they’ve linked to my dna and have laminated my immune system. If I could magically become a 100% organic creature overnight, I think I’d be susceptible to every half-ass malady that came down the line. Nobody wants to die of an ingrown toenail.

While I applaud the sentiment of living a cleaner life and ridding the planet of destructive elements, the organic culture, itself, has been compromised. It is costly. It is manipulative. I think it now relies on a kind of subterranean hysteria. I believe it’s basically a placebo. If filling my basket with organics gives me holistic peace of mind, it has already done about as much good as it can. And that’s fine. Proponents can pay the price. I just don’t think the data will be there on your deathbed.

By the way the new instant coffee tasted fine. I’m no connoisseur but I have chugged a mug of kopi luwak….the rare brew that’s been shat from an Indonesian civet cat.

That, folks, is organic.


Wild Thing

Posted in Food, Glorious Food with tags , , , on September 26, 2009 by davegerry

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I cannot drive by a clump of cattails without thinking of my father. Long before Les Stroud ( Survivorman) and Bear Grylls (Man vs. Wild) were biting the heads off frogs, my father was out there chowing down on all manner of wild edibles. Where did he get this seemingly insatiable appetite for off-road cuisine?

My dad had the first edition of the landmark foraging guide ‘Stalking the Wild Asparagus‘ by Euell Gibbons. The book is tattered and worn and more than forty years old now but it has a proud place on my bookshelf.

It was Euell Gibbons who said that the cattail was the ‘supermarket of the swamp’. You can eat just about every part of a cattail, depending on the season..from the roots to the tip.

Armed with the Gibbons guide my father and I would continually prowl the backcountry roads of Southwestern Ontario looking for mushrooms, hickory nuts, wild honey and, of course, asparagus. One day we happened upon a bountiful cache of elderberries, which were quickly harvested for use that night in a homemade pie. Believe me when I say that you have not lived until you have eaten a piece of wild elderberry pie with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream.

My father was a foodie almost from the start but because my mother had died at a relatively young age there was no one around to put the brakes on some of his more unique culinary techniques.

For example, he would occasionally rinse several hundred pickling cucumbers in the bathtub. He would make his own beef jerky by draping long strips of marinated flank steak over curtain rods in the kitchen. If he needed a spot to store a big Virginia ham, he’d hang it in the front clothes closet. I’d take a jacket out of there and dogs would follow me for blocks.

My father also crafted his own sauerkraut, spiced beef and chili sauce. All of which made for a very aromatic upbringing.

One morning I was jolted out of bed by the sound of someone pounding on the door, only to discover that my dad was trying to knead some bread in the clothes dryer.

Sure, he was eccentric but he knew an awful lot about good food.

There’s a famous story in the Gerry family about the unexpected side effects of eating wild.

One evening Angie and I dined at my father’s home. Part of the meal was a stir fry of wild day lily pods which he had collected from a field that morning. They tasted fine but later, as the two of us sat enjoying a movie in a downtown theatre, the day lilies returned with a vengeance. It turned out we were sitting on more gas than Kuwait.

I don’t remember much about that film but as we bolted from the theatre and headed toward the parking lot we both lifted off like a scene from The Rocketeer.

There is a world of wild food right outside your door. Remember, graze responsibly and please..stand downwind.