Sunday, February 19, 2012

In search of Real Food

I spent a few days last week with my daughter and my 3-year old grandson in Iowa, the heart of the corn industry in this country, the place where you can drive for a hundred miles in the summer and not see anything but the two rows of corn on either side of you, so tall that the plants block out any view you might have of the flat terrain.  The irony in this situation is that they live in the middle of one of the most plentiful food production locations in the whole country and my grandson can't eat any of it.  Not a bite. Why?  Because he suffers from food allergies to nearly every common allergen - corn, wheat, gluten, dairy, preservatives, you name it.  He was first diagnosed because he quit growing, moving from the 95th percentile in height and weight to the 10th percentile in just a couple months, and began displaying a variety of splotchy rashes all over him as well as a mouthful of disintegrating teeth.  The food he was eating was no longer nourishing him, it was quite literally starving him.  Organic, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, hormone-free, additive-free food he can eat is available - at 2 stores in the whole of Iowa City - at the cost of a mortgage payment each month, difficult at best for two graduate students trying to live on a stipend. The high cost is due to the fact that there are no organic foods growing there in the middle of GMO land, all of it has to be shipped in from distant locales.

I told her they need to go cruising.

Vegetable market on Jane StreetOne of the greatest advantages to going cruising, especially on a tight budget as we will be, is that you tend to cook a lot and eat out very little.  This is the first step to eating Real Food.  Another advantage is that you tend to buy local, using the farmer's markets and fruit stands that are accessible to the boat via foot or bicycle.  Eating organic foods is a lot easier when you can buy them at less than a month's wages at a local market.

Maybe one of the most overlooked advantages is that you tend to carefully watch portions, since refrigeration space is limited and not very reliable and the idea of throwing good food away just doesn't fit in a cruising budget.

On the drive back home from Iowa City to Saint Louis I was passing the time listening to NPR.  They had an interesting interview about the idea of regulating sugar in this country (something that will never happen) and the doctor they were interviewing made the statement, "Eat . Real . Food" as part of his attempt to persuade people to move away from the highly processed foods that are wrecking our livers.  After spending the week trying to find food to cook for my grandson and listening to stories from other friends of my children who are dealing with the same food allergies in their children, this story served only to emphasize  our need to move toward a more healthful and whole way of living.  What better way to do it than to go cruising.

See you out there...

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