September 9, 2010
After Eat Real Fest weekend, I was in dire need of a vacation. A full time job, a start-up company, a huge festival, a working urban farm and harvest season had really started to pile up on me. My garage was full of leftover un-packed inventory and tomatoes were thick and red on the vine but no matter; my honey and I hopped on a plane two days later to visit my family in Kansas City.
I travel frequently for my “day job” so I’m no longer shocked by the terrible airport food. I set my sights on the barbeque we were about to enjoy in Kansas City and put on blinders to the terrible food options we encountered along the way. Kansas City does one thing incredibly well and that’s meat. If what you’re craving is fresh buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomatoes with basil, you’re in the wrong place. However, if you want a huge plate of gooey, drippy baby back ribs and a tub of pork-fat-enriched pot beans, then hallelujah! and pass the butter.
Our first request to the friend we stayed with was barbeque and we wallowed in its perfection. I’m sure my boy was quite proud of my restraint when I didn’t ask about how humanely the animals were raised and what farm they came from- sometimes you just don’t want to know the answer. I learned long ago that what might be a perfectly legitimate question in the Bay Area might not be seen the same way in other parts of the country. I used my mouth for eating instead of asking. It was divine.
Nature's wrapper clearly wasn't good enough
A couple of days later, though, I did have trouble exercising restraint in the grocery section of Target (of all places to have a grocery section!). I’m not going to blame this on the Midwest because I’ve seen Trader Joe’s commit the same crime here in California but the photo op was too good to pass up. I tried to sneak this photo in without my friend catching me but she busted me.
Nearly everything in the grocery section was wrapped in plastic. The most striking to me were the onions and garlic, vegetables that come in their own wrapper, created to protect both us and the veg. I just don’t understand it. In the photo you can see the tomatoes there too, in a plastic clamshell. Boo!
I must admit that I don’t know much about the standards grocery stores must hold themselves to for cleanliness, but there’s a piece of me that suspects this trend is fueled by the consumer. Are we really so afraid of germs that everything has to come to us hermetically sealed? Or, is it that we perceive things to be a higher value when they’re individually wrapped, making us more likely to pay that higher price for organic?
I find beauty in the farm stands that pile their veggies high on a table with no wrapper but the one in which it was ‘born’. But, as people have pointed out throughout my life, my feelings probably aren’t representative of those of my countrymen.
The icing on the cake was when we were checking out and my friend told the checkout lady that she needn’t put a certain large item in a bag, that we could carry it out. The lady had already placed it in the plastic bag so she pulled it out, handed it to my friend then crumpled the bag up and tossed it to the side, presumably for garbage. Agh. I think she might have missed the point.
The sad Target experience and even the heavenly barbeque were both overshadowed by something else in the trip. My friend’s husband roasted fresh coffee beans for us each day that we were there! What a treat! With all the things I prepare from scratch at home, I had never even thought about roasting my own coffee beans. We have a local coffee shop called Zocalo that roasts once a week so it was something that wasn’t really lacking from my life. But after tasting my friend’s beans, I’m afraid we’re going to have to try it.
I’m so tickled by the thought of it that I don’t want to attach the how-to to the bottom of this post. It definitely deserves its own spot on my site so stay tuned for full instructions and photos!