True story: I was once standing in line with a friend at a Whole Foods Market in the San Fernando Valley as we waited to check out. Feeling slightly outrageous, I said to my friend, “Well, shoot. I’m all for preservatives in foods. That’s what’s keeping this old body alive!” There were some chuckles here and there.

If you’ve gone to a Whole Foods Market, home of thoroughbred produce and needless mark-ups, you’ve probably wondered if the claims to better living minus chemistry are really reliable. Is a banana that is sans vermin spray somehow superior to a good old Dole fresh off the boat from a shaky South American republic? I rather like the feeling that as I peel a banana it has not spent a major part of its life crawling with bugs. That’s just me, but it’s not even close to our organics-only friends.

No aspersions here — Kris is as cool as they come and drop-dead marvelous — but she does lean in the direction of the “proper” foods. On the other hand, until a couple of years ago when I packed up Kermit and made the voyage to Orange County, I was a no-holds-barred addict to the frozen food section of Ralphs market. For me, lasagna in a plastic container coming out of the microwave made total sense, both nutritionally and as a matter of practicality.

Different story now.

Here within the newly gated house, such madness is frowned upon. We do, indeed, shop at Whole Foods Market, but we also find the “better items” at your garden variety supermarkets.

A prime example: two-percent milk, originally recommended decades ago by my kids’ pediatrician as the follow-up for formula.

I kinda liked it as well — the two-percent milk — and have stuck with it over the years. But now…well, it has to be provided by well-educated cows who are given no hormones, drugs, or fancey-schmancey grains, and who, I’m led to believe, frolic free in the greener pastures on the other side of the fence. The bottler then adds vitamins A and D, as well as DHA Omega-3 (You don’t know what that is? Neither do I.), credited with supporting “a healthy brain.” Presumably, with enough of this tasty brew you will become enlightened to the point where you’re convinced you made the right choice. Two years later and I’m no more enlightened than I ever was. 

But that’s the way it goes: they take out the stuff that used to make food taste good, and replace it with oddities that Dr. Who-knows-what says will enable you to run the four-minute-mile when you’re 87. I think their heart’s in the right place, but every time you turn around, the cocktail of supplements and additives changes, with a new advocate and new claims of miracles.

I mean, I’ll do it. Still, you go into Mother’s market (Yep, there really is such a place.) where the clientele looks like a bunch of aging and lost hippies, and the shelves are bursting with a healthier mac-and-cheese. Or tasteless corn chips. Or miniature produce. Mercy. It all seems to be part of a brave new world that suddenly turned wimpy.

Still, that’s the way it is. So now, instead of looking for convenience we look for the latest trend, and this definitely is one. It’s as though there are points to be scored by claiming the healthiest diet.

Then again, my grandmother on my dad’s side lived to 100 years, six months, with some credit going, apparently, to taking fresh veggies out of her own impressive garden.

Decidedly organic, with not a pesticide in sight.

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