Small Town Simple

The Simplicity Adventures of a Mother and Daughter

The Search For Real Food

Small Town Simple

I caught a bit of news the other day regarding parmesan cheese.  The television segment indicated that much of the shredded cheese sold on our stores shelves contains wood pulp.  To hear the reporters talk, we have been chowing down on wood shavings!  While I knew this news article was meant to create some shock along with some knowledge, it did make me wonder.  How did we get so far away from eating real food?

When I was growing up and eating at the tables of my two grandmothers, their spread of food looked very different from those of today.  To start with, we ate at the table, but I won’t go there right now.  One of my grandmother’s breakfasts was eggs, homemade biscuits, sausage and gravy – most of this coming from her cast iron skillet.  I still remember those light, fluffy biscuits, steaming hot on her red Formica kitchen table, just begging for a pat of butter.  And while her breakfast sounds caloric heavy, nobody sat there and overate.  Servings were moderate and busy days followed.  Over in Hico, Grandma fried up catfish caught from an area lake, cooked okra or black-eyed peas grown in her garden and served up a peach pie or cobbler made from the juicy fruit gathered from her backyard tree or picked from an area orchard.  My sister Dianne and I learned just what hard work feels like by helping to pick peaches straight from the tree.  And while there was a fair amount of frying going on – this is Texas, after all! – and some recipes were a little sugar heavy, I noticed that these beautiful family members of mine didn’t sit a lot.  There was always something to work on, something to do that required their attention and energy.  These were very active people!

We know food has shifted, the point being to create convenience in our “busy” lives!  And we’ve bought into it whole heartedly.  Lots of processed food, lots of boxes and plastic jars, lots of  hard to pronounce ingredients.  But I’ve decided to begin a search for real food.  And this isn’t easy in a moderate sized town that is controlled by big box stores!  And I won’t attempt to overhaul my kitchen all at once – that is like a crash diet and doomed to fail.  So I guess I will start with cheese.  I will be reading labels and looking for real cheese vs. the processed product.  Oh, I did a little research on wood pulp in parmesan cheese.  The pulp has been processed into cellulose which helps keep shredded cheese from sticking.  It is also a filler.  So while probably not harmful, as a filler it isn’t really what we are paying for – which is cheese.

As I continue to simplify my life, I will also simplify my table.  Alice Waters, the founder of the slow-food movement said, “Let things taste of what they are.”  I like that.  And I bet she isn’t talking about cellulose!

xo, Carolyn 

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