real food

the most interesting thing about the ‘garden’ i described in the last post has been observing the amount of compost we make. we are like one family composting machine, emptying the little caddy kindly donated by clare every few days. when the first flies appeared in the main composting bin in the garden, and the whole thing started to stink a bit, i was pretty pleased.

it is amazing how much waste it generates. apart from the obvious benefit of hopefully being able to use it next year, i also feel inordinately smug that we recycle so much, one way or another.

and - i am not a yoghurt-weaver but there is some satisfaction to be had from not giving money to companies like nestle or kelloggs which peddle all the packaged rubbish purported to be healthy. take cereal bars, a particular hobby horse of mine: it is only advertising and nothing else that has fooled millions of people into believing these are ‘healthy’. it ain’t gonna change any time soon – there is too much money to be made out of processing stuff. conversely, there is little you can do to profit from a carrot, or a strawberry (not to mention a turnip or a kohl rabi). a celebrity endorsement here or a cookery book there but it’s still not special k, is it?

it is funny that we in the west eat so much packaged food. it freaks me out a bit. michael pollan has written about this before, taking as his dictum that you should eat nothing your grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food. when i think back of what was eaten at my dad’s farm when we were little, very little seemed to come from the shop. come to think of it, i have no idea where the shop was.

perhaps i have rose-tinted spectacles about the whole thing - and i suspect my aunt, whose job it was to feed everyone, wouldn’t have objected to a bit of supermarket help. but you can’t help regretting the demise of ‘real’ food.

i remember bread – huge round ciabatta-style loaves made in a wood-burning stove every two days, with slices so big they didn’t fit into a child’s hand; cheese and ‘kajmak’ in glass jam jars (like clotted cream but sometimes salted to last longer) from their own milk; eggs from the chickens that ran around the garden and that we children would fight to feed corn and seeds every evening; honey from their own bees...not to mention the meat from the sheep, pigs and cows. (actually, that’s a lie – i don’t remember cows being eaten. i can see no reason why they wouldn’t have been but i just don’t.)

mum says everything has changed now, which she illustrates, with horror and dramatic emphasis, with the fact that they buy in ‘yellow’ cheese from a supermarket. the thought of that is pretty weird, i must confess. from a wood-burning stove, pigs killed with a knife under a walnut tree and hens running around the flower beds to plastic cheese and obesity – all in the course of one generation.

i guess i feel i am doing my own little bit by composting - though on an admittedly tiny scale.


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