Today begins a brand new month filled with vegetable hopes and fruit possibilities. Last night our neighborhood was an orgy of candy, processed food, and kids dressed up like a Snookie (which according to Wikipedia is a zombie woman of ill-repute, who is too stupid to even know she wants brains). As November unfolds, the big-eating holidays are clearly visible on the horizon disguised as festivals of family, hearth and home. They are so close I can almost taste the Pillsbury.
Just this morning I was speaking with a colleague about her upcoming Thanksgiving plans. Her family was insisting on a ‘traditional meal’ which is a hilarious name for a horrendously industrial feast. If you ask the average American what a traditional Thanksgiving meal consists of you will have a standard menu that can be almost entirely factory made, which sadly, is now the tradition. It generally includes white bread rolls, white bread stuffing, mashed and skinned potatoes with cream and margarine, factory grown turkey, gravy made from said franken-turkey and white flour, green bean casserole made entirely from cans of last year’s green beans, can shaped cranberry sauce/jelly, and frozen pies just like great grandma used to make- if she had been a robot using chemical concoctions as ingredients.
I would be a big fat liar-pants if I said that my mouth isn’t watering enough to be a nuisance while I rack my brain for examples of this travesty of a meal. Even framing the dishes in a negative light doesn’t curb my desire to devour. I want the entire menu in vast quantities now and all day long for months to come. I understand the draw of combining the nostalgia for family and the allure of comfort food served in the cool winter months. This traditional factory produced holiday meal is delicious. It was designed by genius chemists that sadly had no input from their nutritionist counterparts.
If you can talk Mister Peabody into giving you a lift in the Way Back Machine, you could hop back in time a decade at a time inspecting the great American holiday feast- be it Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Years Eve or anything in between. You would see decreasing amounts of factory produced food and increasing amounts of the kind of food you would normally find pouring out of a cornucopia. As the decades slipped backwards, genetically enhanced turkey would be replaced by genetically correct animals that were too slow or trusting to get away from the people that were hunting them. The canned vegetable casseroles would be replaced by actual vegetables. The plastic wrapped brown-n-serve rolls would be replaced by bread that was made by hand from grains grown and collected from the nearby fields. The commercial driven and steroid infused football games would be replaced with the horse shoe and checker games that were often fueled with Paw-paw’s liquor, or corn sqeezins’. The word tradition becomes muddled when you look at 400 years of history and try to nail down the definition.
This Thanksgiving will be a traditional one at my family home. However, we will be honoring the traditions from many different eras and perspectives. Our guests wont be forced to eat roasted acorn squash with raisin and cinnamon and I wont be forced to eat canned yams with brown sugar and marshmallows. I don’t wish to keep what I know to be mouth-wateringly good food away from others, I just want to make sure that I have have plenty of Old School Traditional food for myself: locally grown fall harvest bonanza.
Now to answer everyone’s favorite question about the upcoming holidays: No, I will not be eating Tofu-rkey. I will have actual wild turkey that was plucked from its happy life in the wild (if my brother-in-law is the skilled woodsman and hunter that he claims to be AND if he is as easily goaded into giving away turkeys as I hope he is). As I have indicated several times during this blog, my lifestyle is Vegan-ish. The Forks Over Knives documentary references studies that focus on 5% animal protein in a diet, that I think is a good guideline when I am a healthy shape and size. In the mean time I am living a little closer to the edge. I am hardly eating any animal or animal byproducts, but hardly ever is definitely not never. Eating small amounts of carefully selected meat once every 4-6 weeks is the new tradition.