Good Food, Bad Food


by Leah Peterson
© 2004 Leah Peterson
All Rights Reserved
Originally published on Writer’s Monthly

Words overheard at Brian’s Restaurant: A couple in the booth next to us deciding what to order:

“The stuff on this menu is great! It looks like really good-for-you food!”

“Remember that one restaurant when we were in–”

“Ya, in LA?”

“Ya. Everything we wanted to eat they didn’t have.”

“Oh, I know. Why do they even have a menu then?”

“The menu was like, a list of things they wished they had.”

“Oh. Look at your shirt, honey. That’s sad. It’s like a little map of what you’ve eaten today.”

“I told you I was in no shape to go out tonight.”

“I see coffee from this morning. There is the salad dressing from lunch. Is that spot from the yellow pudding in the fridge? No you didn’t! That was for tomorrow night!”

I was feeling sheepish and it wasn’t even my shirt. And hearing those two talk made me impulsively check the front of my clothing for telltale signs of food I had eaten that day.

Thankfully, I passed inspection.

I’ve been known to walk around with glaring marks on my clothing and not know it. I’ve lost sleep worrying about it.

My children will sometimes point out that the chocolate donut I ate two hours ago is not only still with me in my thighs, but also visibly on my jacket. My eleven-year old actually used the phrase, ‘cant take you anywhere’ with a sigh and a laugh.

I’ve always been a bit sloppy with food. It might come from the fact that food and I have a love/hate relationship. I tend to not want to take the time to try and fix really great food anymore. My experience with that is that putting in 7 hours for a gourmet meal will ultimately make everyone sad when I pull the quiche out of the oven and display a hard, shriveled hunk of something no one wants to look at let alone eat.

My boyfriend and I have started to use the crockpot. Supposedly, you just plop the food in first thing in the morning, turn it on, come back 8 hours later and eat a grand feast. But, do I want to use beef? Oh no. I might get Mad Cow disease. What about chicken? You don’t even have to add water or fluid when crockpotting a chicken. It contains enough hormones, fillers and general fake juice plumper-uppers that it will be delectably tenderized in its own killer-juices by the time it’s done. And eggs? Please. Unless they are free-range, grain fed chickens that laid those eggs, your just getting the same thing as with the grown up variety but in a smaller and more potent concentrated amount.

I won’t even get into the controversy about ground beef.

When you buy organic fruits and vegetables at three times the cost, you’re paying for the extra coating of real manure they use to grow them in as well as the little bugs that live in a pesticide-free environment. However, I’d still pick that any day over the 372 different kinds of bug killing treatments they use to grow our regular foods.

So, in the grocery store, you may find yourself face to face with the apple section and think that an apple a day will keep the doctor away. I see the same apple display and wonder how many different pairs of worker hands have touched that one piece of fruit and if the new produce soap I bought will really take their germs off. What if a tainted Asian chicken sat by it and gave it the Asian Flu? What if some kid sneezed on it? Or licked it and then put it back in the mix? Can I get that off?

I want to eat good-for-me food. I really do. But when you buy Twinkies, you know those suckers won’t go bad on you in two days and that they are so chemically perfect and sterile in their little plastic homes that you won’t get sick when you eat them. At least not right away.

And that, my friends, helps me sleep better at night.

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