Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I think about food a lot too

Anglachel has been writing again. She thinks about food a lot. Us poor folks, and those who grew up poor, think about food a lot.

It can become almost an obsessive thought. When we are broke, like we have been this summer, I think about fruit. I've had exactly one nectarine, my favorite fruit, all summer. When money is tight, fruit is the first thing to go from the shopping list. It's a snack, it doesn't have enough calories to count as a meal. We should be eating5 fruits a day. We can't afford to eat 5 fruits a week.

I think about the virtuous foodies, people with the luxury of buying all organic, or who have the money to live on a raw food diet and still get enough calories that they don't spend all day in the hunger fog.I think about the Kid's wheat allergies, and I feel mountains of guilt because I can't afford to be as careful about gluten free products as I should be. Frozen pizzas are cheap, sandwiches are cheap. Make them gluten free however, and a 2 dollar pizza is now 8 bucks and half the size. I think how nice it would be to load up a pantry full of rice noodles and gluten free bread and all manner of fresh fruit so that the bottomless pit of teenage hunger known as the Kid doesn't have to feel bad about what he's putting in his mouth. I know that for him, every bite of whole wheat bread will shorten his life as surely as if I handed him a pack of smokes and told him to light up.But I have to feed him something now.

I think about how food stamps don't actually help us be healthy, just less hungry. The allotment is supposed to be for an emergency diet, just enough to get you through. All us poor people live on food stamp rations, like people in WWII, with the best and healthiest food going to those more virtuous than us, those with money. I think about how those virtuous foodies look down on those of us who can't afford organic milk for our kids, like we are some kind of child abusers because quieting rumbling bellies is a more urgent need than tracking the provenance of our produce.

I dream about out of reach foods, bloody red rib eyes, giant salads with fancy cheese, the perfect black berries, grape tomatoes so ripe you can eat them like candy. I wish that the Kid didn't worry so much about food. He has the poor kid habit of scarfing as much as he can of whatever he can in secret, like being hungry is a shameful flaw instead of a biological fact.

But I even if I tell him to slow down, not to worry so much, that it will be okay, I know that he know the truth. Having enough to eat is not a given, not even in this country of overabundance. A full fridge is as much of a fantasy to me as owning a private jet.

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