Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Big Lie

It has been an enormously, ridiculously, embarrassingly long time since I have updated this blog, so let me catch you up to speed.  Our 100 mile dining experiment has been chugging along without a hitch - mostly.  Once we perfected our meals, there was not much to do but prepare them on high rotation ad nauseum, which made this diet quite easy, if boring.  “What would you like for breakfast, Dear, eggs, a smoothie, or rice?”  (We have prepared the rice like oatmeal with honey, milk, pecans, and dried fruit.)  The breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner choices have rarely changed in six weeks.  If you’ve ever wondered how much sweet potato souffle a person can eat, I’ll tell you that I tired of it after about four weeks.  Right now, I don’t care if I ever see another sweet potato again.

I will also tell you that there is nothing quite like the surprise of a new food choice on Saturday morning.  Most recently, one of our favorite farmers greeted us with this news, “I’ve got asparagus for you this week.”  Asparagus!  How wonderful!  I wouldn’t care if she had some local prunes.  Something different, anything different, is a delight.  But I actually like asparagus, so all the better.  Unlike my lifetime of grocery store experiences, which have occurred under harsh florescent lights and are marked by anonymous exchanges of plastic cards for unlimited “foods” wrapped in plastic bags, trips to the farmers markets each week are rewarding because of both the familiar faces and the unexpected surprises you are sure to find.  Our favorite market at Atherton Mills opens its large roll up doors in nice weather and welcomes dogs too.  There is even a vendor who makes local dog biscuits and dog care products.  Some of our most recent finds have included fresh apples (instead of dried apple rings) from Waxhaw, broccoli and asparagus from Unionville. and even some tulsi tea from Monroe - each more pleasing than the next.
While I would like to report to you that we have remained pure and true to our diet, I must confess that we did make one addition at the half way point - salt.  Now I’m not going to say that if I didn’t give in to her salt craving Joselle would have given me the boot, but she did really want some salt.  Further, she made a convincing argument that sodium is an important mineral and electrolyte, and that we were not getting enough of it. Though I believe we were not in imminent danger, there is a condition called hyponatremia, to which we might have been susceptible.  It’s hard to know, because it is impossible to find much information on hyponatremia as a result of limited salt in one’s diet.  Western diets present the opposite problem, so most cases of hyponatremia are connected to another diagnosis, like cirrhosis or congestive heart failure.  There were a couple of other factors that weighed into our decision.  In answer to our question about whether a 100 mile diet is possible in Charlotte, NC in the long-term, a resounding yes, but with the caveat that salt would have to be added and food would need to be stored to offer year-long variety.  So adding salt made our diet more realistic.  Finally, we got our hands on some greenhouse tomatoes from time to time, and what a difference a few shakes of salt made!

So about that big lie...  In late February, Joselle found some local pico de gallo at the farmers market.  The pico was actually the result of a lengthy conversation with the proprietor of a particular stand, during which they eliminated many of his other offerings.  But he assured her that his pico had no salt, sugar, or vinegar, and that the veggies were locally sourced, most from that very market.  By itself, the pico de gallo was not much to write home about, but it was a magnificent addition to our scrambled eggs.  Though we have enjoyed this combination for weeks, it has bothered me that this vendor does not list the ingredients on his containers.  (Isn’t that a no-no?)  This Saturday, to satisfy me, Joselle asked him again what was in the pico.  This time he recognized us but did not recall our quirky diet, so he told us about the lime juice.  Lime juice!!!  <Insert many, many expletives here.>  When he realized his error, he actually attempted to make light of the situation, making a joke about the local limes.  In addition to the blatant dishonesty, he denied us basic information about what we were putting in our own bodies.  Though the traditional industrial food system omits information regularly (think GMOs), we expected better of our neighbor.  Lesson: A huge limitation of our experiment is that we are relying on information from others, which, intentionally or not, is not always accurate.
“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.” Abraham Lincoln

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