What kind of compromises are you prepared to make? Almost no one goes into a major change in their life or their diet thinking of the need for compromise. The very human tendency is to believe that you can “be the change” 100% right off the bat, or at least soon thereafter. At that point no further compromise is necessary … you’ve made it, you’ve arrived. But change is really a journey and not a destination. You never arrive, not completely. There is just variation in the degree of the completeness of your arrival.
On this website I talk a lot about Granny. I generalize Granny did this or would have done that often. But I don’t know your Granny, or your best-friends Granny or even my husband’s Granny! How the hell do I know what she would or wouldn’t have done? My Grandma was born in the early 1900′s but your Grandma might have been born in the 50′s. My husband’s Grandma was born in Germany but maybe your’s was born in India or Russia … how can we learn anything by generalizing what these totally different women might have done?
I think we can learn a lot, actually. While our Grannys were very different women they do have an awful lot in common. For instance, they were born before the post-modern media dominated environment we live in now. Culture was passed down from generation to generation so the traditional foodways of whatever culture she lived in were what she learned and lived by. Now, not so much. Media and advertising shout so loudly now they drown out traditional cultures the world over. They shout down your Grandma’s foodways in favor of foods that can be branded to seem cool and novel. And these foods are always highly processed with big profit margins for the producers.
Anyway on this site, Granny is more a way of thinking about the world than an actual person.
Granny is a State of Mind
When I talk about Granny what I’m searching for is a way of looking at the world thru your Grandma’s eyes. If we can at least try to see things as we imagine she would it gives us a new perspective on the world. Suddenly things that made sense looking thru our modern eyes seem silly. Things like thinking the foods that have sustained humanity for thousands of years are suddenly very, very bad for us! Things like thinking if we are good and eat as the doctors/specialists tell us and exercise very, very hard we will look and feel young well into old age, maybe right up till the day we die! Or maybe with transhumanism we needn’t die at all. While eating well and exercising moderately are likely to make your old-age a lot more comfortable and maybe even fun it’s unlikely to bring immortality 😉 .
Just as an exercise in broadening your thinking about food, whenever you have a food choice to make pause for a moment and ask yourself “What would Granny do?” or WWGD, for short 😉 . Often the choice is clear like, Granny probably wouldn’t have spent extra money for processed potato flakes when whole potatoes are cheaper and more versatile. If your particular Granny would have jumped for the flakes, and if she was born in the 50′s she probably would :-), adopt an older Granny instead. This little practice makes the choices so much clearer.
Granny Embodies the Wisdom of your Culture
No matter your culture and where you live in the world Granny embodies the wisdom of the foodways of your particular culture. Grab onto that culture and hang on for dear life in the face of the avalanche of false and misleading information about food coming out of the industrial food economy. Your life and your families lives depend on it!
Eating real food doesn’t mean adopting a whole new cultures way of eating. It doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite comfort foods from childhood in favor of some exotic food served in a culture unknown to you. If you live in India explore the traditional foodways of India rather than feeling pressed to accept the real food recipes produced in a culture like say, Germany. You’ll find the food rather bland most likely, though it would be healthy. Or if you grew up in a dairy culture, it’s unlikely that you’ll love and do well on a diet of legumes and rice. Too often people feel compelled when adopting a new way of eating to exactly emulate someone else’s or some other culture’s diet! Far better to thoughtfully consider the foods you love and depend on and adapt them back into the real food versions your Grandma knew and loved.
Technology and the Bias Toward the New
Modern culture has an inbuilt bias toward the new. Old ways are suspect and the new is embraced. It seems the knee-jerk response of modern folk is to dismiss anything that comes from an old source. In modern culture old ideas are automatically bad ideas, discredited ideas. This attitude is deeply ingrained in modern people, but how wise is it?
Now obviously, I’m no luddite :-). I’m writing this on a Macbook Pro and sending it out into the world via the internet. I’ve worked as a programmer all of my adult life. Technology is a wondrous thing, to be sure. In my lifetime I’m unlikely to ever witness a miracle greater than the internet as far as I’m concerned!
Technology doesn’t have the answers to everything though, especially where biology is concerned. There is so much we still don’t know about the human body. Using historical proof in the form of thriving populations down thru history seems like a far more robust scientific test of a diet than the very limited kinds of testing we do now. Traditional foodways and the lessons about food handed down to your Granny are the distilled wisdom from that very large experiment.
My Grandma wasn’t a zen master. My memories of her though are of a strong will, a peaceful presence and a cheerful attitude. She was wonderful and totally unique. Like many of her generation she had been thru some hard times and had many sorrows. Yet she remained cheerful and unfailingly considerate and polite. I don’t think she thought much about goals or future plans. She simply enjoyed the day for what it was. Like the popular song, her attitude was que sera sera, whatever will be, will be. She had never heard of the zen proverb of chop wood carry water but that is essentially what she did every day of her life. And she was all the happier for it!
So, maybe she didn’t know it, but she was. Was Grandma well off? Well, no, no more well off than most. And in many cases she was poorer than most, especially as she got older. Still she kept on making home cooked meals with the freshest meat and produce she could lay her hands on. And she did it frugally even if she wasn’t on a tight budget, just as a matter of principle. Yet our culture tends to think of foodies as an elite group of people with the time and money to dedicate to culinary extravagance. Does this sound like Grandma? If your Grandma was anything like mine she would be shocked at the suggestion! Then she would laugh until she cried at the mere thought :-).
Do you live in an apartment? Do you have an old house with a little, old, dingy kitchen? Is all the kitchen equipment you have handed down from you mother-in-law? Is it too crowded? or is it devoid of tools, even a can opener? Do you dream of a beautiful, well-lit, well-equipped kitchen? If the decorating magazines are any indication, most of us do, myself included.
Still, most of the cooking done in the world happens in little, cramped, dimly-lit kitchens with simple tools. Meals get made, things get done anyway.
Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.
G. K. Chesterton
I wasn’t always a cook. Heck, many would argue that I’m not a cook now ;-). Still I cook pretty much everyday and have for about a decade now. So am I good candidate for the next cooking reality show? Hardly. Instead I find that I have become a “Good Enough Cook”. Like my mother, and her mother before her, and her mother before her. [Read more…]