Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Meandering Rant or The Tips of My Icebergs


Those who know me have heard my mini rants, when I climb up on my soapbox and give speeches, tiny tirades. My kids know when to duck, turn up their I-Pods, roll their eyes, walk away. Chris calls me a zealot, a food Nazi, an ascetic. It’s easy to tune me out. You can stop reading. I’ll write on. When my children were little one didn’t dare mention the educational system to me. I’d go on about kids who were put in day care at age two in order to get in the right private school at age five so they could get into an exclusive high school so they could go to an elite college so they could . . . I don’t know what, be more accomplished, richer, happier than their parents? Interesting formula. Then I’d be asked about home schooling. What's magical about age five to hand my child over to the government, I'd say. What about socialization? they'd ask. Is institutionalization equated with socialization? I’d ask in return. Should an energetic six-year-old forced to sit still at a desk for hours on end be diagnosed as hyperactively disordered and put on medication? I‘d be off and running. Just the tip of the iceberg.

Have you read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan? He’s a thoughtful and amazing writer. As a result of this read, my rant about the algae bloom in the Gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey due to the ever-increasing growth of corn and use of chemicals and pesticides that devastates want once was farmland in this country, is always on the tip of my tongue.

Before reading Michael Pollan, how would I have known that cows are not designed to be fed corn. In “Grass-Fed or Grain?” Marion Burrows refers to other-than-grass-feeding of cows as “conventional”. Conventional? How exactly do we define convention? If barbaric behavior becomes normalized, how long must it teeter on the edge of conventional before becoming acceptable?

I remember standing in the grocery store with Julia staring at the beef display weeping. Someone at home wanted us to get steaks. I asked the butcher if there was any non-antibiotic-laden, grass-fed, organic beef. “Not here, Ma’am.” Julia dialed home, “Sorry, no can do about those steaks. Ma’s crying.”

Of course, Julia knows the scene well. She was the one weeping on Thanksgiving Eve a few years back when I got hit with a bout of nostalgia and loss and wanted to recreate my childhood with a “traditional” Thanksgiving dinner. I dumped a turkey in the cart. Julia pushed her finger into the thick plastic that encased the turkey, watching pinkish blood ooze about. She cried. So much for the return to my youth. Her childhood tradition would prevail. Off to the Indian restaurant again for us.

Jerzy hates it when I read the ingredients on stuff she eats -“Don’t say a word. No comments. I don’t want to hear it.” For a while she’d say, “High fructose corn syrup. Oh the horror!”, then defiantly gulp with gusto. I'm convinced that Kristara brings CoolWhip into the house just to gall me. While watching the movie Super Size Me, Jerzy craved McDonald’s snacks. Something tells me my technique of persuasion is somewhat lacking.

And now my problem is pigs. When Jerzy was little and wanted a hot dog I'd be sure to point out that it was made of dead pigs, adding the notion of snouts and tails. But my concern was nitrites, not the abuse that the pigs suffered when alive. I didn't give much thought to the plight of pigs until reading an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times, March 14, 2007 Pig Out, by Nicolette Hahn Niman, about the horrendous, extraordinarily barbaric ways in which pigs are raised in large “farms” in this country, packed in "like cattle", standing in their own excrement. The "other white meat" indeed.

Grrrrr. Mini tirades. The tips of my icebergs.

And speaking of icebergs, how much longer will they exist?

1 comment:

Mimi (MAgS) said...

Hi Judith - I'm finally connected to the internet again. I didn't realize how much I'd miss it when my computer crashed a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, I just visited your blog for the first time. Nice work! I can certainly relate to your "tip of the iceberg" stories. I have a few of my own, like the time my son started grade school, in 1985 and after just 2 weeks his first grade teacher told me I should put him on ritalin so that he could get in line with the other kids at lunch time for their daily meds. She told me she just did not have the time. He didn't have ADD and he was not hyper-active - more like bored with her class. I was outraged that this "teacher" would "diagnose" my child whom she hardly knew. Needless to say, I did not listen to her advice. My son is 27 now, he has come pretty far, has a good job and he owns his own home. He is recognized for his natural leadership ability and especially, for his creative mind. No drugs, thank God.