June 19, 2007 by Marj Hatzell
Growing up I honestly did not know (or care to think) about where meat came from. Now, granted, an IQ of 140 apparently doesn’t automatically qualify you for common sense. In fact, I think the higher the IQ, the worse your common sense is. And the worse your fashion sense. Which is why my son and husband are horrible dressers. Anywho, I digress…I never really thought about meat. I ate meat, I loved meat, my mother attempted to prepare meat. It was usually as tough as shoe leather and needed a plethora of condiments covering it to feign flavor. To this day, when I am with my brothers, they automatically put Thousand Island dressing on pork or steak. Of course, these are the same guys who put ketchup on chicken and on cheese fries.
Imagine my surprise at the age of eighteen when I realized (like a 2X4 whacking me in the head) that chicken came from, well, CHICKEN. And pork chops? A pig. Don’t get me started on turkey. Can you imagine? It comes from a turkey? I think I knew where it came from and just never thought about it. I certainly did not dwell on the fact that it was skin, bones, muscle and the like. When the light bulb moment occurred I was working my first job ever, at an import store (the daughter of a Union-Buy-American-Man, no less), and my coworkers caught on to my naivety very quickly. They spared no moment to tease and insult me. Poor, stupid, gullible DG.
That is when I became a vegan. No, seriously! I swore off meat. I started eating organic (difficult to do those days, very few stores sold it) and ate tons of vegetables and grains. This was the easiest thing I ever did, since I pretty much only ate veggies and grains anways. I tried a few veggie products but back then they left much to be desired. I did this for nearly three years until my hair was thinning and my nails were wrecked due to vitamin deficiency. It seems that I forgot a very important component of nutrition, protein. One does not realize the importance of protein until one is very sick from not eating it. For three years I had rashes, skin problems, nail problems, infections and viruses that just wouldn’t leave. When I was sent to a nutritionist I was put in my place. If you want to swear off meat you have to REPLACE THE PROTEIN. You have to at least TRY TO REPLACE SOME DAIRY. I was not doing that. Peanuts and nuts were out (allergy), beans were ignored (EWWW!) and anything soy was unpalatable. I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian at that point, meaning, I ate eggs and dairy. Because eating and drinking cows milk has to be good for you, right?
A few years later Darling and I were
living in sin cohabitating and I slowly starting eating a little chicken here, a few bites of fish there. I was still eating mostly salads, dairy, eggs and a little soy thrown in. I was much healthier and was beginning to eat all kinds of crazy new foods. ZUCCHINI? ASPARAGUS? BEANS? Who woulda thought they’d be so tasty?!!! My tastes slowly expanded. I started experimenting with cooking, thinking outside the Stouffer’s box. I made FRESH veggies (growing up, they came from cans) and learned to use some spices (Lotsa garlic is good. Lemon Pepper? Not so much!). I began eating whole grain foods and whole wheat breads and pastas. I still liked my starchy white stuff but was getting better.
A few years later we were moving into our first house, right on the edge of S’more. At the time I only knew of S’more as the hippy college town full of veg heads. I worked in the small grocery store there when we were first dating (so did Darling) and so we had our first impression of people who lived there. We began walking more, eating better, becoming more cultured and dreamed of moving to the quaint town some day (which still hasn’t happened, but we live in the next best place). I heard about the farm-to-city program, a vegetable co-op. It sounded neato (look at me using that Marcia Brady word!)! Buy a share in a local farm, receive farm-fresh veggies each week, profit. Sounded to good to be true, so I did not do it. We had Bug Boy. Still didn’t do it. We had Bugaboo, started feeling like I should do it. When we moved to our current abode (1/2 mile away, S’more light) my good friend talked me into hosting the vegetable site, since there were perks. I decided (without darling’s blessing) to do it.
Here we are on year two of hosting the CSA site. I do not regret it for a second. In fact, it is seriously one of the best things I have ever done. We get fresh, in-season vegetables from May to October and I get left overs and a free share. I also pay for a fruit share (the best strawberries in the world!). Of course, I’ve met my share of crazies. Like the people who clearly need all the greens and roughage they can eat since they are so uptight (and perhaps constipated) and the folks that literally stop by once an hour until the food arrives. Or the woman who calls me from her cell phone. In her car. In front of my house. And asks if the veggies are there. She is usually eight feet from my porch at this point…
I am no longer a vegetarian but I do eat better than I have in my life. I eat beans, soy, veggie products and a multitude of grains, I eat glorious fresh produce and we do eat meat but three to four nights are meat-free. The CSA is a really cool thing. My neighbors constantly ask why there are bags of vegetables on my porch (and I do tell them what the deal is, although one day I’d just like to tell them I am baiting rabbits). Not bad for a girl who grew up thinking peas came from cans and ate BOXED MASHED POTATOES!!!!