Local food abomination

December 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm 8 comments

By Lyle Estill

Over here at Estill Family Food Labs we like to perform science experiments on live human subjects.  One of our big hits this Christmas season was homemade lemonade from Margo’s Meyer lemons.

Tami made a simple syrup out of some of Rick’s honey and water, mixed it up with freshly squeezed lemons, and it was fabulous.  When children ask for seconds the experiment is deemed to be a success.

Not everything we try goes that way.  One of our subjects, who is 13, refuses to eat the underground tempeh we love.  And also boycotts venison, leaving us to sneak it into lasagna and other dishes.

Our family tends to fall on a spectrum.  Dad is a hyper-local on all things, wanting the cookies to be made from locally milled organic flour, that has come from Looking Back Farm, 283 miles from the table where the cookies are to be devoured.  Wanting things served on plates made from local clay.

Arlo is an “adventure eater,” who will try anything, and performs his own food experiments. Tami could go either way.  She generally humors me, but she is also inclined to include caviar on her homemade cornbread.  And Zafer will go out of his way to consume over processed partially hydrogenated high fructose corn syrup products every chance he gets.

For Christmas this year, he bought his brother a box of Apple Jacks, a box of Corn Pops, and a box of Lucky Charms.  Imagine my horror to round the corner into our kitchen to be greeted by this scene.  The boys have filled the latest Mark Hewitt bowls with Apple Jacks. 

On the table is a plate of homemade cookies, a cooking pumpkin for Christmas dinner, in a bowl fashioned from the old oak tree that fell down in the yard. And a returnable bottle of milk from Maple View Dairy.

I’m not sure how they arrived at the colors for Apple Jacks, since they don’t seem to appear in nature.

Oh well.  It’s Christmas.  Once the horror subsided I sat down and had a bowl…

Entry filed under: Commentary, Lyle Estill, Sustainable Food.

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8 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jess  |  December 29, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    The spectrum is natural. It can take time to deprogram. Subbing in organic, or local when it comes to your everyday foods can be a challenge. After all, we are creatures of habit. If you enjoy a bowl of Apple Jacks in the morning, Gorilla Munch doesn’t quite cut it.

    It can take time to fully understand the importance of what you put in your body and where it comes from. The cool thing is your body learns too- it’s only a matter of time before you’ll physically reject partially hydrogenated corn syrup.

    And once you do start learning the importance of food- on the environment and on your body- Gorilla Munch begins tasting better and better.

  • 2. Beth  |  December 29, 2009 at 10:39 pm

    Gorilla Munch isn’t so bad. What really is bad are the Apple Jacks served in a plastic bowl at the Hilton buffet in Chicago, IL on family holiday layover…it’s great being part of a family and a tradition that values food and it always has been. Coming from a farm family in Eastern NC in the 1970’s meant that anything from a grocery store meant that you had not the ability to grow your own food…and this was considered to be a detriment and not a gift. Sugar (unbleached, non-organic and imported from Hawaii) was the only thing that we went to the local A & P to get because we grew, put away and cured everything else.
    More to come, let the revolution continue to prosper….

  • 3. Tami  |  December 29, 2009 at 10:50 pm

    Well, while I do appreciate things from far away, I run a non-profit who’s mission is to further the local food production and consumption in North Carolina. These cereals are sick and should be discontinued, and are not real food and I’m pretty sure they will cause cancer when eaten in quantity. Most days our family starts out with very local eggs to get started. Our dinners are typically extremely local with a CSA from Farmer Doug (Farmer of the year 2009!) and local meats from Chatham Marketplace or we buy some pig from a local farmer or we eat our own venison. We are all on a journey and whatever steps each of us can take, will make us healthier and of course our earth healthier!

  • 4. Kaitlin  |  December 29, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    perhaps if local,organic cereals didn’t taste terribly people wouldn’t crave Apple Jack’s.I feel no shame when I wake up in the morning and dig into a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

    • 5. sustainablegrub  |  December 30, 2009 at 11:36 am

      Dear Arlo and Zafer,

      Don’t worry, having Apple Jacks on Christmas vacation won’t kill you. It will just leave you hungry for more junk two hours later (the good ol’ sugar high), which won’t be so great when you’re back at school. If you’re bored with eggs and want something tasty and sweet, I recommend a peanut butter and honey sandwich for breakfast, it will stay wth you til at least lunch time. And the PB at Chatham Marketplace comes without hydrogenated vegetable oil or transfat.

      That should keep your folks happy, at least for awhile.

      To peace in the family,


  • 6. Kaitlin  |  December 29, 2009 at 11:18 pm

    Perhaps if local,organic cereals didn’t taste terrible people wouldn’t crave Apple Jack’s.I feel no shame when I wake up in the morning and dig into a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios.

  • 7. jeff barney  |  December 31, 2009 at 9:35 am

    I just returned from Michigan. Farmland still dominates the landscape .As the economy there has collapsed for obvious reasons, the developers have stopped plopping manufractured subdivisions on the rich soil.Yet, like some third world country the food and livestock are shipped elsewhere to be over processed as the population becomes fat and embalmed alive. Maybe these zombie movies are on to something. Zafer, dooood, lemmeno when you are ready to come and apprentice.

  • 8. kersten  |  January 8, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    I was brought up in a household that stressed natural foods. My father grew an extensive garden and my mother loved to experiment with foods from around the world using these ingredients. My parent’s policy was stay away from anything that was not organic. They meant that in the sense that it was from nature. Not the official term we use today as organic. My mother only bought “non sugary” cereals. We had lots of granola and Cheerios as kids. However, we were allowed to sprinkle sugar on top of said cereal or drizzle honey over it that was harvested from the bees in our yard. I guess my mom’s issue was the chemicals in the sugary cereals and not the sugar itself.
    I have spent countless hours reading and learning about sustainable food practices, local food movements, and organic lifestyles. I have spent more time worrying myself about the effects of all the other types of food production on our bodies and our earth.
    I tend to live with a guilty pit in my stomach over all of the things I want to do to improve myself and the world. I have decided that I am much happier when living the healthy life. However, I will not bring myself down with guilt and worry over the details. Every time I choose local,sustainable, organic…..I feel good about the world. However, we all like to squeeze a lime in our Mojito once in a while.


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