Friday, August 28, 2009

I do not recommend blogging while jogging

Critical thoughts on 80's and 90's eating and dancing

So, last night my sisterfriends Cristy Rose, Sarah, and I went on quite the dance adventure in Santa Monica and Hermosa Beach. After a long day of labor intensive work (brunch meeting from 10 am-1pm, lunch meeting with Farmer Blair from Indiana who talked about raising chickens-he gave a graphic description of how to slaughter a chicken involving a clothesline, gallon bottle cut in half, pan to collect blood and...a knife, dude I was so into it. I can't wait to experience the beautiful, natural cycle that is raising animals in a respectful and loving way to then kill and eat them to sustain our bodies with their nourishment. The food-based meetings were followed by an afternoon of CSA, community outreach and educational planning emails).

So, after a day of sitting and eating we were ready to dance our brains out. We witnessed a beautiful sunset while driving down the PCH to a free show at the Santa Monica Pier. We danced with Tomas ("a" should be accented in Tomas) and Mike, our Arts 4 Action friends. The band was made up of the surviving members of WAR (I think they were called The Lowrider Band-see upcoming Dazed and Confused mention). I think WAR is somehow related to the Chicano movement, but not sure. Hold on, I am googling this...According to WAR's website: "Our mission was to spread a message of brotherhood and harmony," states WAR founder, singer/keyboardist Lonnie Jordan. "Our instruments and voices became our weapons of choice and the songs our ammunition. We spoke out against racism, hunger, gangs, crimes, and turf wars, as we embraced all people with hope and the spirit of brotherhood. It's just as apropos today" They also played at the first Black Congressional Caucus and their song "Why Can't We Be Friends" (which will always remind me of the freshmen hazing scene from "Dazed and Confused" love that movie) played as a soundtrack to (quoting from the WAR site) "the first U.S.-Soviet space mission in which Astronauts and Cosmonauts linked up in the spirit of friendship." So, no Chicano movement connection that I found, but WAR soundtracking the astronaut/cosmonaut outer space love mission? Awesome. Oh wait, I found the connection. Check it out on a Mas (how do I put in accents on blogs? The "a" should be accented there) Magazine post I am totally digressing. Sorry.

The part of the blog where critical thoughts on 80's and 90's living and dancing really begins

After bootie shaking at the Santa Monica Pier we relocated to Pier Ave. in Hermosa Beach to check out a fantastic 80s cover band comprised of two good friends of mine from my college days at USC. Ryan and Nick put on a really good show. They put their own electronica, modern spin on 80's classics. I don't know if anyone else out in the blog void (love this term Katerina) had a childhood (uh, continuing into adulthood) obsession with David Bowie's "The Labyrinth" but Ryan and Nick do a stellar, stellar cover of Dance Magic Dance. So, as I (along with Cristy Rose and Sarah) was dancing with truly reckless abandon to all the 80s classics (reckless abandon like jumping and singing and spinning, but fully clothed) it got me thinking about the food lifestyles of the 80s and 90s. There seems to have been some generational, cultural shift in our approach to food. While I think there have been many major shifts in our socio-economic/cultural approaches to food, I come from a white upper-middle class family, so I am just talking about this sub-group here. This shift was brewing in the 70's (thank you major social movements, we are liberated! Liberated people are busy being liberated we must cook for convenience!) This shift seems to have exploded in the 80's and 90's. I know folks like Michael Pollen and Barbara Kingsolver (and many others as I have come to find out) have been writing about this exact thing, but I was thinking about this on a more personal level.

I was totally shocked at my mom's response the other day when I asked if I needed to dry the lima beans I had shucked off the lima bean plant Farmer Paul left (he left them for my mom! We are winning her over!). She said, "Oh no! Don't dry them! Lima beans are best fresh off the plant. I remember walking down my grandfather's lima bean fields and popping the fresh lima beans right into my mouth." Now, I knew my great-grandfather was a lima bean farmer, right here on the Oxnard Plain where our farm is, but I had never, in my life, seen a lima bean plant before moving to this farm. I had never even seen a fresh lima bean! The lima beans I was used to seeing (and declining to eat) were of the frozen, packaged variety! I was embarrassingly old when I made the connection that beans come in a pod and the pod grows on a plant that grows in the ground (I think this revelation came eating edamame out of the pod with Elizabeth at sushi).

My childhood eating memories are blurred with television ads. When talking about childhood eating experiences with other members of my generation we can all recite the jingles of push pops ("don't push me, push a push pop!"), tootsie pops (the owl asking, "how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?"), bagel bites ("pizza in the mornin', pizza in the evenin', pizza at suppertime! When pizza's on a bagel you can have pizza anytime.") Feel free to add other jingles blogfriends. Is it weird that my childhood eating memories are a weird mental montage of nice family dinners around the table with animated animals crunching into tootsie pops and little kids shoving bagel bites into their mouths after soccer practice?

Another result of my childhood eating is I am an expert at using the microwave. Yesterday I steamed a whole spaghetti squash in the microwave. It was awesome. Most things I microwaved as a kid did not come in vegetable form. (Did you know you can make an entire box of Kraft Mac & Cheese in the microwave, from beginning to end?)

Here is where I get into the generational shift.
I GUARANTEE YOU both my grandfathers have pretty much always known beans come from pods that come from bean plants that grow in the ground.

I GUARANTEE YOU both my grandfathers were not marketed by food corporations at a young age (yes I know there was marketing and advertising around in ye old times, but there was no Disney Channel and Nickelodean television market).

I GUARANTEE YOU both my grandfathers were not experts at making mac & cheese in the microwave. I would be willing to bet (not guarantee) that neither of them has ever eaten mac & cheese.

I know elements of food convenience, food marketing and advertising, and food tech advances are vital to our daily lives and can actually make us happy and healthy eaters (I reserve the right to take this back). I am not advocating we overthrow all the advances made in food production and consumption. I think I am just critically reflecting. Are all these food changes, which mark differences in how my grandfathers and I eat food, really advances if I discovered as an adult that beans come from pods that grow on plants that grow on the ground and do not, in fact, come from frozen, cardboard, microwavable containers?

Homesteading in the 21st Century #2
As Katerina and I discussed, since the inception of farming folks have probably been better at farming/gardening than others. I imagine folks in the days of old would confer at town gathering or barn raisings and discuss crop problems or trouble shoot growing problems with village elders. We here on the farm are experiencing similar crop problems. Unidentifiable bugs are in our 2 acres. Our cucumbers in the intern veggie patch are looking sad. We also have village elders who help us troubleshoot (our elders are Mike Taylor and Susan Crespi!). However, we also troubleshoot with internet chatrooms and websites! A whole world-wide-web village of town elders!

Info about me #2
I grew up with a wonderful great dane named bluebell. When I was a child she fulfilled both my little girl dreams of having a dog and a pony. She was like both in one. I always knew that the comic strip Marmaduke was about a great dane. I just learned last weekend at Liv's going aways party (she went to Cuenca, Ecuador to teach at the same school I taught in!) that Scooby Doo is ALSO A GREAT DANE. This blew my mind. How did I not know this?

Casey is wonderful
Thank you Casey for being my 21st century tech troubleshooter/elder (you can be my computer elder even though I am technically older). The past two (and only) times I have blogged, in cahoots with my computer has done some weird freezing thing. This resulted in me freaking out. Like really freaking out. Casey, your calm knowledge of computer language and behavior helped remedy its ills and I could successfully post my blog. Thank you. Thank you.


  1. Does the accent on Tomas' name just give it the proper Spanish flair, or were you indicating that he is an ass?

    Love reading this blog Erynn. The marketing that our generation went through is horrible, and the growth in obesity i think is highly connected to the fact that we would eat Bagel Bites after soccer practice and have Happy Meals as a meal several times a week. It hurts to see companies trying to turn to a more "green" approach to advertising for the mere fact that they can make money rather than improve our lives. I have serious doubts about MacDonald's selling fruit and advertising that they use the best ingredients they can. Course, it probably is just my socialist leaning skepticism of huge corporations.


  2. Your points have been stewing in my brain for a long time John. I am working on breaking down certain longstanding stereotypes and characterizations that have lived in my head and heart for a long time. Namely, the corporations are evil enterprises stereotype. Corporate CEOs are people too, and I refuse to believe they are categorically bad. That being said, these people continue to make decisions that increase shareholders profits at the expense of the public good. Like you mentioned, healthy options at McDonald's (where do these apples come from? Do they try to source to local growers to stimulate local economy and reduce the distance the apples travel?) Or how about the effect large corps have had on the organic certification process. What used to be a very rigorous and regulated process is slowly being corroded (I was reading about chemicals they have recently approved and the sourcing of organic products to CHINA because it is cheaper to produce) due to corporate lobbying of politicians. Apparently i have a socialist leaning skepticism of huge corporations also.

    Also, is this John as in my friend from CSUCI John?