Wednesday, May 28, 2008


When I was a teenager the four major food groups were the cheeseburger group, the french fry group, the milkshake group and the jelly donut/cheesecake group, though not necessarily in that order, and you can throw in a double sub plus a large pizza with extra cheese. And some chocolate creme pie after. Time of day didn't matter much, either. A Snickers for breakfast was good.

It was a constantly changing bunch of groups that comprised our towering food pyramid, a shifty structure-- could be some cherry coke or potato chips or a sundae in there for example, depending on what store you were in, how much cash you had in your jeans and how many broke friends you were with. When times we hard we could do 8 on a Mars bar. There were prodigality controls at work, as in any natural system.

And as reflected in the morphing menu it was a different world back then, a better-tasting, scarfier, more edible world, at least for us teens. In school we were taught at yawning length about the conventional food groups and pyramids, with their grains and vegetables and milk bottles cluttering up the foodscape, but who lives according to what school says?

Ours was a food group you could dig into with both hands and not stop till the last crumb of cheesecake; ours was a food pyramid we were willing to climb over and over to the summit, a banana split with everything. Our pyramid was built of stuff we could appreciate day in, day out and in between. Oddly though, there was no obesity among us; not a single member of our gang was overweight. Times have gotten heavier, somehow.

Our rampant and broadly undiscriminating diet may have had much to do with the ignorance and inexperience of youth, but now, with the food police everywhere checking salt and sugar intake, cholesterol, transfats, vitamins, minerals and roughage, greens and yellows on down the long and growing list, we're living in the shadow of looming pyramids that blot out the view as they stretch to the nutritional horizon. It's no longer the simple and satisfying nomnom of eating, but the correctness of ingestion, the appropriateness of diet, with bibles of restraint, health, beauty, vitality, longevity-- buzzwords like a full colonic, how buff can you be, carbon footprint on the nape of the neck.

Jelly donuts with fat labels, cheesecake borderline criminal, like smoking and drinking. When will we return to the heedless glomming that is our birthright? Pretty much never, in my case. It has a lot to do with aging and unavoidable wisdom. As much as the distant teenager in me would like to follow up my tofu and lightly stir-fried fresh organic vegetables with a chunky wedge of New York cheesecake the size of an industrial door stopper - the kind of dessert I used to scarf like a hungry dog when I was ignorant of time and capable of promethean consumption - I'm chronically wiser now, and can enjoy the amazement that I've survived. I'll follow up that lunch with a nice grape.

My former food pyramid is but a molehill now-- time and wisdom will do that to a man, though when I return to the States on my vacations I still frequent the aging structure; nothing lasts forever...


Gina said...

Back home, back to happy childhood? Enjoy ! Nothing wrong with once in a while!

tracy said...

We are presently having lots of conversations in our creative healing committee meetings at work; about the lack and loss of good fats, raw milk, and natural sugars in our diets--on a national level. For instance, it is difficult to purchase meats (for those who eat meat) in this country that are connected with bone; everything is boneless...not so good. The days of natural raw milk and pure churned butter were not only tastier days, but healthier days. Some of our local farmers and neighborhood families are starting Co-ops. I hope to be part of such a thing in the future...less process and preservatives...more back to nature choices. With the right things to start with, even cake, now and then, can be better :)

tracy said...

Oh, and Robert, I am simply lovin' all your great pictures on the sidebar...gorgeous, they are!