food morality & artichokes

There has been a debate recently on the Hand Mirror (and in further response here) criticising Anne Else's concern about corner shops marketing a 'school lunch' containing entirely packaged food of very little nutritional value.

I was going to post online about my jerusalem artichoke adventure tonight. Having never eaten (nor seen) jerusalem artichokes last year, I read about them and hankered for some in my garden. Corrine very generously sent me some tubers and tonight we had a new culinary experience. FH, Fionn and I liked them. Brighid doesn't get a vote anyway, due to the enormous proportion of evening meals she doesn't bother to eat. I cooked them something like this:

250g packet of bacon, chopped into smallish pieces
8 big cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small onion, chopped
about ten medium sized jerusalem artichokes, peeled and cut into even sized pieces
lots of butter (perhaps 50g)
fresh sage, chopped
fresh parsley, chopped

Fry half of the bacon and the onion in half of the butter, then add the artichokes and the garlic and fry some more and then tip some water in (maybe 1/4 - 1/2 cup, who knows given I didn't measure anything) and put the lid on and cook for about 10 minutes and then take the lid off, turn it up and cook until the liquid has evaporated and while this is happening, cook the rest of the bacon and the sage in the rest of the butter and then mix in the parsley towards the end. Pour mixture 2 over mixture 1 and serve. I hastily grated some carrot and beetroot and chopped parsley into it with some acv and olive oil for a salad to go with it. We could have done with a bit more food, probably due to hunger from swimming in the afternoon. I can't multi-task too well when I am trying an entirely new cooking adventure.

It is true that foods of any description may taste divine when cooked with garlic and bacon and butter. But still, the actual tubers tasted good and the garlic (I had quite big cloves) tasted very nice like this as well, quite sweet and mellow but not super-mushy like roasted garlic is. I adapted my original recipe to include the sage as I had read about the flatulence issue and sage is supposedly good for dealing to flatulence.

So, the jerusalem artichokes taste good, they are easy to grow, they produce attractive sunflowers in late summer and they also crop heavily. What's not to like? I think I will replant some tubers in more parts of the garden soon. I am going to have to magic up some hours to dig up more lawn for garden as I want some room for spuds as well. The yield from my maori potatoes last year didn't really stack up to our limited space, so I'll plant some agria (not yet in the garden shop) instead. I'm also pondering asparagus again. Space space space. The other day I harvested the first of my kohlrabi, peeled it and grated it into a bowl of grated carrot, avocado, salmon and coriander pesto. That tasted good. The plants are going to seed I see. Does this mean I need to harvest the bulbous part of the stalks (which not every plant formed) pronto?

So, the bigger picture, food morality. I absolutely believe in food morality. I've had too many experiences with poor health not to believe in food morality. I've seen the effects of changing food choices on my own health and that of my family, particularly of my son whose eczema dominated my parenting concerns for 3-4 years. I've seen the effect of food choices on the ability of young people to function in a way which enables them to remain in a learning environment.

To me, not to ascribe morality to food is a luxury many do not have. I could be quite wrong, but I would hazard that posters/commenters who wish food to be amoral are in their twenties with dominant experiences of food as weight control-related morality. Specifically relating to Anne's post, the issues around crap food packaged for lunches are not confined to the poor, though the relationship between crap food and time poverty is strong.

Food is nourishment at so many levels. I want conversations, debate, research, market developments and kitchen action to continue to consider food in moral terms because I don't want industry to determine all of my food choices. I don't consider food choices to stand alone. Anyone who has spent time considering the effects of antibiotics on the human body and the alternatives, is likely to see what I see: the world of pharmaceutical companies and that of big food industries is closely linked. I also think I want to claim the space of food morality for nourishment and enrichment and not leave that space vacant for dieting and endless weight loss and food restriction narratives. A mars bar is not evil, it's just not a great idea to eat three every day.

Last night my son and husband went to the League breakup (rugby league, yes they WON their finals!!!! very exciting). We'd all been out at the game during the day, and I knew not to send 'healthy' food like I did two years ago when I was a newbie league mother and had kids laugh at my food (my hummous and carrot sticks was the only food not touched by the end of the evening). They took supermarket sausage rolls and pizza for the shared buffet and had a blast, with Fionn even securing some cola in my absence, to his great delight. I kept my daughter home as she was just getting on top of the (suspected) urinary tract infection and I didn't want her gorging on fizzy and having a late night just when we were turning the corner to good health and uninterrupted nights of sleep. Food matters. Due to the journey of learning we've been on in recent years, I was able to pick early signs of possible infection, engage the treatment and support of Laksmi (visceral manipulation and something else I don't have a name for, maybe cranial something), and pump cranberry juice, aloe vera and vitamin c through Brighid at frequent intervals. We are going back to Laksmi next week and I have a list of symptoms in my head which will prompt a visit to the doctor, but in the absence of these symptoms, I think we've avoided a round of antibiotics and that has to be good, given my experiences with auto-immune dysfunction related to loads of antibiotics.

The benefits of our efforts were clear today healthwise, when I took the children swimming, the first time in many months.

I will admit freely to some irritation with food injunctions. Even occasional readers of this blog will be familiar with my frustrated relationship with Sally Fallon's book Nourishing Traditions. Wider than the WAPF movement, organic enthusiasts more generally like to talk about the ways that organic food isn't really that much dearer as you give up the pre-packaged food along the way.

The story of the organic free range chicken and the 3+ meals you can get out of each chook is familiar to all of us by now. I would happily never read about that again. The assumption that we are all 'unclean', the lost souls wandering the supermarket aisles eating only food from packets is a nice clear dichotomy between the fallen children and those at the right hand of God who eat only unsullied, unpackaged food, but it doesn't reflect reality. Plenty of people know all about stretching the chook and it is a treat even when the bird is a caged one and on special to boot. I've been changing a few trolley items to reflect my desire to eat more omega 3 foods and also I've switched our breakfast oats to organic ones and the difference at the checkout is major. And yes I did know how to budget, shop and cook both before and after these changes.

They've changed our kindy around, wiping out the traditional morning and afternoon sessions and moving to something much more like a childcare centre. The number of places for children will drop dramatically. They've given us six weeks' notice and absolutely no community consultation at all. I am furious. And sad. and furious. and angry. Angry at Kidsfirst Kindergartens making decisions in their offices in Christchurch about our community early childhood centre, OUR community family resource, here in our little part of the West Coast. I'm also angry at the government, both this one and the one before. I'm meeting with a couple of friends tomorrow to talk about it, and when I have written my letter to the management at Kidsfirst, I will post a copy on this blog.


Mary said…
Congratulations on the league result!

I had a similar plate experience at my daughter's school. Our healthy option made it home almost untouched!).

I don't like what's happening with some kindies either. What I like about NZ's early childhood sector is that there are lots of choices - parent-led, teacher-led, sessional, philosophies such as Steiner or Monty etc etc. And as you say, the changes are turning kindies more like daycares and less like the unique philosophy that kindy used to represent. And then there's the consultation issue.... I'll be interested to read your letter when you post it.
Emma said…
KidsFirst is a private entity isn't it? Money driven? Even if it isn't if all the parents get together and decide they don't want the new system then the old one will be returned (has happened in a few other places).
I send dried fruit to things and despite my teen's protestations that no-one would eat them the bag was emptied in 5 minutes :-)
Food has gone up in price so much it is now cheaper to drink beer than milk - something I may contemplate (except i hate the taste of beer)
cesca said…
KidsFirst is public kindy - it costs nothing to attend.

Just a quick note re kindy... our KidsFirst kindy changed to all day sessions 3 years ago. I LOVED it! Seriously, it was the BEST thing to have ever happened to our kindy.

I only wish they'd done it earlier, as it had been a huge PITA to take my boy to morning sessions every single day, and my girl to afternoon sessions three afternoons...! Back and forth, back and forth...

Anyway, my boy started school the week before the change happened, but it was suddenly SO easy... instead of 17 hours for my girl in five morning sessions, we did 18 hours in three full day sessions (we chose Mon, Wed, Fri). I could get things done (including a part-time job), she had a full day of kindy fun.

Just giving an alternative view. :-)
Hi Mary, Emma & Cesca
Thanks on the league congrats, though my main contribution was yelling in the right places instead of chatting about unrelated topics on the sideline.

Cesca I think the changes will work out okay for us in practical terms and apparently most parents have been really pleased with the changes but my biggest issue is with the way it was introduced.

I hadn't thought of beer being cheaper but you are right, Emma. Even I couldn't manage beer on my morning cereal, though I do like the taste of it more than of milk.

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