I bought that breadmaker.
I hate it.
So far I have baked two bricks which I will save and use as part of the foundation of our house extension (should we ever chance upon a spare half a million dollars) but nothing actually edible has emerged from the wretched machine.
All it has produced is deep chagrin and a choice display of colourful and unsavoury adjectives via my good self, although several of the latter were chorused supportively and repeatedly by Two and Five with evident relish.
It’s actually not been a good week for me in terms of food. I’m not the most enthusiastic of cooks, especially where the children are concerned. I am incredibly bored by preparing meals several times a day for hungry, finicky and frankly ungrateful little personages. They dislike almost everything – at least Five does, and whatever she says he copies which amounts to double mutiny at each mealtime with attendant whining leading me either to want to:
Shout at them
Tell them to throw the food away and then tough luck if they’re hungry
Show them photos of starving children
Quietly excuse myself and slip out for a cocktail for a few years
Let them eat chocolate for every meal
But I don’t do any of these things. I keep on cooking and presenting balanced meals, having them picked over critically and feeling irritated. To make matters more vexing, it’s not as if I’m that bothered about what I eat myself. I’ll scoff something savoury if you put it in front of me, but I’m perfectly happy to live on Marmite toast and tea forever. Give me a carrot and I’m content. Or if the cupboard is bare? Perhaps I’m not quite so peckish after all..
But the children are children and as such need to be fed properly.
I was not always fed properly and that makes me feel all the more strongly that there should always be nutritious, healthy, tasty , filling food around for them, even if it kills me (and it is killing me a tiny bit).
I recall going to primary school on a single white roll, hastily bought from the shop across the road that morning with a scratch of jam and butter, accompanied by cup of instant coffee which would have been sweetened with saccharine (WTF?) and then refusing to eat school lunch because I’d seen the headmistress’s dog sniff and refuse a plate of the same.
Tiny squares of dry grey beef, possibly sheared from the toenail of an elderly bull, hard semi-spheres of ‘stuffing’ (taxidermist’s cast-offs?) and mashed potato-that-wasn’t-potato all lumped on your plate by a power-crazed older child who had been given the dubious role of doling out food to the smaller ones. If you dared to say you didn’t want a certain item, the sadistic server would merely give you an extra-large helping and pour glutinous brown gravy in a sewage-like pool all over your meal, thus rendering it into a gloopy, tasteless stew which slopped over the sides.
To follow one might be treated to a traditional British pudding such as tapioca which would sit quivering in its bowl, staring at you milkily with a million accusing eyes,or perhaps a pink blancmange with its thick, almost human skin. At least once per week we were lucky enough to be given a steaming wedge of spotted dick (Yes, my non-UK readers, that is a real dessert!). This came with a pale square of margarine and a sprinkle of sugar.
God, even just writing about school dinners makes me feel bilious.
By the time I got home, mid afternoon, I was cross eyed with starvation and desperate for food but my mother, who was perennially anxious about her weight and size, found it difficult to differentiate between herself and a growing child and thus was very keen to restrict my intake. I was allowed two pieces of fruit and perhaps one biscuit. Then I had to wait until grownup supper which was at 7.30 or so.
I often found it hard to concentrate at school.
I volunteer in Five’s classroom once per week and there is usually at least one child who is having difficulty focusing during that time. I always ask them what they had for breakfast. Invariably he or she has eaten a bowl of something sugary with a side of chemicals, or in some cases nothing at all before school. Then they’ll trot off to the lunch queue and get some more scary food, probably eating only the sweet and fatty bits. It’s going to be a hard day for them. And their teacher.
That’s part of the reason I can’t just give up and let Five and Two have more pre-prepared food (which they love). But it’s not all of it.
I don’t relish the thought of spending much more time in the kitchen – it bores the crap out of me – but I can’t bear the thought of them eating all those chemicals and pesticides and additives and preservatives, and I also can’t stand the thought of supporting the companies that sell all that shit so they can poison the rest of their classmates across America and the globe while I sit by complacently thinking about my next career move or chatting on Twitter to my friends.
We watched the documentary Food Inc. the other night. (if you’re in the USA, get it on Netflix, you can even watch it instantly) It was an eye opener.
I thought I was reasonably well informed about my food choices, but what I didn’t know was that 90% of the food on the grocery store aisles contains either corn or soybeans and both of those are GMO products made from seeds sold and grown by the evil behemoth that is Monsanto who are so powerful and aggressive that they have essentially forced their Roundup Ready (TM) seed, which has to be bought again every year, on the entire USA.
That’s one type of corn.
So much for biodiversity. Oh, and then that self-same corn is fed to cattle who spend their short and miserable lives on giant feedlots knee deep in their own shit, unable properly to digest the corn because, as any fule kno, cows eat grass, so they are stuffed with huge amounts of antibiotics to keep them from getting ill (not always successfully). Then they are transported to one of four ‘meat packing facilities’ to be slaughtered, cut up and put in a nice plastic package and sent off to a supermarket near you for supper.
Mmm! Still hungry?
And yes, you did read me correctly. There are only four meat packing facilities. In the entire United States.
Can you imagine how huge those places must be?
And how dirty? (how about a side of e-coli with that hamburger, Sir?)
And the scale of suffering and death that goes on in there?
No. I did not say Bovine Auschwitz. I did not.
It doesn’t bear thinking about, and most people don’t because they want a hamburger for a dollar a piece.
The movie went on to highlight the cheery subject of GMO crops, pesticides and artificial fertiliser.
What terrifying things are they putting on my food, my children’s food, how the land is being raped and variety being quashed in the name of big business?
How much oil is being squandered so that we can have cheap meat, or produce out of season, flown from halfway across the world while the people of that nation starve because they cannot afford the fruits of their own earth.
How is this right?
Who will pay for this frightening gamble with the planet’s resources?
My children. Your children. All of our children.
But it wasn’t all bad news.
My big takeaway (and that is the only kind of takeaway I’ll be getting from now on) from this documentary was that it is very, very important to eat organic, eat local and in season, and to avoid processed food wherever possible, reading labels carefully to identify scary ingredients. Oh, and to say bad things about Monsanto whenever I can, hoping they don’t sue me.
I will not let these giant corporations give my children poison apples and I won’t buy their bull (steak, ground beef or shit)
I’m not drinking the Kool-Aid, I’m not buying the Happy Meals, I’m not taking the King’s shilling.
I will not save a few dollars to squander the safety of my children’s health and future and I’m not contributing to the retirement fund of a bunch of amoral assholes who simply do not care about the lives of others.
So I will continue to sweat over the rejected meals, grit my teeth over the “Yuck! I don’t LIKE it”s, gaily serve up fresh, organic vegetables and try not to feel too hurt when my loving ministrations are carelessly disregarded.
Even if my children don’t like my cooking, I’m sure the earth appreciates it; my conscience is clean if the plates are not.
I’m not sure, though, that I need extend my benevolence to that damn breadmaker.
If it makes any more bricks, it’s toast.