Ask the Bartender, Ask the Plants, Ask Karoline #86
I spent most of yesterday sitting on the couch trying to do some research on collard greens for this column. I have a lot of plant, herb, gardening, cooking and preventative health books, so I figured that I would be able to unearth something without getting on the internet (which any of you could do on your own, anyway). I didn't find as much as I thought I would. Anyway, the reason I was looking for info to share on the aforementioned collards is because it is now the middle of January and I still have a fairly lively collard plant growing in my back yard - and I live in WISCONSIN!!! I'm so amazed by this plant! It was started in June and here is what it has been through since then. A hot, dry summer with very little rain, 3 different complete chompings down to the main stem by unknown furry creatures terrorizing the garden (and it grew back bigger each time), a ton of rain during the late fall, buried in almost a foot of snow up to the top few leaves for close to a month in December and now (we haven't had any snow in a few weeks and all the lawns are green and somewhat lush - which is entirely wrong for the middle of January) it sits amongst strawberry plants as the last sentinel of the garden...a reminder that eventually things will start growing again. All of the other collards were harvested in October and our freezer is overflowing with them. I'm not sure why we didn't harvest the plant I’m talking about - most likely because it's in a smaller bed by the garage and the animals seemed to like it so much. I'm still a bit perplexed that no furry busy body has seized the collard as a winter snack - maybe the creature that loves to eat it is bedded down for the winter. Suffice to say that collard greens and kale are hardy/hearty and delicious/nutritious for you. Get on the internet and check 'em out. Great in soups, stews, and lightly steamed. Leafy greens, people!!! You need 'em. Easy to grow, readily available at any store and possibly wintering in a garden near you.
As I was searching for collard info, I got stuck on two books. One of them has been with me for many years - it is a massive source of information on nutrition and finding the synthesis of vital elements of Eastern and Western Food practices and philosophies in life. Healing With Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford. Truly amazing. You can open up to any section and jump right in - although it would probably make more sense to just start at the beginning. The second book is a new one, recently purchased, called The Hip Chick's Guide To Macrobiotics by Jessica Porter. Now, normally I try to avoid anything that might have the words 'hip chick' in it. Primarily because I LOATHE the word 'chick' and let's be honest...I'm just not very hip. I decided to ignore the cover and dive into the contents. I'm fascinated with the macrobiotic diet. I don't think that I could ever truly be hardcore macrobiotic, but I'm really drawn to a lot of the thought/principles behind it. I have quite a few books on macrobiotics, but they are from the 70's and are written by somewhat stuffy/serious Japanese men. (there is nothing wrong with that! I love the 70's and am quite fond of almost all things Japanese (including the people, regardless of gender - but I digress). I was curious how a modern woman was presenting the macrobiotic world in a 'hip' fashion. Of course, I didn't start at the beginning, I just flipped through and stopped as things caught my fancy. There is some seriously good reading in here. I'm definitely going to go back and start at the beginning.
The weirdest part about my day of reading about health and nutrition was that I had the television on during most of it (which is silly, but I am quite fond of some bad tv - especially during the winter). I was deep into a passage about eating great whole grains and vegetables, chewing your food 50 times per bite, not drinking liquids with your meals (dilutes the nutritional value of what you are consuming - drink liquids 1/2 hour before you eat) when I'm distracted by a flurry of commercials for products made by Monistat brands (yeast infection suppositories, anti chafing creams), Pringles and Diet Coke. I just sat there kind of in awe about the juxtaposition of what my brain was processing between the books and the television. How many people would find a lunch of Pringles and Diet Coke a perfectly reasonable option? I know I did when I was in High School. How many people would rather go hungry than eat a bowl of wild rice and steamed collard greens for dinner. I would have turned up my nose at it 15 years ago. How many women suffer through endless yeast infections because of a poor mainstream diet of junk food/overprocessed crap and diet drinks and endless grooming with harsh chemicals to conform to social standards of appearance and smell. I don't even want to think what the number would be! I'm not trying to get on a huge soapbox here, I just want people to try and stop and think about a few simple things. Everything you put in your body has an effect on you. Try and put good things in there! More fruit and vegetables. Look for things that are locally produced. Whole grains, leafy greens, NO FUCKING NUTRA SWEET OR SPLENDA - you don't need that toxic shit!!! Oops - I guess I got on that darn soap box for a second. Take the time to really chew your food well. The more you chew, the slower you eat and the quicker you get full...and the better you digest your food. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it sure makes sense if you think about it!
Life goes by so quickly, take the time to slow down and enjoy it with some home cooking, lots and lots of garlic and cud chewing. Oh yeah, there's nothing wrong with a little junk food/beer/wine/spirits in your life. It's just all about moderation and consideration. Consider the benefit and be moderate in your consumption. Unless you are on vacation - then I recommend throwing caution to the wind.
Should you find yourself in Milwaukee, I highly recommend the fabulous Broad Vocabulary (Milwaukee's Feminist Bookstore) located at 2241 S. Kinnickinnick in the beautiful Bay View neighborhood. 414-744-8384. Rad women, awesome selections, and an incredible lineup of events and gatherings.
I've got high hopes of California and New York trips coming up this late winter/early spring. I'm also dreaming of a Limp Wrist tour of the midwest. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Love that Limp Wrist!!! Yummy!
-karoline / c/o Fuel Cafe/ 818 E. Center Street/ Mke, WI 53212