Sunday, March 8, 2009

Foodie In The Middle

I live in Oklahoma City, fast food capitol of the world. We are known for having more fast-food restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the United States. On average it has been said that Oklahomans visit a fast food restaurant twenty-one times a month. And we're not just talking about poor and working class here. We're talking millionaires in Mercedes, queuing up for taco's, roast beef sandwiches (a.k.a 'botulism on a bun' by local emergency room physicians) and burgers and fries. Yes, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain, fast food rules.

In response to this, many say we should prepare nutritious meals at home. Encourage families and individuals to grocery shop and discover healthier options.

I more than anyone I know, am all for that. But there are several problems with this solution. First off, in Oklahoma, large superstores such as Walmart and Sam's dominate. There are very few options for obtaining food. Also, these chain stores are spread out - forcing people to drive long distances for basic needs such as bread and milk. And worst of all, most of what we find in such stores is more of the same mass produced, high fat, low in nutrition, corn syrup laden, convenience foods. What's a person to do?

Health experts tell us to stick to the outer parameter of the store. Purchase fresh fruits and vegetables instead of all those fattening, processed foods. But all we find there are tasteless, out of season, baseball hard, ersatz versions of fruits and vegetables. Nothing really appetizing.

It's a real dilemma.

Contrary to what some may think, I am not a health nut. I don't avoid fast food just because it's unhealthy. Actually, I avoid it because, to me, it tastes bad. I feel inhuman whenever I am forced to eat this stuff. The only thing I can choke down are fries and a coke. No meat. No unidentifiable foods. Like Michael Pollan said, "if your great grandmother wouldn't recognize it as food, it probably isn't." This depresses me. The only word that comes to mind is -- Soylent Green.

I am envious of all those foodies in New York, France, California, and Seattle. It's just not fair.

My only consolation is, willing to drive, I am able to find a couple decent local restaurants, some wine, some bread, some cheese, and in the summertime, farmer's markets. I live for the farmer's markets.

But don't even get me started on the liquor laws here in Oklahoma. You cannot buy wine in a grocery store, you cannot buy wine or alcohol on Sunday's, also you cannot buy wine or alcohol after 9 PM. It is only sold in liquor stores, where I skulk in and out at 10 AM during my Saturday morning errands with a single brown paper bag tucked beneath my arm. So if it's 9:30 on a Saturday night, and your cupboards are bare, and you've got guests, or just a hankerin' for a margarita or a nice glass of Zin, you're out of luck.

Take it from me, it's no fun being a foodie in the middle.

I just wanted to put that out there.


Ty'sMommy said...

Oh, I am SOOOOO with you on this one! I come from big cities, traveled to distant lands, and now, I am stuck in BFE, Illinois with a farm boy who only eats meat and potatoes. Life is, indeed, rough for a foodie in the middle. I feel your pain.

Proud Italian Cook said...

Wow Michelle, I never realized your dilema there! You poor thing. Thank goodness for farmers markets, hold on, spring is right around the corner! Can you grow your own veggies? Out here even if you don't have land they have community lots where people take a section and grow their own stuff. Do they have that out there?

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by. I think people often have an erroneous vision of midwesterners living off the land, on big farms with fresh fruits and vegetables, when it's clearly not the case. Most of what is grown is inedible feed corn and winter wheat. Sorry to hear you are stuck in the same middle boat.

Proud Italian Cook-
We really don't have any community lots here. There is one CSA(community supported agriculture) farm, and I've been on the waiting list for that for 4 years now. We just moved and there is no yard at all. There is an empty lot nearby, however, and I have actually thought of starting some type of neighborhood garden, but in this part of Oklahoma, the ground is so hard with red clay that little grows in it, and we would need to buy some special equipment to till the soil and bring in topsoil and make it garden ready. A lot of work. But I'm sure if I had the money and time, it would be worth it. We have several good farmers markets, but my main complaint is grocery shopping in the winter months. It is so frustrating to not be able to find fresh basil when you need it!

Linda said...

Hi Michelle,

Our family is in the minority when it comes to fast food - we rarely ever have it. I'm with you - I don't like the taste of it.

We also rarely ever eat out. I cook from scratch nearly every single night and that's just how we've always done it.

In fact, your blog topic goes along with my last month's newspaper column:

Firefly said...

I just read your whole post and I talk like this all the time, I could have written the exact same thing! OKC has the worst grocery stores ever. My husband and I have started a raised garden bed, there is a pic on my blog. We brought in top soil and compost -- we are just a bit south of you so the soil is red and sandy rather than clay... so we used a raised bed. Actually we have some great little ethnic restaurants down here around the university that we frequent. Locally owned and really fresh food.. E-mail me if you want the names! I feel your pain, we so need a whole foods here. We do have a new high end cheese store down here now, it is awesome.

Michelle said...

Thanks for stopping by Firefly, so glad to know that I'm not the only one feeling this way. We sure do need a Whole Foods. I'd love to have the names of some of those restaurants!

Firefly said...

I can't find your e-mail...didn't see it on your profile. Mine is Here is some of the ones I like:
Pad Thai - on campus
Sweet Basil (thai food) on Main
Pepe De Gadgos - on campus corner (mexican)
T.E.A. Cafe - on th east side (chinese/asian)
Turquoise Cafe - campus corner, great fish
Sooner Pho - Vietnamese food
The Earth Cafe and Deli -- vegetarian sandwiches and soups on campus corner
Fancy That - sandwiches, casseroles salads... all freshly made.
All of these are locally owned and some try to use as much local food as possible. They make everything fresh!

Linda said...

Hi Michelle,

Just stopping by to let you know that I check your blog daily and miss your posts!

Hope all is well.