It started with a corn chip. I was eating corn chips – a fresh bag – and they tasted like hell. I had a tomato and some strawberries, thinking eating healthy would be good, but my body said otherwise. They made me feel poorly. I was in the airport waiting for my flight to the Bay Area, thinking “What the hell are they putting in this stuff – it’s a freakin’ corn chip?”

I anticipated that my trip would be emotionally exhausting, and I would be run down from all the work, but I ended up feeling better than I had in years. I mean, after a couple days, I was feeling really good. Part of it was being able to see good friends, and some of it was a few days without working. But it was more than that – after a week I realized that I had been eating really well and it was making me feel much better. The food we ate in Berkeley was largely locally grown fruits and vegetables, organic meats and grains. Every time I went to dinner at someone’s house it was food out of the garden. Well, the Scotch was not locally crafted, but everything else was.

I mentioned this over dinner one night and I got an earful. My friends went into an entire story about how their farm animals can tell the difference between genetically engineered corn and the ‘real’ stuff, and tend to leave it uneaten. In fact it was the health of their pets – average lifespan of their dogs extended by 35%, and fewer incidents of cancer – that convinced my hosts to go on a natural food diet. They told me they had gone vegetarian, but later realized it was not a meat vs. no meat issue, but a crap food issue. They went through the process of finding raw foods and bought a place where they could have a year-round garden. They are eating meat again – but it took a long time to find food that was not totally bastardized.

I have to say that chicken taste like chicken. That may sound stupid, but the slow degradation of eating grocery store or fast food chicken prevents you from realizing just how far off what’s being sold to you is. Taste and texture. The real stuff cooks differently as well, and it just tastes great! I guess I always knew home grown tasted better – but I was not aware how much. The pork was white meat and tasted great. The eggs tasted nothing like what I get in the supermarket. None of the bottled sauces, syrups, or seasonings – it was all homemade. I had known there is a huge difference in produce – especially tomatoes – as you can’t find a tomato that tastes like anything but water at mainstream grocery stores. But between the engineering on the tomato varieties so they remain firm for shipment, and the fact that they’re picked weeks before they are ripe and instead turned red with gas… no wonder the taste is absent. Good food makes eating more fun.

This resulted in a very weird experience when I got back home – walking through the grocery store, I felt as if half the stuff on the shelves was poisonous. In fact I had trouble finding anything I wanted to eat – even if you read the label, you can’t determine what’s in these ‘products’, but it’s likely not food. And for those who know me, given my metabolism, getting enough food is usually a problem. Trying to eat healthy was compounding the issue. So I decided to do something about it, and jump in with both feet. In fact I am making up for lost time.

I’ve started driving 25 miles down to the good grocery stores to get better food. I have decided to grow more food, and in the last few days discovered fruit trees that thrive in desert heat; I ordered a half dozen peach, apricot, aprium, apple, and almond trees. I purchased Valencia ‘summer’ oranges to fill the summer gap in citrus – I already have 9 trees that ripen at differnt times of the year. I have replaced most of the sugar in the house with unprocessed stuff, stocking up on honey and maple syrup. I am researching beehives – I have space way out back in mind. I have replaced all the flour in the house with different grades of whole wheat and buckwheat flour. I have designed a garden enclosure – in CAD – to keep the million-and-one different varieties or critters out of the garden I will be building shortly. I have found seeds for vegetables that thrive in the desert heat. I am looking for someone in Phoenix who sells non-steroid, non-hormone and low/no antibiotic beef. Heck, I am even considering a chicken coop.

Even as I type this, it sounds radical to me. So much so that I am afraid Rich is going to come over here, place me in an arm-bar, and scream ‘Hippie!’ in my ear. But so far I am feeling better and meals taste a lot better, so what the hell. It’s more work, and in the short term will be much higher cost, but so far I think it’s worth it.

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