Saturday, March 21, 2009

Food in Chile, and other random thoughts

I'm trying to think of how to ramp up my energy level, and all quick avenues are ridiculous. Seems like the best way is just to do a little more each day...walk a little further, take fewer breaks, continue to eat better. Also, of course, the hardest...smoke less. Make fewer "lists" which is actually a time-consuming activity undertaken to avoid actually DOING something. I could wallpaper my bedroom with the "to-do" lists I have made since moving to Patagonia.

Eating: Most of what we eat here is the most basic of basic. The meat is almost exclusively local, free-grazed, the chicken, cows and even pigs. Most of the produce is local, although some comes from Central Chile where I cannot verify if it is sprayed with chemicals. That said, I eat a hell-of-alot more healthy here, though variety is lacking, than I did anywhere else I have lived. Costa Rica and Panama were the dumping grounds for pesticides and fertilizers long banned in the US. I don't know about Central Chile, but here in this area, people simply don't have the money to fall into that Catch-22, and rely on rotating crops, grazing, and age-old remedies for maintaining a sustainable farm.

Go into Nono's barn and you will not find jugs and barrels of pesticides, or bags of hybrid seed. You will find barrels of chicha, and bags of seed potatoes and tools and farm equipment that looks like it belongs in the Smithsonian. We all buy our flour from a granary across the boarder in Argentina which comes from local fields farmed by the Welsh farmers much like it was a hundred years ago, and ground in the same granary founded a century ago by the founders of the town.

Much of the food we eat in the US is a disgrace. Processed process foods, so that how some of it is even labeled food is beyond me. How we treat the land, and animals that give us food is a disgrace. Few even know what real food tastes like anymore, or how it is produced. My eggs have an orange yolk and stand up when cracked in a pan. My beef is lean, so lean that ground beef will not hold together for a hamburger for lack of unnecessary fat. Butter is pungent and pale. No such thing as Velveeta (which is NOT cheese) or Chicken McNuggest (which is barely chicken). Lack of variety here is a small price to pay when I consider that mostly I see my food, know how it comes to be food, and how it affects the land. Aside from fruits, most of my food comes from totally organic land, and the animals graze and all that sits on my dinner table is part a great, sustainable, non-toxic process.

Exercise. I wonder if anyone in the US, paying for those wonderful Gym Memberships realizes how silly that is, from this perspective? They drive to a Whole Foods Store to buy "organic" food, then drive to the gym to exercise. Hhhhmmm. I've started to walk up to my neighbor's farm a little over 1 kilometer away (uphill) instead of wasting fuel by driving there. hip hurts, and I huff a little, but more and more, it's less of a chore. Next, I will venture the other way, over the bridge and around (2 kilometers) to Blanca's farm for honey, and cheese. To be honest, at around $5 a gallon (538 pesos a liter) my motivation is more monetary than health.

Smoking. I smoke way too much. A horrible, horrible habit. I see that Chile tobacco prices, while cheaper than the US, are not what other Latin American countries put forth. I can buy a carton of Marlboro cigarettes in Argentina for about $13 US, and it is about the same in Panama. In Chile, a pack is around $3 for Marlboro, and the next comparable brand is ...LUCKY STRIKE. Chile puts pictures of cancer victims on the packs, diseased-dissected lungs. Does this discourage me? No. But price gets attention. I hope -despite my ranting addiction - that all countries continue to tax the shit out of tobacco products. I can burn through a carton of Argentinian Marlboros in a week for $13, but when I visited Manhattan where they were $8 a might guess I curtailed my intake.

To-Do Lists. My mother rearranged and cleaned the house. That was her mania. Mine is making lists about rearranging and cleaning the house. Add to that things to get done, what needs bought, ingredients and plans. This is a mania to feed my other illness...procrastination. I hope to acknowledge this on a daily basis by getting up, not picking up a pen and paper, and just picking the first thing in my line of sight and FINISH THE TASK AT HAND. Quit being so scattered. A list is a wonderful thing if you make it for the purpose of not forgetting. But, I don't generally forget. This shit list just keep growing and rolling around in my brain, and at night in my dreams, and it undermines any productivity I might accomplish. I can make a list of 10 things to do, do two, and sit and admire my list. Such is my mania and illness of list making, chaos and procrastination.

...In other news and updates...I have one new cat. She is about 9-months old, and was just spayed last night. The vet, Daniella, dropped her off today. She's not happy right now, and misses her three-legged dog companion who has been her constant companion since Daniella rescued both. I'm not necessarily a cat person (cat toys, all that stuff) but I like this pretty, wild-striped cat. Daniella says she does not like to be indoors which will make her two days of recuperation a little uncomfortable for her. Right now she is resting in the crumples of an old sheet on the chair. No name yet. We have to wait until she tells us what her name is. How do you say "Rat Catcher" in Spanish?

That's all the news I care to divulge from Futalandia...the hydro project is an on-going fits and starts situation, and it's best I just announce "the LIGHTS ARE ON" in a post, instead of wasting keystrokes and emotions back and forth, up and down.


Laura said...

cazador de ratas says the Google translator...I'm not really a cat person either but we got a kitten for my son and even he left home, she was there. there is something very nice about a cat, curling up while you read. I too think about the prepared foods I ate in the states. Ok, sometimes I long for those awful frozen burritos that you microwave for 1 minute when you're tired. But this is much healthier. Here in central chile, although santiago would be quite different, the small farmers don't do pesticides either. I have learned to enjoy cooking more than i have in my entire life(mostly). Dinnertime has become an event(although that's hard when I'm exhausted).

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