Friday, September 20, 2013

Life and thoughts from "Mound City."

I live in Seattle, Washington. I was born near St. Louis, Missouri, and spent most of my formative years there abouts. This past (long) weekend I took my oldest son to the "Rome of the West" specifically to go to his first Cardinals game, his first fishing trip, and generally to spend time with my family in the space where I developed.
The first thing I noticed being home was bad food. Not that Seattle doesn't have the king, the clown and the colonel, it surely does. They do a fair business. But the degree to which I was unable to get quality food was pretty shocking. Here I shop at a local supermarket  occasionally I'll go to the local co-op or Whole foods, but those places are expensive and out of my way. I can still buy grass-fed beef and Dairy, pastured pork, and of course quality produce. With the exception of canned tomatoes, and sardines I generally don't go into the aisles at all. I don't need to. The rim of the store is meat, fish, produce, and dairy.
I decided to stock up on some provisions for our stay on the afternoon of day two. I went to the store recommended by my mother that "has a big organic and natural food section." I grabbed my basket and headed down the back side of the store. Dairy. No grass-fed dairy at all in the dairy section. No butter, no milk. I found some reasonable eggs, and I would later find grass fed butter in the specialty cheese section. Then, I walked lengthwise down the end of the store looking at all the meat in shiny plastic. Zero grass-fed, nothing pastured, all grain fed feedlot beef/pork/poultry. This is not an urban grocery. This is pastoral Missouri. With a rock and knife, I could have walked out of that store, across the parking lot and down a ways and procured some grass fed beef.. the hard way, but not in the store. Which makes no sense. This is a regional purveyor. This isn't Wal-mart. They could (and should) be getting products locally to support people who will in turn be spending those dollars in their stores in turn.  
As I turned the corner towards what I expected to be the produce section, was shocked to see not fresh fruits and vegetables, but an enormous section of processed junk food. Pre-packaged pasta salads, Sandwiches, fake "bbq" boiled in sickly sweet corn syrup and ketchup sauce.  
When I was a kid this kind of thing would take up about a 5 foot section of the cooler at the end of the dairy aisle. It was only patronized by that one aunt who can't cook, but feels the need to bring something to the family gathering any way. There would be macaroni salad, potato salad and maybe a few sandwiches. No one really ever ate that stuff, and certainly not every week.
By the time I was in high school, there was a small salad bar featuring this kind of processed "food." For convenience, in lieu of the occasional fast food meal. Folks would grab some ground beef, buns, make a salad and maybe a small container of pasta salad, and that'd be dinner. Not ideal, but arguably better than the king or the clown.
Last weekend, a full 1/2 of what should have been the produce section was processed junk.  I wandered through and marveled at the bright packages. Everything was white flour, canola oil, corn syrup in some combination. I thought, "this is it. This is the reason 1/3 of the adult population of this country are obese." I was horrified.
The produce section was small probably 1/3 of the size of a comparably sized store in the northwest. This can partially be explained by the differences in cultural diversity, but I would only expect that to shrink it to 3/4.. maybe.. if I'm being generous. I bought some grapes, and some other fruit. Then I remembered. The organic section. Maybe I'm just not looking in the right place!
Cue sad trombone.

There was indeed an isle (both sides) of organic food. 1/4 of that was a freezer case consisting mostly of organic vegan T.V. dinners. a full 1/2 was organic chocolate, soda, protein powders, potions, bars and other "fitness foods." 1/8 was organic grains of all sorts. The last 1/8? Organic soap and toiletries. Zero food that one should eat.
Yeck.. well after that big bag of fail. The rest of the weekend was fantastic.
Random thoughts:

You can never have enough stuff for a kid to do while traveling. Hold back the big guns for the way home.

The Magic house is truly awesome. Hell, it was great when I was a kid and it was a fifth the size. The grizzly loved it and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

We ate a lot of good barbecue. Which made me eager to up my game, but also made me confidant that I make some damn fine smoked meat.

The grizzly, true to his name, is an excellent fisherman. At just over 3 years old he reeled in a pretty respectable small mouth bass. He wanted to touch it, but wanted no part of holding it.

Tired kids do some bizarre sh!t.

Ballpark peanuts are delicious.

The St. Louis Cardinal baseball is an experience. If you love baseball, you should go to a game at Busch.

One's first ballgame should be a big deal. Ideally experienced with one's father and grandfather.

Taking a 3 year old out to dinner after a daytime ballgame is a dicey proposition.

You can't count on the weather in Missouri.

Tired kids, they do some bizarre sh!t.

It may surprise you who can be a pretty good grandparent.

It was a great, and wonderful, and surprising and frustrating weekend that pretty much went 100% to plan. I hope that I never forget it. I hope that the grizzly never does either. I like this dad stuff, even though I fail at it every day.

Whenever you leave behind failure, that means you're doing better.
If you think everything you've done is great, you're probably dumb.
-Louis CK


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