Gerard’s Blog: A Question of Compromise

I’ve been away for a bit.  Living the life of the normal mass of humanity.  Eating salt and sugar and chocolate and coffee and bread.  Lots of bread and pastry.  Relishing in croissants, light and fluffy, laced in butter (the salted type please!).  Cereals for breakfast.  Taking full advantage of the utility of commercial stores, buying food and consuming food while on the move.  Rediscovering the sheer decadence of  grabbing an ice-cream bar when a bit peckish on the road, marveling at not having to peel a potato and watch it boil as the stomach growls in wanton anticipation.

Sometimes we wonder about human progress.  We wonder about the cost of convenience, about skills that have been abandoned, then lost.  We marvel at the rise of dough in a pan or the conversion of agitated milk into butter.  We love to see fresh garden shoots, sprouting from inert seed to vibrant life, made possible with the magical combination of dirt, sun, soil and water. 

It is easy to sentimentally linger in the past, easy to feel that we have become disconnected from the entanglement of chemistry which defines life. But the human quest for convenience is not a recent event.  We have always strived to make life more comfortable, to anticipate future needs and to mitigate risks.  Thus, societies were born, and dependence on agriculture offered more predictability than the nomadic life of the hunter/gatherer.  To grow, harvest and store food with increasing efficiency is to be human.

So, it is no surprise that we have evolved into our current state, where food is  processed, packaged and shipped prodigiously.  And while we can all agree that this process allows for some nutrient loss as well as the addition of some unwanted preservatives and additives, we cannot deny the necessity.  We can’t all go shoot a moose.  Nor can most of us grow and store our own food, regardless of how good it tastes or how nutritious it might be.

So, modern life must be about compromise.  Be attentive to our food and make the most practical and healthy choices we can.  Enjoy our indulgences but try to keep them infrequent enough such that we do not suffer from the health consequences that so often accompany them. And did I mention that adding a few spruce tips to a mug of boiled water is a pleasant drink with which to start the day? .

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