I readily admit that my family has always referred to me as “THE KOOK.” You see, I’m the only one who moved away from Beloved Illinois. I’m the only one who never had children. I’m the only vegetarian in our family. I’m the only one who thinks nothing of slapping a backpack on and flying off to some remote part of the world where I don’t understand the language don’t know a soul – usually without an advance reservation. And I’m the only one who passionately believes in alternative things like acupuncture, kinesiology and all forms of energy work, like Reiki (I am, in fact, a Reiki Master – but that’s another story).
As you may have gathered, Illinois is NOT my favorite place but, because my family is there and I love them dearly, I make the trek back to the Midwest every Christmas. This is always accompanied by a trip to the grocery store immediately upon arriving because none of them have anything in the house I can eat. My family’s idea of nutritious food is Iceberg lettuce – which, in addition to having no nutritional value whatsoever, tastes like cardboard. It’s not all their fault, though. Even the grocery stores in Illinois rarely have other varieties of lettuce in stock. So I endure a lot of ribbing about my annual quest for edible food.
Just the other day I learned that I am not suffering alone. My roommate, Joan, is away visiting her mother in Louisiana. Joan is perhaps even more passionate about healthy food than I am, and I could hear her frustration in a recent email:
The availability of fresh, healthy produce is quite limited here. Sure they have potatoes, onions and Iceberg lettuce, but try finding the 6 different kinds of sprouts I usually buy in Sarasota. No way! Amazing to see the size of the folks here. We went to a local restaurant for lunch yesterday. Most of the tables were filled with working men in mossy oak camouflage. I felt like I was in the land of giant hunters. Mom and I both ordered the crab cake appetizer and it was still over 1000 calories!
When I talked to her a few days later, Joan said she drove 40 miles to the next town to find mixed greens. When she came home her Mom asked why she’d bought more stuff for salad because there was a whole head of lettuce in the refrigerator. Iceberg lettuce. Joan summed it up pretty well: “They think it’s weird to eat mixed greens. They don’t think it’s weird to eat alligator and possum, though.”
There’s no moral to this story – just a reassurance for me that I’m not TOO much of a kook – and the comfort of realizing that I’m not the only one out there.