Tonight was our “Looking Forward To It” dinner meal – meatloaf with ketchup/brown sugar glaze, mashed potatoes and fresh steamed broccoli. The excitement? It had to be the meat! And also the fresh vegetables. But mostly the meat – the portion sizes, the density, the amount of chewing. It was all so satisfying. Don’t get me wrong – our meat based dinners have been heartily welcomed after carb-heavy breakfasts and lunches. Roast chicken with potatoes was fine, chicken soup with homemade noodles and carrots was warm and tasty, even the frozen sausage and pepperoni pizza dinner filled a need (mostly, the need to eat quickly without a whole lot of prep). The essence of meat however was fleeting. None of these meals offered the same delectable sensation as tonight’s hunk of meatloaf. This week, after years of silence in the shadows, Meatloaf reigned as King.
So why did I have such a visceral reaction? I like meat, sure, but I'm not Mr. Carnivore. Is it all about the dynamic duo of protein and fat? Didn’t I get that with the beans-rice-cheese dinner? Maybe not enough, or maybe not the right combination?
The SNAP Challenge has opened my eyes to this fact about myself – despite 16 years of education and the resulting college degree, I don’t know very much about the general topics of basic nutrition, basic food chemistry, basic human biology. Without an understanding of those fundamentals, how could I make prudent decisions about the best combinations of food for my health with my limited weekly SNAP allowance? Why don’t I have that knowledge? Where would I expect to get it? And most importantly, who wouldn’t want me to have it? What would change if I and millions had this education?
This is where it gets all Matrix-y for me, to pull a reference from pop culture: I look around at our society, culture, norms, values, institutions, economic models, and government, and for a brief second, like Nero, I think I see and I think I don’t like what I see. “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you,” said the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
For me, I see the SNAP Challenge as just the above-water tip of the iceberg.
Thank goodness for Open Arms and all the other organizations and individuals who have looked and not shirked from what they saw.