My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Herb's Salad

Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. And although fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients, they also contain relatively few calories. Foods with high energy density, meaning they pack the most calories per gram, included candy, pastries, baked goods, and snacks. The findings, reported in the Dec. 2007 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups.

People don’t knowingly shop for calories per se, the data shows that it is easier for low-income people to sustain themselves on junk food rather than fruits and vegetables. And the problem compounds when you realize that it is easier to overeat on junk food because it tastes good and because eaters often must consume a greater volume in order to feel satisfied. Still, even those who consume twice as much in junk food calories are still spending far less than healthy eaters.

If you only have a couple dollars to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar; not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods. This is why I thought that I would make an appeal for one of the greatest staples of the American diet.

We as Americans love our salads. We have taken what has been a side dish around the world and created so many variations that a salad is now the standard at almost ever restaurant and dining room in America. I have recently rediscovered my love of salads and had forgotten how flexible they are. Each night we cut up any vegetables in the garden or fridge and dump them all into one bowl. This has led to what is generally known as our house Garbage Salad.

The latest incarnation of our daily dinner salad is the Herb’s Salad. It is your basic Garbage Salad with whole herbs from the garden thrown in on top. It is amazing what full leaves of basil, oregano, thyme, cilantro, parsley, and beet leaves (very tasty) can add to the smell and flavor of the salad. Our salads are now at the point where they don’t need a dressing.

Pictured below is the salad from last night. It is a combination of banana peppers, cucumber, tomato, red and orange peppers, whole basil leaves, red onions, cilantro leaves, white onions, oregano leaves, beat leaves, avocado, and two kinds of lettuce. The total effect is one of a large course with the meal. Moreover, a salad like this can be coupled with just about any amount of meat to make a complete meal.

The best part of the salad pictured above is that its total price was $6.89 and fed five people (along with the main course of chicken). The reason it was so cheap is because a healthy portion of it was grown, in pots, on our back porch. The total cost of soil, pots, seeds or plants, and water is estimated at $21.55. Almost a hundred salads (or other sides, snacks, or ingredients to other items) can be harvested from that original investment.

So as the cost of healthy foods increases, we need to learn to offset it while still maintaining a nourishing and wholesome diet. Supplementing expensive healthy food with something as versatile as a salad is not only a wise idea, it may be the best idea while still staying relatively cheap. Good food doesn’t need to be a treated as a luxury - no matter how good it may be.

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