Mark Bittman must have read my post on oatmeal last week (he must have, right? Why else would he be thinking about oatmeal?), because he’s written a surprising post about oatmeal at McDonald’s. Granted, it’s really, really hard for McDonald’s to do anything that surprises me – but would you have guessed that their version of oatmeal costs more than a double-cheeseburger, and has 21 ingredients to boot? Ok, I could have guessed that, but it’s disappointing. You would think they could at least make it cheap, if they don’t make it good. He explains in some detail why eating oatmeal from McDonalds will never be faster, cheaper, or healthier than making your own oatmeal at home… and I couldn’t agree more.
Also in the New York Times, Michael Tortorello tries to start a garden with foods from his kitchen. There are two “surprises” in this article that shouldn’t actually surprise you, if you think about it. The first is that a whole lot of foods in your kitchen – spices, beans, fruits – are basically seeds, and you could in theory plant a bunch of them and make them grow. (This is the same surprise I feel every time I open a seed packet of peas, beans, or dill: “Hey, this is the stuff I cook with!”)
Unfortunately, the second surprise is that most kitchen foods have been specially treated – irradiated, freeze-dried, etc – especially to keep them from sprouting and growing. Some of the fruit has even been bred to have tiny, non-viable seeds. That’s why you would bother to buy packets of seeds in the first place, instead of planting your spice collection in the ground: seeds are cared for so they’ll grow up to be plants; their kitchen counterparts are supposed to stay food as long as possible. It’s logical, because food producers don’t want their products to start sprouting when they meet moisture, but it does mean that the food we eat has been removed rather forcibly from its own lifecycle.
The best way to plant your garden from your kitchen, is if your kitchen came from your garden. Seed-saving is a big part of organic gardening and farming (though it’s too involved for me, with my tiny patio garden), and if you’re careful about how you grow your vegetables, you can in theory save their seeds for next year’s crop.
Have you ever tried saving seeds? What about planting food from your kitchen? I can’t say that I ever have.