Alice Waters + Wal-mart

We currently find ourselves in the season of Lent, the 40 46 days leading up to Easter, the day we celebrate the resurrected Christ. Lent is typically associated with fasting, although almsgiving and prayer are longstanding Lenten traditions as well.

For myself this year I decided to give up processed foods and to try and put good thought in to where my foodstuffs originate. I was heavily inspired by Alice Waters and her cookbook The Art of Simple Food. In this book, on the back cover she has written out her food rules. I made a poster to hang in my kitchen as a reminder of them.

To celebrate my newfound passion for slow, local, organic foods I decided to throw a dinner party. Tonight I’ll be making Carla Lalli Music’s Fat Noodles with Pan-Roasted Mushrooms and Crushed Herb Sauce and Alice Water’s Almond Cake.

I set out making my pre-dinner plan on Thursday. I wrote out my usual notes: to-do’s, what I need to buy, time table for cooking, house-work chores to be done before people come over.

At the top of my to-do list was farmer’s market. This was key to having a true Alice Water’s dinner party experience.

So, this morning (Saturday morning) Robbie and I headed out to our local farmer’s market. I was so excited to support local farmers and to stick to my Lenten Goals. Only, it was a dud. Winter is obviously a tough time for produce, and I knew that going in. I had thought to shop seasonally but other than some great mushrooms we were sorely let down by the pickings at the market.

No matter, I would go to a local health food market I had heard friends talk about. This would help me buy organic, avoid Whole Foods (another goal of mine after reading this article), and – I thought – avoid plastic and shop locally. This was not the case. This store was very well stocked, but the prices were insane — for products that still had plastic containers and didn’t come from anywhere local.

We walked out empty handed and I dropped Robbie off. I was headed to Wal-mart.

Frustratingly they didn’t have quite everything I needed, but they did have almost everything.

Would I go back to Wal-mart for my future Lenten shopping?

No probably not – but I do find the whole situation hilarious, and slightly infuriating.

Robbie and I had a great talk later as I was expressing my annoyance. He reminded me that I can’t singlehandedly fight corporations or avoid all plastic, some of that falls on the manufacturers. But I can control what I put in my body.

In order of importance, what I put in my body trumps where that food comes from. A good reminder for when I am feeling like I have to stick to a strict ideology.

It’s also just a great reminder of the futility of Lenten Fasting; the goal is not perfection, only to point out my imperfection and need of a savior.

No one, not even Alice Waters, could ever attain true perfection. As much as I’d like to live my life like Saint Waters, at my base I am a Wal-mart shopper.

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