Soundtrack: Zap Mamma As Much As Possible
Eight years ago, on September 19, 2003, I gave up eating Fast Food. And I was a Fast Food junkie. I realized this one day when my brother said he was going out for food, and I responded, "Well, if you go to McDonald's, let me get a number seven with a raspberry iced tea, Burger King, a number one with bacon and cheese, and if you go to Wendy's, a number six with a fruit punch." This was a clear sign that my eating habits needed a revolution.
It happened while I was driving through what I refer to as "The Fast Food District" on Hillside Avenue, Queens, New York. This short four block strip includes a McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, White Castles, and Subways. This was one of those rare moments that so many thoughts come together that it appears as one seamless thought: "No More Fast Food!! Today I declare my independence." I hated the idea that I did not have the basic skill of bringing something recognizable from the earth through a process that would eventually contribute some semblance of sustenance to my body. I hated the feeling of being at the mercy of a multi-national, operation whose sole purpose was to ensure I stuffed their food products into my gullet to boast their corporate coffers. Both of my sisters were undergoing transformative (it's a word now spell check!!) nutritional changes, so I was already becoming aware of the food I was putting into my body everyday. Plus, I always had one of Dr. J's favorite lines, "Garbage In. Garbage Out," in my mind. Plus I had other bills, and I was convinced there had to be a cheaper way to feed myself than the value meal menu.
It was this day, all at once, that I decided to give up fast food. And I did. I cheated about half a dozen time in the first four or five years, but that was it, no more fast food: no more Big Macs, No more McNuggets, No more Whoppers, No more Chicken Tender Sandwiches, No more crispy delicious fries, no more apple pies.
It has been amazing what I have discovered since this time. I really enjoy several foods that I thought I disliked for no reason, like yummy avocado mashed up and spread on toast, or baba ganoush even though it was made of eggplant, or even eggs for that matter which I ate happily for the first time this summer when my good friend Miyo made an egg scramble with kale, feta cheese (also on the pre-independence food no-fly list), and cherry tomatoes. I also discovered a small Spanish restaurant that served a lunch special that was a delicious home-cooked, quality meal.
This moment taught me many things. One, you do not have to give your power away. You can make another choice. Two, make your own holidays if you don't like the ones that have been handed to you. Three, sometimes the road towards discovery is to give something else up. Four, Kale is the best food on earth.
Here's to a sovereignty that Wikipedia can't define - the one we each take for ourselves. Happy Independence Day. And Healthy Eating.
What are you claiming your independence from?
Shout Out to Jetsetter Jewels for expanding my life's palette, to Betsy B for homecooked meals, to Miyo for the delicious eggs, and to my sister, Almitra the Community Mogul for organizing the second annual Farmer's Blvd. Health Fair in our Queens neighborhood.