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Making our own choices

March 1, 2008 - Kathie Evanoff
Murphy is one of my dogs and she loves snow. Me, not so much.

She can stay outside for hours when the temperatures are well below freezing. I, on the other hand, grumble when I have to leave the house. Murphy sleeps on the cold tile floor while I am encased in sweatshirts and sweaters. The reason for her ability to co-exist with winter is most likely good breeding.

Murphy’s ancestors were born and raised in the coldest parts of Canada. She, like her parents and grandparents, has a thick double coat that is hard-pressed to be permeated by anything. Snow and rain run off her back never able to get below her coat to her skin. She often comes inside covered with a coat of white fluff on top of her furry coat. If she doesn’t have it on her back, it’s on her nose because she was most likely burrowing for who knows what as far beneath the snow as she can reach.

But she can adapt quite well to the summer months too. She loves following me to the garden, although she is banished from inside the actual garden gate due to her giant, webbed feet and their danger of stomping on tender plants. Her favorite thing to do in summer is play in the hose and walk around beneath the sprinkler.

You must be asking yourself what Murphy has to do with food, other than she eats a lot of it. Murphy is a dog and dogs are primarily carnivores, although they do eat some vegetables, but those are mostly forced on them through their food. Sometimes she chews on grass if she has a stomachache or if she is just bored. But basically, she eats what I give her without question and without having much of a choice.

Humans are similar in this respect. We are basically slaves to food manufacturers who fill our grocery store shelves with the selections they want us to make. We are influenced by their television commercials that entice us with close-up shots of gooey cheese and juicy burgers.

But unlike Murphy, we do have a choice. We don’t have to buy processed packaged food filled with a list of ingredients we can’t pronounce, let alone begin to know what they are and where they came from. We don’t have to stop at fast food restaurants and order chicken pieces that have more ingredients than chicken should. The fact is that many people take more time planning their television watching schedule than they take planning the food that goes into their bodies.

Maybe we should rethink our priorities.

Friday was downward day for the week and by the time it got here, I was ready for the weekend. In the morning for a couple hours, I met with Master Gardeners from five counties in northeast Ohio to talk about the state convention being held in Trumbull County in October. We discussed our program schedule for a day of workshops and training classes to be held at Kent State Trumbull Campus. The downside is that as a member of the committee, I will be working the conference on those days and may not get to hear any of the excellent speakers we hope to iprocure for the conference.

I started the day with my usual oatmeal before going to Niles first to tie up some important things that needed done early. But was at the meeting at Trumbull Campus in time for lunch, which was served by members of the committee. We had Caesar salad with dressing, homemade potato soup, fruit, breadsticks, deviled eggs and a choice of several muffins, cookies and other breads. I knew I would be snacking later that night at my neighbor’s house, so I skipped the muffins and cookies and opted for a half slice of a dense pumpkin bread. It wasn’t too sweet and gave me enough of a cake texture that I didn’t feel deprived.

After the meeting I went back to Niles to finish my work for the day. There was no time for an afternoon snack, but when I got home, my husband had made a nice pot of chicken noodle soup. His version has carrots and potatoes as well as noodles and was full of flavor. I had a bowl along with two slices of whole grain nut bread.

Later in the evening at my neighbor’s, I snacked on a chicken-cheese dip with tortilla chips, fruit salad, one cookie and a cup of tea with sugar. Like Murphy, I didn’t have much choice in my lunch or my snack later. I ate what I was given, although I didn’t have to eat anything at all. But I chose to have it and kept my portions small enough that I didn’t overdo.


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Breakfast (not shown) and lunch: 2 grains; 1 ½ milk; 2 ounces meat; 3 ½ tsps. oils; 1 cup fruit; 1 ½ cups vegetables; 50 discretionary calories