An inconvenient food 5

Iced tea is one of the simplest and least expensive beverages to make. I’m getting ready to make some because it is a scorcher outside and I want something different than water which makes up about 70% of my liquid refreshment.

Although I could purchase prepared tea – some brand named Turkey Hill has been running a lot of commescials recently about how good and convenient their bottled tea is – I’ll be making my own.  To make ice tea I brew a few tea bags in boiling water, add sugar (no Splenda or other sugar substitutes for me), add cold water, stir, chill or pour over ice cubes. (I dig the sound of the ice crackling as hot liquid and cold cube meet.)  It costs pennies to make per serving.  Why buy bottled?

Now, you can fancy tea up with mint or garnish with lemon or mix in fruit juice or berries or whatever your pleasure.  Some people make solar tea by leaving water and tea bags in a special jar in the sun thereby using no-cost energy.  Again, whatever your pleasure, go for it.

This whole tea thing got me to thinking about convenience foods.  I mean how lazy can we be?  One of my biggest pet-peeves in the “convenience” foods category is the pre-packaged, prepared peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I just don’t believe they taste as good as a freshly-prepared sandwich and I further don’t believe that anyone is that busy that they can’t prepare this simplest of sandwiches themselves…or, better yet, teach their children to prepare it.  PB&J is one of the first sandwiches children learn to make on their own giving them an incredible feeling of independence.

That brings me to “luncheables.”  What-ables?  Why?  They are much more expensive than packing, or, once again, having your children pack some crackers, some cheese and some lunch meat in a container and take to school.  What about the additional packaging wasted on such single-serve products?

I was buying feta cheese to have on hand for the numerous salads we eat in the summer when I saw pre-crumbled feta cheese packages.  I read the ingredient list on the side of the package and saw that there was something (I don’t remember what) added to keep the cheese crumbles separate.  The crumbles didn’t look like the crumbles I create when I break off a hunk of feta and crumble over my salad or other dish.

I could go on and on about these types of conveniences and their costs.  Another that doesn’t make sense to me is shredded carrots. It takes but a few seconds to shred a carrot or peel lacy strips of it with a peeler.

A few years back, I saw a woman who’d lost a lot of weight.  She said that she realized she’d become too lazy to peel an orange or grapefruit; that it was easier to rip open a package of chips.  Hearing her say that was like a slap in my face, for I, too, would pass on fruit sometimes because of the perceived effort involved to prepare some to eat.

Many of the things we’ve come to rely on as short-cuts in fact have long-term impact in terms of money, environmental impact, usurping of independence, energy costs, etc.  On my short walk this morning (1 hour versus the 2 hour walk yesterday), I realized that unlike exercise machines there is no way to cheat when walking.  Your feet will walk every step on however many miles/minutes you walk.  The hills do not recede and you cannot lessen the effort.  Nor do you have to pay anyone else for the privilege.

So many food commercials keep blasting the message “too busy to cook” and “easy convienience.”  We have been sold this concept relentlessly.  I don’t think I’m being curmudgeonly with these comments.  I just think we have to get a grip and learn/return to doing certain things from beginning to end.  Who deserves a special glass of iced tea prepared lovingly by you for you more than…You!?

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

5 thoughts on “An inconvenient food

  • Jim

    Another Iced Tea Recipe:
    Half Gallon of cold water on the stove top with
    10 tea bags in it.
    Bring to a boil and turn it off.
    Let steep for 1 hour.
    Stir in 3 tablespoons sugar.
    Chill in the fridge.
    Never bitter, always delicious.

    Lightly sweetened, add a slice of lemon, or not.

    For a variation replace two tea bags of regular tea with mint tea or any other flavor.

    I speak from first hand experience, people are doing these things again! We are not past hope, our cultural memory is strong and deep and contains the roots of recovery from our long addiction to quick, fast, easy, now.

  • Ekua

    Hey Candelaria, I grew up on Iced tea. Until recently I hadn’t considered that it was one of those things my mother did to stretch the budget. I just loved it and now serve it all summer. My son makes it too and experiments with mixtures of herbal teas.

    My pet peeve is microwave popcorn. Why pay so much more for a snack that you can make yourself for less than a quarter. And you can control the amount of salt and butter yourself for a healthier end product. Not only that, but I’ve heard that the powdered butter-like substance used in the microwave version is a health hazard to many of the factory workers that make this product.

    I’m just not that busy that i can’t do this myself. If I ever find that I am, I will make some changes.

    Have a great summer.

  • Candelaria

    Thanks for your comments. I am going to try the tea recipe. I agree about the popcorn.

  • LeeAnn

    OH Oh OH!! I love that sound of the ice crackling after hot water is poured over! My dad taught me to make iced tea :) I still use the same pitcher that he used when I was a kid. So cheap! So little effort. You’re absolutely right, we do so many things now in a lazy way – and it costs us money and the loss of our bodies…and our hearts. My daughter had those silly PBJ sandwiches when I visited last and it hated it! Much more fun to chat with the grandson while I spread the peanut butter…and making a cup of tea for friendly guests is just not the same as reaching and handing them a bottle (which must then be disposed of). But I dunno…I’m kinda stuck on that bag of salad….you’ve inspired me to get past that!

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