Organic Living in SWFL

I’ve become pretty damn good at eating while traveling; so why not kick it up a notch and take this show off the road and into the sky!

After my frustrating day Monday I arrived at the airport Tuesday at 6am with a Cliff bar and 2 TJ’s fruit snacks stuffed down in the bottom of my carry-on (thanks to the TSA’s website letting me know I was not allowed to bring my own food through security).  I held up an orange and banana to the TSA guy and he cheerfully said “Oh yes, you can bring all the food you want, just no liquid!”  Thanks.  I don’t know why I second guessed myself with that!  Grrr!

Landed at 2:00 and we went to The Elephant Bar for lunch.  I’m not a drinker but when on vacation, forget it!  I want a rum drink in my hand at all times (which has always led to a cigarette but more on that later).  So I ordered a rum runner without much hesitation, quick thought crossed my mind but it was trumped by the logic that I am about to eat some undoubtedly inorganic food so why not wash it down with some [assumingly] GMO rum mixed with HFCS?  I ordered the tomato, basil, avocado and mozzarella salad which is what I thought to be the best choice on the menu – and what a menu it was!  I wanted sooooo much more but the thought of eating CAFO cows or big breasted chickens who stumbled around in their own feces the entire 6-7 weeks it took to ‘grow’ turned my stomach.  So vegetables (even big fat GMO tomatoes and pesticide sprayed basil) it is!  And I just enjoyed the cheese without thinking about where it came from (which now that I do think about it, I have a vision of a cow shitting out a mozzarella ball LOL).  Covered with some sort of GMO oil – Mmm’Mmmm!!

Back at the house I did a quick look through the kitchen – I have to say, even as a kid I never felt like there was anything to eat in the house.  My mother cooked meals.  You didn’t look in the cupboard and say “Hey, I want that!”; you had to have creativity, you had to envision the ingredients as a dish and then make it happen.  I ate a lot of cereal as a kid 😛

At dinner time we decided on left-over kale, sweet potatoes and chicken on the grill.

~ The kale (which was said to be organic) was great because I don’t cook kale (other than in a soup) and I know it is really good for me so I was happy to learn a [new] way to cook it (she cut out the veins and cut into small pieces, put 2 tbsps of soy sauce and a little water in a saucepan and cooked it for like 3 minutes until it wilted).  You know I was all over that soy sauce bottle!  As I pulled the bottle out of the fridge and turned it around my mother said, “IT’S ONLY 1 TBSP!”.  I wasn’t not going to eat it on a count of a tbsp (or 2 like we now know!) but I was just curious.  I ate it and wasn’t crazy about it, I blame it on the taste of the soy sauce (I don’t know if it is because the crap in it or that I would’ve rather had it plain).

~The sweet potatoes were surely organic but, too late, I noticed my mother spraying the pan with “Connola Oil SPray”; she informed me she was using non-organic spices which I approved, she never mentioned pan coating.  I frowned and notified her that PAM makes an organic.  The potatoes tasted like GMO’s.  Seriously!  I don’t know if I can taste GMO’s but I didn’t enjoy the taste of the spray (I felt like that’s all I could taste, I assume it is because of the ‘fake factor’ because I use cooking spray all the time).

~ The chicken was ‘organic’ (I am using quotations because I was assured that all the meat my parents eat is organic and I believed it….until just this second when I realized they buy their meats at Whole Foods at the meat counter and we know WF doesn’t sell organic meats at the counter.  Oh well, at least it was from WF’s…) and marinated in Organic Valley marinade, cooked on the grill.

The next day we went to see about some misc. food shopping.  We stopped at Back To Nature which is a small store with produce, dry goods, supplements and other neat natural finds.  My mother told me the owner follows a raw food diet and has classes on the subject.   We struck out with the produce, it was looking pretty sad.  We did get a couple of items and then we went to Sweet Bay.  The organics in Sweet Bay are arranged together in each aisle and marked “ORGANIC/NATURAL”.  I liked this idea at first (as our supermarkets have a natural section but they still keep some organic items only with their conventional siblings so you have to search the entire store) however it quickly became disappointing because the selection was very small.  I also was appalled at their produce prices!  2 green peppers were $6.99!  So we got what we could and went back to Back to Nature for peppers (luckily they had just received a fresh produce order), Cliff Bars, and breadcrumbs.  I wasn’t able to make it to Fresh Market or the Whole Foods in Naples; I wanted to but I just didn’t have it in me – this was a vacation after all!

A few weeks ago my sister-in-law hit everyone up for Girl Scout Cookies, my favorite time of year!  I knew I didn’t want a box but I wanted to order my normal two for my niece so I decided to have my order shipped to my grandmother to save me the temptation.  Well wouldn’t you know, that shipment of cookies arrived in Florida while I was there!  And not just my order but my parents’ 8 boxes (it might have been 6 but really, does it matter at that point??)  Anyway, between the order and the delivery my grandmother’s doctor warned her about her sugar level and it has become a bit of a struggle so I decided not to give her the cookies… I ended up eating 1.5 peanut butter patties and 1 peanut butter sandwich.  I’m okay with that, considering how many I really wanted to eat!  Cravings for that stuff have pretty much disappeared but GSCs are sooooo yummy and the fact you can only get them once/year adds to the want factor!

I did some more online searching for organic eating in the area as I knew it was only a matter of time before I was asked again about eating out.  I found a few places but really there were only two that had organic food (the rest were vegan or had gluten-free menus); one was a pizza place and the other an ice cream shop.  Not exactly what I was looking for but the ice cream was a bonus as that is another favorite thing for our family.   We were coming home from the beach one afternoon and we were headed to pickup my grandmother and go to bingo for a few hours (this is what makes this diet hard, being on the go for more than one meal is really tough!).  Luckily we had the pizza place on the way so I called to ask my questions and was delighted to hear their answers – everything from the dough to the toppings was organic!  (I assume not the meats but I forgot to ask that!)  We ordered a pepper, onion and mushrooms and a Hawaiian (which had bacon instead of ham), they were both very good!   The inside of the place was clean and fun and they had a frosted stripe running the length of the bar for your beer!  They also deliver there pizzas in a Prius!  I’m happy places like Pizza Fusion are out there and I pray they stay in business!!

There were two beach days were we ate at the pool bar; on each of those days I had a rum drink and a piece of grouper.  The first day I picked at the salad and dipped my fork into the salad dressing to flavor my fish.  The second day I ordered my plate without the salad and got the fish blackened.  I didn’t ask any questions about how the fish was prepared so I don’t know if there was butter or oil or anything, I just ate it.  Did I mention I hate fish?  Hahaha It’s growing on me.  We had fish one other night, this was a fish my father caught and I let my mother prepared however she wanted (I know there was organic butter and we had bought organic PAM so other than the spices, I’m pretty sure everything was okay).

We threw a cocktail party one night as well.  My mother did a great job of thinking of me and what I could eat during the party, however she is still getting used to checking labels so the organic corn chips were found to only be ‘made with organic corn’.  There were Kettle Brand chips (not organic but they advertise non-GMO ingredients!), Applewood ham wrapped around organic cream cheese, Food Should Be Good tortilla chips with organic salsa, and someone made up an organic vegetable platter (“How can she afford to eat organic?!” was what she asked my mother after she shopped for the veggies – it’s not easy there and I am not even sure I could make it happen if I lived there!).  I drank my organic juice with rum and happily ran back and forth to retrieve bags to read ingredients to people as they surprisingly enjoyed all the organic food – they knew it was organic because I made little flags saying “I’M ORGANIC” so they would know 🙂

I probably should have focused more on putting some of that food into my body as I woke up the next morning with a hangover 😦  Luckily it was a dreary day so we hung around and tried to salvage what we could of the afternoon/evening.  We decided to visit my grandmother one last time and take her to play bingo; great idea but the logistics were ridiculous!  We just couldn’t get on the same page and couldn’t get a plan together to save our lives! Needless to say I was hungry (the whole day).  My mother was really wanting to eat out, after all the work she did on the party and clean up and helping me nurse my hangover, she deserved someone else to cook and clean for her.  I was willing to cook and clean but she wouldn’t be able to sit and watch and I’m sure that’s why she wanted to go out.  I didn’t say no but you know I was looking for every other possibility!  We had to make a quick stop back at the house for something and I took the opportunity to pack a cooler as full as I could!  We were out the door and I was happily eating my food while everyone else got chicken sandwiches and french fries at the bingo hall.  I realized I haven’t eaten a french fry in almost a year!!

There are a few other things I want to tell you about but this post is long enough so I will some other day.  (Just as a reminder to myself: Mom checking labels, Dad’s portions, White Oak Pastures, Eco Farms, Cool Hand Luc’s)

My vacation was great, I had a lot of fun and we fit a lot into that week!  Most importantly, food was not a stress factor!  Thank goodness because now I am home and my bare kitchen is a stark reminder that vacation is over and it’s back to reality.  Whole Foods, here I come.  :/

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