I sit, sipping my coffee, enjoying and thoroughly doubting myself. Do I really like coffee, or do I just like the sugar and cream in it?
Jerks on the internet got me questioning my beloved coffee. My life-force. My fuel since 15. My love, my hot cup of motivation, the beverage that spawned entire cafes and chains where I now work. My office, my very livelihood, limited though it may be, depends on it. And you're gonna make me question whether or not I love it? Just who do you think you are? How DARE --
Yeah ok. You might have a point, though. My father used to say that, if you took cream and sugar in your coffee, you were drinking a malted. I'm staring down the barrel of drinking the stuff black for a month, and now I'm wondering if I really love it as I say I do, or if I just love sipping sweet milk. That sounds disgusting.
This is all the Whole30's fault.
Yes, I've jumped aboard the bandwagon, late as usual. But here I am, ready to take the plunge and utterly terrified as everyone else was about a year ago. Hey, everyone! There's this thing? It's called...oh, you did it already? Oh. Cool. Ok. No no, don't tell me how it went. No spoilers.
So I'm sitting in the coffee shop, sipping what I think I love, I am preparing to go grocery shopping and give the final push that will shove my husband and I down the rabbit hole known as the Whole30. This clean eating plan is just another way of saying, "making everything from scratch like you're some kind of scavenger/60s housewife/depression era grandmother." If you don't know because none of your social media friends have taken tons of pictures their healthful meals, I will give you the short version. No sugar, no grains of any kind, no sweeteners of any kind, no legumes, no soy, no booze, no processed food, no carrageenan, no dairy, and lots and lots of veggies, fruits, and meat.
I've done plans like it before. I know it isn't an entirely sustainable way of life in its strictest form (because I'm a freelance actor/writer/mom and I don't hate myself that much), but I'm ok with that. I'm performing an experiment on myself and those I love...because I'm a monster. I'm more than mildly apprehensive of my chances of success, so I'm going to get through it the only way I know how: by mocking the process, the plan, me, and the entire enterprise and let people read it.
My reasons for doing it...well, no one cares. But you're gonna hear it anyway. I am in constant pain - my arthritis is in my neck, thumbs, pinky, shoulder, wrists, knees, toes, jaw...it's everydamnwhere. I want it to stop, and I am scared to see what another year older will do. While I need to be more active, it's hard to get motivated, when everything hurts and I have a five year old to keep up with and a knee replacement coming and oh God I'm gonna be in a Rascal by next year.
Also, I want my gut gone, but that's the superficial part I'm not supposed to care about or look at while I kickbox, but I'm vain AF - sorry.
So. Off I go. I have to meet a friend at 2:30 and it's 11. Let's go the hell to Whole Goddamned Foods.
I stand on the el platform, wondering who's great idea it was to turn off the heat lamps on April 1 every year. Like we have an actual warm spring in Chicago. Sadists.
I stand and shiver a while, obsessively checking my Ventra app, and it consistently says 1 minute. It lies. Finally, an announcement comes over the speaker letting us know that there was a passenger injured at Howard, and the train was delayed. Fine. I'm taking the bus.
Almost an hour later, I'm finally here. The wonderland that is Whole Foods is where produce goes to die if it's been very very good. Everything on my list requires me to wander in endless loops around the produce aisles like I'm new to the idea of shopping. I do it, and as I turn and double back a few times, I notice everyone else is doing the same thing. Either Whole Foods has a terrible layout, or we're all on our phones and not paying attention to what we're doing. I'm going with the latter.
And guess what? Whole Foods isn't stupid. They're a corporation, and they know when something is on trend. In other words, they know you're coming. From a mile away.
Once I have completed my task of obtaining ALL OF THE PRODUCE THEY HAVE - seriously, how is this not gonna go bad in like five seconds - I look down at my cart.
It's three-quarters of the way full with fruit and vegetables, and this is without plantains. Because they don't have them. I can buy them at the little market near my house, but Whole Foods was like, "planWHATnow? Dunno about that. Here's some yucca root." No. Just...no.
I now have to go to the fish and meat counters. My God, the slaughter is real. Ground beef, chicken breasts, brisket, pork butt, pork chops, chicken sausage (that doesn't have any sugar). I'm loading it all on top of the veggies, silently apologizing to the vegetables, the animals, and the butcher.
Oh. And I need soup bones. For bone broth.
Lemme back up a second. I understand the concept of bone broth. It's fucking stock, and I make it all the time. Making sure there are bones simmering among the roasted veggies and scraps in your stock is adding collagen to it, helping everything from joint pain to digestion to your hair and nails. But making something from scratch is new to a lot of folks, so this became a novelty when this plan exploded. Bone broth has been around a long time, but now you can buy boxes of it from Amazon, or you can buy a $35 powdered supplement version. For convenience, it also now comes in K-cups.
You can run bone broth. Through your coffee maker. And then drink it. After you drink it, you're just...supposed to...run your coffee through there as though it's gonna taste just fine now? I guess? It's probably fine. Trendy white folks love bone broth and they love coffee, so expect a Marrow Macchiato next fall at Starbucks.
I ask the butcher for soup bones, and he tells me he's out. You're...you're out? Do you see all this meat? Where did the rest of it go? How can you be out? I remember the spiralizer. The people wandering in circles. Dammit. They're all here for the same reason. They just cleaned the guy out...for bone broth. They're all planning on heading home, simmering carcasses, and sipping their essence in order to get their youth back. Curses. Looks like I'll be going to the small market for plantains and soup bones. I'm no better than they are. I'm no better.
And now that I've made sure all the evils of Big Ag can be traced back to me personally, I start on the dry goods. Dear God, it's 1:00. I have to get home. And I have to pee. And...other things. Oh, man. And passing a vat of Epic Lard over and over again is NOT helping things.
Once I've checked everything off that portion of my list, I look down at my cart again.
Fuck. Fuckitty. This is for a WEEK? NO IT CANNOT BE THIS WAY. No. Some of this will last longer than that, right? RIGHT? Oh boy. I make my way to the checkout, and notice it's already 1:40. I ask the cashier if he's ever had anyone throw up when the total is announced. Or pass out. Or ask to hold someone's hand. He kind of smiles, wondering what the hell I'm doing in Whole Paycheck if I'm worried about cost. I mean, if you have to ask...
I get the total. I cry a little bit, and silently apologize again. This time, it's to my daughter. Sorry for all the birthday presents I'm literally going to poop out because this is where that money went. But mommy can play with you now! Because this has given her superpowers! Where are you going?
I get home, drop all the groceries and run for the bathroom. I think that this won't be the last time that trip is so urgent.
I put away the food, realizing that this plan is most definitely made for wealthy folks with huge refrigerators and digitalized crispers, and probably one of those deep freezer drawers. I am not this person. Our refrigerator is now stuffed to the gills with green. Not a bad thing, really. But it's so...perishable. So delicate. I worry about its health in my regular-person fridge.
I shower and head out to meet my friend. I drink three delicious beers. Because, dammit, I can. For now.