Eating healthier takes toll on wallet and, alas, marigolds


Doug Gardner


By Doug Gardner

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Since retiring two and a half years ago, I've realized I need to step up my game in the kitchen.

Diana, my Realtor wife, is still in the work force, laboring six to seven days a week. She reminds me that she's bringing home the bacon.

Please don't say that, dear; bacon is full of nitrates and other carcinogens.

While she slept, I found myself poring through this month's edition of “Good Housekeeping,” looking at 40 pages of the magazine's Summer Healthy Eating Guide. I can do this, I told myself, looking at the chicken and red plum salad and the razzle dazzle smoothie; summoning up the positivity of Zig Ziglar and Norman Vincent Peale.

Later that morning, I was at Food Lion, Good Housekeeping rolled up under my arm like some eighth-grader taking “Playboy” to the playground. I didn't want any of my Regular Guy friends to spot me.

Once inside, I quickly found the organic raspberries for the smoothie. What a steal at $14 a pound! Despite a third of a century counselling financial prudence to my investing clients, I bought the berries anyway. Food Lion also carries jicama, yucca root (my neighbor just hired somebody to dig them out of his yard and burn them.), escarole, endive, bok choy and hydroponic lettuce. This last item looked like some disembodied, furrowed brain in a hazmat box. Or maybe a hat left over from Derby Day.

Nowhere could I find watercress, a crucial ingredient of the roast beef baguette on page 90. At the local organic market a few blocks away, they had all kinds of funny looking fruits and vegetables, but no watercress. There were hushed whisperings among the staff that a supplier might show up with some in a week. Easier to score a few grams of cocaine than a bunch of watercress in our town, I thought. It didn't look unusual, sort of like the stuff fishermen scrape off the bottom of their boats after they've spent the day trolling for bass in the backwaters of Newbegun Creek.

I had everything else, carrying it into the house with one arm. For the same money I could have bought a 55-gallon drum of Pepsi with enough sugar and calories to fuel a roomful of kindergarteners for 16 hours.

That's one of the things I noticed about health foods: the price seems to be inversely proportional to the calories purchased. The clerk informed me that the organic raspberries don't have chemicals. You mean I don't even get the chemicals when I pay $14 a pound? Another thing is that the only people who can afford this stuff appear to be Republican one percenters or affluent liberals toting reusable canvas bags.

The proletarians are at the center of the store with the calorie-dense chips, Wing Dings, juices and other junk food. More calories for the dollar there.

I decided to try the razzle dazzle smoothie first, since it didn't involve any actual cooking. The dog looked on expectantly, so I gave her a dollop. Growling, she retreated to the office. Gardner canines offer a pretty low culinary hurdle, so this was not encouraging. Her predecessors have been known to make a snack out of things mined from the kitty litter box.

I tried the razzle dazzle, but was not dazzled myself, dumping the remainder in the marigolds on the deck.

At breakfast the next morning, Diana gasped and demanded to know who killed her flowers. While she was in marigold mourning, the dog and I shared a glance. I swear the mutt winked at me.

It’ll be our little secret.

Doug Gardner is a resident of the Weeksville section of Pasquotank County.