That’s what I get. How about you?

An introduction to The Uniter‘s food issue

I have eaten it since I was a little boy. My mother cooked healthier meals during the week, but for lunch on Saturdays it was always Kraft Dinner.

I came to enjoy the variety of ways I could eat it: with ketchup, without ketchup, with wieners, without wieners, with ketchup and wieners, with wieners but without ketchup, with ketchup but without wieners. The combinations seemed endless.

When I got to my third year of university, I was living on my own and I could no longer depend of my mother’s regular cooking or the university’s meal plan.

Learning to cook nutritious meals became the sort of thing I always intended to do but never got around to. Between a full course load, extracurricular activities and part-time work, preparing anything more complicated than Kraft Dinner seemed like a waste of time.

More than once, I made two boxes at lunch so I could eat the leftovers for supper.

I once heard of some students who ate nothing but macaroni and cheese for an entire year. I think they may have gotten scurvy. But secretly, I’ve always admired them, and wanted to try it myself.

I don’t think I could make it, though. After a few days I’m pretty sure my stomach would complain and ask: “Where’s the frozen pizza? Where are the hamburgers?” So I’m content to eat it the usual two or three times a week.

I have graduated from university now and have more time on my hands, but my diet hasn’t really changed.

The will to cook is weak, and the call of Kraft Dinner is strong.

Boil the water, cook the noodles, drain the water, add the cheese, some margarine and milk, and stir.

I take solace in the routine, and at this point, it’s all muscle memory. Ten minutes and it’sdone. Who could argue with that?

I don’t really think about where the macaroni and the cheese – or any of my food, for that matter – comes from. It just hasn’t happened. The food’s there when I want it, and that’s good enough for me.

The only questions in my mind revolve around ketchup and wiener options.

Some may call mac and cheese “shit food,” but that’s what I get for being a shitty cook.

So God bless this bright orange cheese powder and these processed white noodles to the nourishment of my body.

For ever and ever.

Amen.

* * *

Food is something that all of us deal with every day. So, for The Uniter’s fifth theme issue of 2010/2011, we’ve decided to take a look at what we as a society put in our bodies.

The following issue includes articles on the environmental impact of hog production in Manitoba, as well as a primer on local organizations dedicated to food justice (both on page 3).

There’s an overview of how healthy Manitobans are (page 5), as well as comments pieces on everything from food justice, to why your order of French fries costs as much as it does, to a discussion about the renovations planned for the Paddlewheel restaurant in The Bay downtown (pages 8-9).

In arts and culture, you’ll find out what musicians Alexander McCowan and Yukon Blonde like to nosh on when they’re on the road (page 12), and we’ve reviewed Kimch’i, Desperado, and five of the best burgers downtown Winnipeg has to offer.

As always, we want to hear what you have to say. How much do you think about the food that you eat? Is eating locally-sourced food important to you? What’s your favourite restaurant in Winnipeg?

Leave a comment at www.uniter.ca, post on our wall on Facebook (www.tinyurl.com/TheUniter), or email editor@uniter.ca.

Bon appetit!

Published in Volume 65, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 24, 2011)

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