Walking through the McDonald's parking lot to have dinner and see "DIRT" at Sweet Home Waimanalo this week lead to an intriguing flashback for me. In addition, I was struck by several realizations.
Ten years ago, I visited O'ahu with a group of my teacher coworkers from Lana'i. We went on an early morning cruise around the island and stopped at the Waimanalo McDonald's for breakfast. I remember reveling in the foods that would only be found in Hawaii McDonald's, like Spam and eggs, haupia pies, banana shakes and more. I was blown away by this, thinking how cool it was to be eating local foodstuffs at McDonald's.
In the decade since leaving Lana'i, filmmaker Morgan Spurlock unleashed "Supersize Me," which led me to stop eating both McDonald's and most other fast food. No, it wasn't cold turkey. Often times, fast food was the only option for breakfast as I was zipping out of town to go to work or meals on the road to speech tournaments. But even those trips became further between. Still, the idea of eating what I perceived to be "local" flavors in fast foods restaurants intrigued me.
I feel really stupid talking about food. Having spent most of my life eating processed and fast foods, I feel totally lost in conversations about growing foods, composting and cooking. In in a nutshell: I'm vaguely aware that my apartment has a room known as "The Kitchen." I've always hated cooking for one and being stuck eating the same leftover crap for meals on end.
While I've often heard of "Permaculture," after listening to Matt Lynch of The Green Backpack, I started to have a better understanding of what this really entails. Of course, I'm starting to think this would be way easier if I was living in a communal environment. I always loved going to board of directors retreats with COLAGE because we lived communally, allowing neophytes like me to better understand organic cooking, eating and even cleaning (long story).
Walking back through the Waimanalo McDonald's parking lot to get to my car that night, all I could think of was the stark contrast between what is sold to the masses as local foods and what I'd had for dinner at SHW (vegan curry with a side of greens grown on the SHW's rooftop.) I feel healthier, more clear-headed and energized than when I eat greasy, fried fast foods which often leave me feeling queasy afterward.
But I only know that because I've spent so much time working on detoxing from eating processed foods. Had I eaten at a restaurant like Sweet Home Waimanalo ten years ago, I'm not sure I would've been able to appreciate how different I felt after the meal. And I want to learn more about permaculture, especially because the folks I met who practice it seemed so much younger and healthier than many of us in the room.
The learning continues.