The Clean Hippie

Seeking the sustainable life in New York City

Food for thought – In Defense of Food August 30, 2009

Filed under: Food,green angst,Moments of hilarity — Alden @ 11:24 pm

I fled the city again this weekend and went down to Maryland for a wonderful weekend at the beach with my wonderful boyfriend Scott.

InDefenseFood_cover_thumbOn the way down on the bus I finished up In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. You spend a couple hours immersed in this book and you start to look at everything differently. Indulging in a Diet Coke isn’t just a small indiscretion, its playing right into the hands of food marketers who are in the business of selling us completely useless and fattening foods that deprive of us our health and in turn create the conditions for pharma companies to swoop in and make millions. I had just turned the last page when when we pulled into a rest stop for a break.

After really educating myself of the horrors of mass produced food, of course I walked right past the Freshens, Starbucks, and Burger King, and found a cup of fruit and milk for a snack. I was digging into my little chopped up mangos when and obese mother and little boy reinstalled themselves in the seat in front of me. As I watched her share a hamburger and coke with him, and I wanted to shove the book in her hands and say “You have to read this, please.”

I didn’t of course, having Bonfire of the Vanities-esque visions of her yelling at me for telling her how to raise her kid, so I just settled into playing games on my phone until I reached Maryland, every so often stopping to ruminate on how I was going to transform my life – shopping at the local farmers market, turning down unhealthy options and living the perfect model of gastronomic perfection.


Ocean City, photo credit to Matt Coat

Ocean City, MD, photo credit to Matt Coat

Last weekend I went to Ocean City, New Jersey. This weekend I went to the other Ocean City in Maryland, so I have a great basis for comparison. Instead of Victorian homes this Ocean City has trailers and pink sandcastle hotels. Instead of small greek restaurants and family-owned ice cream shops, there are approximately twenty Candy Kitchens and a mini golf course on every corner. Literally. Shopping is limited to sparkly key chains, air brushed t-shirts that say “Hottie” and shot glasses that say “I had sex on the beach!” On that note, a big mark in its favor is that alcohol consumption is allowed and encouraged in this haven for family-style American bad behavior. While dreamy-eyed families wander the carefully manicured lawns in Ocean City, NJ, and tuck themselves in at 10, the Marylanders are over-consuming pancakes and beer for breakfast, over-consuming margaritas and pizza for lunch, and over consuming fried seafood and beer for dinner. And they continue the overconsumption until they pass out on the beach or in one of the cheap hotels lining the strip. It’s a wonderful place.

How quickly I forgot my vows of abstaining from unhealthy food as soon as we entered the vast glittering Vegas of bad health that is Ocean City.  We started out slowly. We had small homemade sandwiches for lunch after we lay on the beach, giggling at the woman with only a cooler full of beer for company who was on the verge of collapsing her chair, and then retching at the sight of a girl popping the zits on her boyfriend’s back. Next, after lounging by the bay and watching a movie, we had dinner at a new Italian restaurant over the bridge on 54,  a hundred yards away from Smitty McGee’s. Both of us had veal, him on the bone and mine tenderized. Dessert was a prudent cup of coffee. But the next morning we were off and running with a big breakfast at a cafe that inexplicably switches from sausages and bacon to thai food at midday. I ordered “whole grain” french toast, yogurt, and bacon. He did white french toast and grits, and we discussed scenarios that would lead a restaurant staffed by eastern Europeans to attempt Thai food an hour after flipping pancakes on the griddle.

We managed to avoid the Candy Kitchens with their buy-three-get-one-free deal on pounds of fudge. “Who the hell needs that much fudge?” I wondered out loud to Scott as we cruised past our tenth Kitchen and fiftieth Sunsations. We gawked at the large women waddling across the road to the beach and Scott cracked jokes involving fat girls and scooters. But for lunch – only an hour after breakfast – we each had a huge cone of ice cream. If I had on more bite I would have lost it, I’m sure. Let’s not even discuss organic food. It does not exist in Ocean City.

That night we went back to Annapolis to complete the American dream with two barbecues of hamburgers, cookie cakes, beer and ice cream. What a weekend, gross! And yet such a great time. Such is the conundrum of the American Dream.


3 Responses to “Food for thought – In Defense of Food”

  1. Peaches Says:

    Setting the Record Straight.
    I would have to disagree with some of what you said about Ocean City MD.
    Actually the only thing I agreed with was, there are WAY too many candy kitchens! Glad you noticed!

    Granted, your right! There are ALOT of Sunsations, however, it’s reason is to accommodate with the many tourists that DON’T use their vehicles to cruise the strip of OC. (Since OC is known for car’s to roam up and down the strip to show off) So posting a lot of Sunsation’s makes it easier for people to walk from the beach across the boardwalk into a cheap place for sunscreen and swim wear or beach toys for the children. Also, they aren’t “literally” just spray painted shirts and shot glasses to buy, there are plenty of gorgeous sea shell art like frames, candles, and lamp’s along with beautiful paintings, surf boards, skate shops and other things you can buy, but I am not going to list all of that out.

    Yes, there are a lot of places to go put put but each with their own theme due to OC attracting such a vas variety of people. You also neglect to mention our basketball courts, skate parks, go-cart tracks, bungee jumping set up’s, Ripley’s believe it or not walk through, the sand artists that come through, along with the huge arcade on the board walk, and nice size amusement park located at the end.

    I take offense to you making our beach look as if it is trashy and unhealthy.
    Ocean City MD is like every other beach around. You are going to find unhealthy places to eat everywhere in the world, but knowing where to look for the healthy spots is key. There are plenty of healthy restaurants around Ocean City and plenty of family base places to go. If you did your research before coming through you would have found these places, but saying it’s nothing but fried food is FAR from accurate!

    Finally, this is a tourist place, which means like every other tourist spot you will see the good and the bad. Yes there are overweight women struggling to get into that tiny bathing suit (as you show in your photo) but there are also gorgeous women sun bathing and sexy men walking along the strip.
    Yes, you will find over worked men chugging beer as you will find collage kids partying it up. It’s called vacation, it’s called unwinding, and it’s in every place you look. It’s as if you walked into a sea food place and got shocked they served crab. Guess what! You come to a party site, your going to see people partying.
    So, with this said, you and your boyfriend can go right along laughing at the people who don’t have it as great as you, and did nothing bad to you, because your article reeks of close mindedness. If you’re going to write about something, get the good and the bad and base it on that. But to knock OC MD and compare it to OC NJ which both have drastic similarities is asinine, and only proves you to be a bigger fool. Kind of like when the cheerleader makes fun of the quiet girl when ultimately the quiet one gets the last laugh. But, good luck with that!

    • Jessica Says:

      I have no clue how I cam across this blog exact blog, but I did and notice that the argument for this offensive blog needed some help. For a person whom self appoints herself as “The Clean Hippie” I find several things alarming. The one that I think stands out the most is that you eat veal, not only did you eat veal, you ate veal at a restaurant that 99.9% does not serve free rang veal. While that is a choice in America, just like going to a local Mc Donald’s, or Burger King it is still a grossly inappropriate one. Have you not read the current articles on how they treat cows that are not free rang, what they feed them. Or have you forgotten the videos in which farm workers openly admit beating the baby caffs (veal) because it makes them feel better, breaking their tails, fracturing their skulls and treating them like they are not worth respecting. Or have you forgotten what veal is? If so here is a quick reminder from the ASPCA. White Veal: From birth to slaughter at five months, calves used to produce “formula-fed” or “white” veal are confined to two-foot-wide crates and chained to inhibit movement. They are fed an iron- and fiber-deficient diet that causes anemia; the lack of exercise retards muscle development, resulting in pale, tender meat. Or do you need visual of what happens here is a youtube video in which you have to sign in for because of how disturbing it is.

      With that said have you not read or seen the fats on obese women, and how they are affected by life in general. How some women actually have a hormone imbalance and can not control the gain or loss of weight? Have you not read how putting someone down for their appearance could have horrible affects to that individuals emotional stability? Mrs. Educated have you not read how a person can eat the same amount of food as you and me and still gain weight because of the way their body processes food! I am assuming not, so lets move on to your next complaint about your “Wonderful Weekend”

      Once again your own meal choice, while your boyfriend had it somewhat right even though how do you know that the wheat that you consumed isnt roundup ready? If your so educated you should know exact what I am talking about, genetically altered food. Your choice wasnt just the roundup ready grain you had pork. Do you know what happens to the pigs in the farms, have you not read how they treat them and how they die slow an painful death inwhich large amouts of stress hormones are release into the meat in which you are eating thus ending up in your own body creating a hormone imbalance! Come on Mrs. Educated! WORK WITH ME HERE! Now for the next issue at hand about your blog.

      Organic food! What is organic, ahhh did you know that the genetically altered grain can be listed as organic? I just looked at the time, and realized way to much of it has been spent on your self righteous views and the flaws in which they hold. You are one of the most despicable people I have ever come across in a blog, you have no real knowledge in which you are preaching. You read a book and then want to label yourself as a clean hippie. I am not upset at the fact that you are disrespecting a local culture because that is what you did, I am upset in the way you went about it showing nothing but ignorance and the flaws of bloggers. Someone might actually read this and take what you said to heart. They might actually thing you know what you are talking about an not see the hypocritical statements you made. Someone might not see that mommy and daddy most likely sent you to a very respectable college in which you learned nothing, one might think that your major involved political science and sociology. As a person who is in one of those schools, and is obtaining a degree that addresses not only sociology, political science but the effect of urbanization and corporate greed I know better. Please refrain from blogging unless you know exactly what you are talking about, because you use a blogging to point the fingers at people, and yet you dont realize that there a 3 pointing right back at you.

      P.S when ever you go to a new place, there is always a safeway, food city, food lion in which you can go buy “organic foods” ,even in the O.C of M.D.

      • Alden Says:

        Ouch, I obviously hit a nerve here.

        Peaches: Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughtful reply. I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings by disparaging what I assume is your hometown? It’s not a place I would choose to live for some of the reasons listed in my article, but having visited many times over the years, I can see some of its charms. And I never though of your point about Sunsations. Touche. If I do go back, which is a possibility, I will make a point to do more research before coming to conclusions.

        Jessica: You make some very valid points. I’m aware that I can be very hypocritical. This post is about a year old, and since then I have learned so much about organic food, genetically modified foods, animal cruelty and much more. I hope you will take some time to read the rest of my blog, because you will find there so many posts where I struggle to stay true to my values. Try any of the posts here: or this post

        That being said, yes, I have so much work to do!

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