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The eater’s digest
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - The column this week is about food.  If you like to eat, keep reading.  I pilfered the title from a food coop’s newsletter long ago that was called ‘The Eaters’ Digest,’ which I thought was quite clever.

Anyway, we all eat and we all digest.  Our diets vary considerably from one person to the next and I’m sure our digestion varies as well.  We spend a lot of time and effort at putting food on the table. Some of us never quite get to the table, we graze, grab a bite, snack, eat while we drive, consume food along with our TV viewing, etc. Here at the Gibbs’s we call that last way of eating ‘Viewing and Chewing.’

There’s this thing called mindful eating. According to that school of thought, we should concentrate on what we’re eating, think about where it came from, how it was produced, what we’re getting out of it, and simply enjoy the tastes and textures of the essential food we’re consuming. That’s hard to do when you’re watching  the nightly news or a cop show. Too much of the food we consume falls under the category of mindless eating I suspect.

Way back when, back when Johnny Carson was still hosting the Tonight Show, Joan Rivers mentioned that she didn’t cook, she thawed things. Yes, it’s true, very much of our food these days is pre-prepared, ready to eat or ready to heat ‘n’ eat. Watch what people have in their shopping carts to gauge how much from scratch cooking is going on. It’s so easy to rely on the convenience that modern store-bought food offers.

Cooking from scratch has become a lost art in many homes. The pandemic has given many people the opportunity to return to the kitchen to follow recipes. There are an amazing number of cooking shows on TV now, with their celebrity chefs and they can make cooking look like fun.

There is plenty of help for those that want to cook from scratch. There is a plethora of cookbooks in existence, and there are new ones available in a steady stream. Some people have shelves of cookbooks; a friend of mine collects cookbooks, not sure how often he uses them. Magazines, newspapers, and newsletters often include recipes. Two special cookbooks in my personal library are: the Gays Mills Sesquicentennial Cook Book and a classroom-created cookbook from our daughter Rachel’s fofth grade class.

Publishers keep churning out new books on eating (Eat This, Not That; Kitchen Confidential) and cooking and extolling new diet fads to try. One odd-ball paperback I own is called: ‘Manifold Destiny - Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine.’

In the final analysis, food is fuel. A wise man once told me that we are just “renting” the food we eat. We get to choose what we eat and how much effort we want to put into this basic fact of life. We can eat well and frugally or poorly and expensively.

All this talk about food has sharpened my appetite. Think I’ll see what I can find to munch on, mindfully of course.