Thursday, November 5, 2015

Paralyzed by Produce

Every time I go to the supermarket, I find myself paralyzed in front of the peppers.

I stand there, mesmerized by the vibrant autumnal colors and think I want to be the kind of person who eats anthocyanins.

And so I buy a bag.

I smile smugly while rolling a dense, plump pepper around my palm. I can already see, in my mind's eye, the sharp blade of my favorite serrated knife slicing the firm flesh into little green, red, yellow and orange strips that I can snack on at my desk.

I am happy because I have found The Perfect Afternoon Hunger Antidote.

I think about this all the way to the checkout counter where I buy the peppers.

This is important, because at this point, I still believe I will eat them.

I drive home thinking about the summer I ate a red pepper many mornings on the way to work. Munched on it like it was an apple, cutting the top off and scooping out the insides so I could while away a 30-minute commute consuming carotenoids for breakfast.

I let myself pretend I am still this person.

I lovingly unload the peppers from their grocery bag and prop them on the top shelf of the fridge. Top priority. No crisper for you, I think. I understand that whatever I cannot see, I will not eat, and so I know better than to banish such beautiful peppers to the chilly morgue of the bottom drawer.

Sometimes I will think about cutting them up RIGHT THEN. But I've just been food shopping and I am hungry. So I grab dinner, peppers forgotten.

The next morning, I rush out of the house.

Despite rushing out of the house every single morning since I was five years old, I still have not learned that morning is NOT THE TIME TO ADD TO MY ROUTINE.

I open the fridge; a regular but futile activity I engage in while frantically assessing the (lack of) breakfast material.

I am not thinking about peppers.

I am thinking about bacon.

But I didn't buy bacon.

I never buy bacon because I want to be the kind of person who eats anthocyanins and not carcinogens but my groggy brain is more honest now than whatever concerned citizen I had become last night. NOW the thought of gobbling raw, gassy peppers for breakfast is repulsive. But what about the afternoon snack? I can eat them then, I think, enthusiastically.

But they need to be slain! Waaaay too much needs to happen to convert these bright vegetables into edible strips.

I toss an apple into my bag, slam the fridge door and burst out the door like a gaunt greyhound in ketosis.

This entire scene repeats every morning.

This morning I felt slightly guilty over abandoning my beloved peppers. I am still repulsed by the thought of munching on flesh not dissimilar in consistency to a boneless index finger as a breakfast food, but the snack idea still seems viable. "I'll just BRING the pepper to work and cut it up there" I think. I even let myself imagine myself walking into the breakroom during a relaxed afternoon, that's how much I like to fool myself.

 So this time I tossed them into my bag with an apple and left for work. And promptly forgot all about my grand plans to slice peppers and snack on them throughout the day until quitting time, when I reached for my car keys and discovered the forgotten bag, now warm, moist and eager to decay in the dank, fetid surroundings of my backpack.

The peppers, although more forgiving than most veggies, have wilted slightly from the forced hiatus in my dark bag. But they are not inedible!

Tomorrow, I say. Tomorrow I will deliver carotenoids to my cells.

Repeat this scene for the rest of the week.

Sunday. Foodshopping day.

I find myself standing in front of the peppers. They look so beautiful, so... FRESH. These are firm peppers, unlike their abused counterparts in my bag.

I buy a new sack, thinking "THESE I will slice. The others, I will cook. Maybe in a nice marinara sauce."

Except I don't cook them. I watch their flesh get more and more wrinkled along with my brow as the weight of food wasting while countless starve carves little worried notches between my eyes and into my forehead.

Tomorrow, I shall buy more peppers.

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