Cedar Key: food for thought

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By Eileen Bowers
I was settin’ at this restaurant
When the waiter came up and said, “What do you want?”
I looked at the menu — it looked so nice.
Till he said, “Let me give you some advice.”
He said, “Spaghetti and potatoes got too much starch,
Pork chops and sausage are bad for your heart.
There’s hormones in chicken and beef and veal,
Bowl of ravioli is a dead man’s meal.
Bread’s got preservatives, there’s nitrates in ham,
Artificial coloring in jellies and jam.
Stay away from doughnuts, run away from pie,
Pepperoni pizza is a sure way to die.
Sugar’s gonna rot your teeth and make you put on weight,
Artificial sweetener’s got cyclamates.
Eggs are high in cholesterol, too much fat in cheese,
Coffee ruins your kidneys and so do teas.
Fish got too much mercury, red meat is poison,
Salt’s gonna send your blood pressure risin’.
Hot dogs and bologna got deadly red dyes,
Vegetables and fruits are sprayed with pesticides.”
So I said, “What can I eat that’s gonna make me last?”
He said, “A small drink of water in a sterilized glass.”
And then he stopped and he thought for a minute,
And said, “Never mind the water—-there’s carcinogens in it.”
So I got up from the table and walked out in the street,
Realizin’ there was absolutely nothing I could eat.
So I haven’t eaten for a month and I don’t feel too fine,
But I know that I’ll be healthy for a long, long time.

This poem, titled “Food?” was written nearly 30 years ago by American poet, humorist and children’s author Shel Silverstein.  Mr. Silverstein, who has been deceased for nearly 15 years, would not be amused that we have made little progress over the control of quality of our food and water.
But what if we the citizens of Cedar Key could have more local control over our food?  High-season employment at Kona Joe’s Island Café presented the perfect opportunity to collect five-gallon pails full of coffee grinds, veggie and fruit peelings and innumerable egg shells that were composted and then fertilized a spring crop of beans, squash, tomatoes and peppers.  This workable scenario convinced me that we could indeed have more control.  What if all food waste from all our restaurants and school were collected, added to chipped yard waste, composted and then used to fertilize a community garden?  Wouldn’t that not only allow us to utilize a valuable resource that we’re currently paying to have trucked to a landfill, educate our children about planting a seed and harvesting a crop and also give us local control over our food?  Now that’s some food for thought.