Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

                                     The World on a Platter

    Hubby and I went shopping in Bowling Green last Saturday, after I
had made the mistake of skipping breakfast.  We wanted to check out the
newly re-modelled and expanded Big Lots store, to compare it to the one we
usually go to in Findlay and to re-stock the shelves I call my "Big Lots
pantry," where I store all the odd foods, sauces, marinades, pastas, and
spices that don't fit on my kitchen shelves.  Since trips to Big Lots take more
effort in time and distance than running out to the local IGA, and because I
can't count on finding the same things twice at BL, when I see something I
might like, I always buy more than one.  Even if it's something I haven't
tried before, the low prices at BL make this not much of a risk.
    People might not realize, living here in farm country, how much of
our food comes from other countries around the world.  Even if we purchase
them at the local grocery, many of the preserved foods and most of the out-
of-season fruits and vegetables have travelled thousands of miles before they
land on our plates.  With improvements in transportation and refrigeration,
we've become used to getting what we want when we want it, but in
Victorian times a child in England would be overjoyed to receive an orange
as a gift in his or her Christmas stocking, and to George Washington a
pineapple was the ultimate symbol of hospitality because it was such a rare
and lavish treat for any gracious host to set before his guests.
    I took a short inventory of my pantry, and here is what I found, just
from the things I bought at Big Lots this weekend, and skipping the stuff that
originated in the U.S.A.:
    Crackers, garlic powder, and an herb mixture for making a bread dip,
from Canada; mixes for Thai curry chicken and beef with black bean sauce,
from New Zealand; smoked oysters from Thailand; sardines in hot sauce
from Poland; herring in mustard and paprika sauces, from Germany;
pimientos from Spain; balsamic vinegar from Italy; roasted red peppers in
oil, from Bulgaria; anchovies from Morocco; raspberry flavored milk
chocolate from England; corned beef from Brazil.  Maybe the coffee I
bought came from Brazil, too; the package doesn't say.  I suppose it could
come from Ecuador, Honduras, Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica, or all of the
    Imagine, a trip around the world, across four continents and an
archipelago, right there in my shopping cart!  And it doesn't take a trip to
Big Lots to be so well-travelled; the "dollar section" at the IGA has pasta
from Turkey and chocolate from Poland, both before you're ten feet inside
the doors.  The next time you think, "I never go anywhere," take a trip
through your cupboards and read the labels on your food, looking for where
it's from.  Who needs to travel, when we already have the world on a platter?

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