Green Zinger 2 of 2 by child grower Annita Woz

jennysjellystonegreentoesThis is the second of a two part story on a trip to Willy Street Co- op for a class on healthy eating (link to part 1 of Zinger here) 

Kombuchi Girl next to me has an affinity for sweets -sometimes in the middle of the night- and the instructor has a quick response to her question, ” What oil is best to use for baking?  ”

” I don’t bake anymore.”    

KG pushes on, she is kind of in shock that baking is off the allowed activities list  but goes in with the children angle.  “Ok, but I have to bake for my kids, so are you telling me that I should use olive oil in my double nut plus oatmeal chocolate chip cookies?”

The educator relaxes and admits she does sometimes bake for her kids, but throws in that cookies are no longer part of her healthy diet.  Seeing my friend’s face fall,  she hastily adds that if she did bake she’d recommend coconut oil, not to be confused with palm oil, hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and no more war for oil.

Suddenly, I feel so out of place in this health food class and so odd, so obviously a Woodman’s kind of non-local shopper that I am almost embarrassed in this group of natural fiber wearing people.  I look down to see if I am wearing any non-synthetic material at all. 

Nope, not a stitch.

And my toenails are polished.  I cross my feet under my chair.

And, shamefacedly, I admit I have some very non-organic product in my hair today, likely some that was tested on baby kitties or worse,  baby kitties shipped here from China.   

I am an outsider, pretending to be an East side-enlightened- buyer.  I am a total faker. My eyes widen in revelation!

Then I remember I shaved my armpits that morning. Yup. I was clearly not in the right place.

But when my neighbor to the left raises her arm to wave for a glass of Kombuchi (the green fermented stuff) I see she is friends with the razor, too.  Whew! I take this prickly sign as confirmation that I am supposed to be here, in the present, in the now, as my mantra quoting friend next to me often says.  Presently, I’m thinking that if I start drinking more of these Green Zingers,  I’ll truly turn green.

In all fairness,  I’ll make fun of myself in this post and a little fun of the evening, but I have complete respect for the educator and her efforts to share what she is trained to share with us.  She is a cancer survivor. She takes her food, her body, her consumption, seriously. Her seriousness, her knowledge about how serious food is,  humbles and inspires us on the spot.

Our instructor is the very helpful Terry Klas, ND, RN, CNHP who is a naturopathic doctor at Human Nature, on Atwood Avenue in downtown Madison. She smiles and laughs out loud at my question about whether she still loves food.  She admits she does, and she reminds me that she is also the cooking instructor for the business with owner Katy Wallace.   Together they tackle a number of health issues with a combination of medical analyses followed up by nutritional solutions at their clinic on Atwood Avenue.

Klas shrugs as she admits that she doesn’t have much time for entertaining or cooking for large groups in her rural home where she juggles work, family time and still dedicates Saturday mornings to hospice care.  I wait for the wink when she suggests I can serve healthier fare at my next book club like some of what we are tasting this evening.

There is no mistaking that she still loves to cook as her eyes light up with a tale of making an incredible pudding with gluten free ingredients that she absolutely loves. 

I take a skeptical look at the next ingredient she has introduced.  This is kimchi sitting under my nose and I catch a waft like a forgotten diaper retrieved from under the passenger seat in my van last year.

This digestive boosting saurkrauty looking pile sitting on a very unappetizing rice cracker is not giving me a good vibe.  I resist holding my nose and put the whole thing in my mouth. It is horrible. What gut wouldn’t clean itself up when faced with this? I know it is powerful. I also know I will never buy it. 


We follow Ms. Klas thru Willy Street Coop struggling with the new words floating from her mouth.  This is beyond buy-local thinking. We are discussing sprouting our own legumes, the value of cows milk, or any milk at all.  Forget yogurt, chocolate milk, cereal with milk, pasteurizing milk and why in the heck do we feed our kids cow’s milk in the first place? She’s talking organic vs natural, local vs Whole Foods, nutrition vs nourishment and showing me more kinds of beans than I know exist.

The ingredients labels flashing by on the well-stocked shelves of the Willy Street Co-op are new to me but also much shorter and more prounounceable than what I see on the sides of my boxes of cereal. 

Our guide, well versed in determining the value of grapeseed oil vs canola (take grapeseed) shares a brief lesson on how soy messes with middle age hormones and the value of just eating fruit for breakfast in a smoothie, or from my hand in all of its naked natural glory. 

For only a second, I imagine myself reclining on my deck chair,  sipping a refreshing spinach shake on a hot summer evening.

Back in the tasting room I try some fresh goat cheese and a no-wheat blueberry muffin that is of actual portion size- that is, I could fit  six inside one of the mammoth muffins from the local bakery. 

“I can eat these,” I nod, making eye contact with my good friend who has not yet had a satisfying meal after a day at work. We are looking forward to going up the street to Lao Laan Xang for some fresh spring rolls.  Her eyes say stop asking questions so we can get outta here but her grin is telling me she enjoys watching me find my way on this side of town.  We both know that the people on the East side “get it” but now we are left wondering if we “want it”. 

We also realize we don’t have an equivalent place like this on the West side.  And we want one.  

Now our hostess is laughing but not at me. She says, “Sure, I make this at home! I trick my kids into eating good food. I make an incredible bean burrito and they wolf it down and don’t even know it is good for them!” 

I could get into the spirit of the moment now.  I, too,  like to trick my kids into eating healthy.  But can I ever trick myself?

I try to wash all the new info down with my goat cheese sample.  This slab of cheese is nothing like the fresh chevre I get from my CSA share…then, just as this thought about my farm share comes to me,  the heavens open and a beam of light shines down and illuminates my once-gray-now-chemically-altered-and- dyed hair.  I know I am hearing cherubs singing sweet melodies with a cathedral size organ supporting the chorus that loosely translated goes something like, “Yes, she DOES buy local.  Let her enter the golden gates and fan her with naturally grown palm fronds and feed her some seaweed soup in a bamboo bowl and wash her hair back to gray with baking soda and home made mayonnaise. ”

### by child grower Annita Woz.

3 Responses

  1. I make an olive oil cake that’s really tasty. I think the real secret might be that we need to go to Italy and buy the really fabulous olive oil that they locals use.

    (sigh) The sacrifices we make for health! 🙂

  2. NO kidding- a cake with olive oil. THat’s it, time to pack our bags and go to Italy. we can write it off as a work trip, research, you know… can’t we?

  3. If I can remember where I put the recipe, I’ll send it to you.

    About that trip to Italy. . . we may as well research fruit while we’re there. Grapes for sure–smashed, in bottles. Also lemons, as in lemoncello.

    Sometimes I amaze myself with my passion for research.

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