How often is an option better in every way? Even quitting cigarettes, which seem better in every way to me in saving money, improving health, decreasing litter, and so on, to a smoker mean losing pleasure.
How cereal became better in every way
As a kid growing up, the cereal aisle of a supermarket seemed as much a part of nature as trees outside. It just existed, as did all the cereals with their brightly colored boxes, cartoon characters, list of vitamins and ingredients that would have seemed bizarre for not existing elsewhere, like BHT and puffed rice, but I didn’t know any different.
I think in graduate school I switched to oats. The naive younger me would have thought I reduced variety, but by then I think I learned that the appearance in variety in cereal boxes and cartoon character didn’t translate to meaningful difference, while topping oats with different fruits and nuts did. Maybe it came later than graduate school.
As I got lazier and avoided more animal products, I switched from cooking them in milk or water to pouring cold milk on them, to pouring hot water on them. I remember my mom describing steel cut oats as special since they took up to forty minutes to cook.
Fast forward to when I bought my pressure cooker about seven years ago. I found I could cook them faster, but I still had to clean the pressure cooker.
Fast forward to more recently, not long before disconnecting the apartment from the electric grid. I found I could just soak even steel cut oats overnight and they tasted good. Leaving them overnight took time, but my preparation time was seconds.
Last year, experimenting with preparing food without power, I started soaking other grains and legumes overnight. Holy cow! They become edible. Who knew? Looking back, I wondered how people used to eat grains before industry processed them.
Now I buy whole grains, soak them, and eat them for breakfast like I used to eat boxed breakfast cereals, but this way is better in every way:
- Easier to prepare
- More accessible
- Store longer
- Healthier for environment
- Taste better
- More interesting textures
Here are some. In the jars are barley, steel cut oats, bulgur wheat, farro, rye, and red lentils. They’re incredibly cheap in bulk and store indefinitely. In the bowls are what I’m soaking for the next day or two. Sometimes I let them sprout. The coop has other grains I rotate in depending on my mood. You can buy any of them online.
I take seconds to pour them into the bowls and put water on them. The variety comes from the fruits, nuts, and other toppings, like cacao and cacao nibs.
Incidentally, the coins are the challenge coins officers at West Point gave me after interviewing them for the podcast or leading leadership workshops there, for those who know about challenge coins.
Here’s another view:
Boxed, processed cereal: Worse in every way
Here’s a nasty supermarket aisle, charging more for worse products—doof—impoverishing and sickening people like I was, not knowing I could prepare grains and legumes nearly effortlessly:
I used to think this picture had variety and health. Now I see more variety and health in my small selection of jars. This picture is just extracting wealth and time from people it hides nature from.
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