Monday, July 19, 2010

Food Revolution Road Trip Day One: When Oranges are Illegal

Driving: From home to Bellingham, Washington.

Challenge: An International Border Crossing that doesn't allow you to take any dairy, meat, or fresh fruit/veggie products across. Ferries that are often late, long lines at the border, AND it's Canada Day, which is a national holiday in our country.

First Stop: Cobs Bread in North Vancouver


The plan was to make sandwiches on the road for lunch, but as I pulled our brand new bag of Silver Hills Squirrelly bread out of the freezer, I discovered that it was moldy. Gah! With no time to get to the store for more bread, we decided to get some on the way.

"Why did you take a picture of the store?" The clerk wanted to know as she handed me my loaf of multi-grain. I explained what Food Revolution Road Trip was, and they looked at me like I was a little crazy. Oh well! Probably won't be the first time.

Lunch was peanut butter and banana sandwiches, put together on my lap as we drove to the border and served up on plastic plates. You MUST try Cobs Bread. It is amazingly delicious and so much so, that we resolved to get some more when we return home. We snacked on some sweet clementine oranges, their cloying scent filling the car as we continued on our way. Gotta finish those babies up before we hit the border, you know.

Of course, there were line ups at the border, as usual. We waited. And waited. Hmm. Is there a garbage can somewhere? We have orange and banana peels we need to get rid of.

Nothing. Just grassy knolls, bunnies, cars, and the Peace Arch.

Hubs got out of the car and chatted with a girl in front of us, who had lived in Washington all her life and never been to Vancouver until then. We inched ahead bit by bit, looking for a garbage can.

"Just shove the peels under your seat," Hubs insisted.

"No WAY! Jen told me a story about how they went to the USA, had dinner and couldn't eat it all and there was a kumquat left over. They had the leftovers boxed up and forgot about the kumquat, came across the border, and the guards found it. It was a huge fine! There has to be a garbage can around here somewhere. I think I remember them being just before you get to the booth."

So we waited. No garbage can. We inched closer to the border, with the cameras, guards, and booths looming. Passports ready, we began to panic a bit. Where did all these guards come from? We've never seen this many before. And why are they directing us to some tiny, enclosed area where there's like SIX of them with guns looking at us?

A guard approached the car and I thrust my hands, full of banana and orange peels, towards him.

"We had a snack while we waited," I explained. "There's no garbage cans. We know it can't go across the border. Do you have a garbage can here?"

The guard glared at us.

OH SHIT.

Oh my god oh my god oh my god he has a gun don't make him angry we like the USA, and we're good Canadians, I promise. Really. We're not terrorists or drug dealers, just a family who wants to visit your country on vacation. I promise we will be GOOD WHILE WE'RE HERE!

"Voluntarily giving up CONTRABAND!" He yelled across the lines to a fellow guard and pointed to our car, until another guard walked over and glared in the window. Jake and I shrank back.

"We've been trying to find a garbage can," I squeaked. "There aren't any."

"This is a border crossing, " he snapped loudly as his eyes narrowed, "Give me the orange peels." I fumbled with the handful, trying to pick out the orange peel bits from the banana peel, which by this time was brown and slimy. "I don't want the other stuff. Don't do this again. This is a BORDER. Do the right thing. While you are at it, open your trunk."

Someone banged loudly on the lid of the trunk and we immediately opened it, listening while they rooted around inside and looking at each other, wide-eyed.

"See? Should have shoved them under your seat." Hubs shook his head.

"And can you imagine if they FOUND them now? No freaking way. If they are this nasty when you're honest, what if you're NOT?"

After the usual questions about where we were going and what we planning to do in the USA, they finally let us through.

WHEW.

Food Revolution Road Trip Lesson #1: Deposit your garbage WELL before you hit the border, at a gas station or something that isn't even near the line up. Do NOT choose to eat your "contraband" fruit/veggies/ etc while you are in line. There are no garbage cans and those border guards? Really, really, scary.

By the time we arrived at our hotel, it was dinner time. We had resolved there wouldn't be a restaurant meal quite yet. How about a deli? There was a Fred Meyer across the street.

Fred Meyers are freaking HUGE, people. What is this with everything from clothes to jewelry in the grocery store? We went to the deli case and were decidedly puzzled by our options; take out, most of which looked like fast food, or sandwiches. Jake and I chose a few wraps and had a sandwich made for Hubs, then picked up a quart of milk for us to share.

The cases of milk loomed in front of us as we searched for a brand that was from cows NOT treated with hormones, and was 1%. Loads of homogenized milk, 2%, but 1%? Not so easy. And what are these stacks and stacks of cream, whipped cream, heavy cream, and half and half? We have the same products, but not even remotely in that quantity.

Back at the hotel we watched TV and happily munched on our sandwiches, until the ingredient list on our wraps caught my eye. A mile long and full of things that I couldn't even pronounce, somehow they began to taste a little less delicious as it dawned on me they obviously were a total Food Revolution FAIL. Both contained high fructose corn syrup. How could that be? They were fresh from a deli! Or...were they?

This is going to be a LOT harder than I thought.

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