My friend Nathalie was going on nostalgically about shelling peanuts and it struck a chord. More than just Peanuts:
I would have left a comment there if I could have, instead I'm posting here..
Her peanut post resonated with me because I've been through the same over the years in rediscovering the most basic of things. It is really kind of crazy that we've forgotten that peanuts normally need to be shelled, that chicken breasts come from a whole bird, that oranges and chocolate come from hard labour afar and so therefore should be a treat.. (not so with our parents, who we thought were so backward).
This is all because we're now used to life in the fast lane where we want everything easy, convenient (and paradoxically more expensive..) Then again, as her story attests, it doesn't take much to wake people up.. Cracking open some nuts, making something in the kitchen from scratch, visiting a table champêtre where you see your meal from farm to table, all to realize a basic truth beyond nostalgia - that that's the way it was always supposed to be. (And very similar to what our parents or grandparents knew).
People wouldn't be so fat if they had to shell their own nuts or deep fry their own potatoes, and they would surely eat less meat if they were close to the process (ie raising or hunting the animals or at least paying the fair price for wholesome meat). So like she said about peanuts, I encourage people to slow down and do the old school thing, but all round.. When every bite is more earned (because you worked for it) or more meaningful (because you made it from a family recipe or got the ingredients from artisans you know), or just more fresh (because you peeled the nuts yourself or got your meat or veg from the farm), for sure it will taste better. Then, it's not even about nostalgia or romanticism, it's better because it's the real thing.
I can't imagine how anyone who stops long enough to think or taste would want to live life any other way. And certainly, the more that people choose to eat real food, the less difficult it will be to live life that way, even in the city. I'm not saying it's the end of the world if you buy a few déjà shucked nuts because you're on the run or for a recipe, but only realizing that it shouldn't be the norm is something. We have the luxury here to not be always thinking about where our food comes from, but I don't think it should ever be too far from our thoughts - it's just not natural, ethical or tasty.
BTW, François, like my Dad, has always eaten nuts out of the shell, a nut cracker always handy. One of the reasons I love him.
Did you know that we have quality peanuts in Ontario? Planted on old tobacco land, a few small growers have had success with the Valencia variety, and you can buy fresh nuts at roadside stands and in the farmers' markets.. http://www.canadianpeanuts.com/