Joanne Palmer: Nevermind, I’ll just have a salad |

Joanne Palmer: Nevermind, I’ll just have a salad

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or
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Food. It’s not what’s for dinner anymore. Guilt is for dinner instead. As more and more additives, chemicals and yucky-sounding ingredients such as hydrogenated oils and high-fructose corn syrup creep into our food, eating — once the simplest of pleasures — has grown increasingly complicated.

This week, Evie the Eavesdropper, disguised as an ordinary person, listens to a woman trying to order dinner in a local restaurant. All identifying details have been changed to protect her privacy.

Woman to waiter: Which is better, the swordfish or the salmon?

Waiter: I don’t know ma’am, they are both good.

Woman: Hmm … I really want the burger. The swordfish could have mercury in it. A burger and fries (if they’re not fried in some disgusting oil) sound so good but I ate too much over the holidays … maybe I better have a salad, dressing on the side.

Waiter: OK, the special house salad with dressing on the side. Do you want the house dressing? It’s raspberry vinaigrette.

Woman: I read somewhere that a salad can have just as many calories as a burger, so maybe a burger and I can take off the top of the bun and save some calories that way. I won’t get the fries, because who knows what they are fried in. I’ll have the coleslaw instead, except that’s probably made with mayo that is really high in fat. But the burger … what about that cow? Does it have mad cow disease? Or is it grass-fed, free-range beef?

Waiter: I don’t know ma’am, I’ll have to ask the chef.

Woman: On second thought, I’ll have the pasta primavera. But wait, are those noodles whole grain noodles or white noodles? Are they enriched with Omega-3 and extra fiber, or are they white? Oh, wait. I’m lactose intolerant, so is it possible to have the pasta sauce made with soy or rice milk?

Waiter: No.

Woman: OK, nevermind. Maybe I will have the salmon. Is it farm-raised or is it wild caught? I don’t want it if it’s farm raised and injected with pink dye. I’m trying to eat locally. OK, nevermind. How many miles away from Routt County did the salmon come from?

Waiter: I don’t know ma’am, I’ll have to ask the chef.

Woman: OK, nevermind. I forgot to ask about the bread. Is it made with organic flour or regular flour? I just finished a three-day colon cleanse to get all toxins out of my system, and I don’t want to introduce anything that isn’t organic into it.

Waiter: I don’t know ma’am, I’ll have to ask the chef.

Woman: OK, nevermind. And this silverware. Was it made in America or in a free-trade country? I would lose my appetite if children in a sweatshop in some Third World country were working for a penny an hour to produce this silverware.

Waiter: I don’t know ma’am, I’ll have to ask the manager.

Woman: OK, nevermind. Oh my goodness, these are paper napkins! Don’t you know that’s politically incorrect? You are supposed to use cloth. Paper kills trees.

Waiter: I’ll mention it to the manager, ma’am. Have you decided what you’d like to eat?

Woman: Oh, right my meal. Do the apples in the salad come from Fiji or are they grown in the United States? I try to watch my carbon footprint.

Waiter: You know what, ma’am, you really seem to be struggling. Can I recommend the special, which is locally raised Yampa Valley beef, sautéed in a special snowball sauce. The snow was brought down by Billy Kidd on his one o’clock run.

Woman: No thanks, I’m going to have the chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes instead. And a hot fudge sundae for dessert.

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