October 10, 2005
By Gretchen Smith
I can judge the overall health of my life by one simple thing…when I start to like Ovaltine things have gotten really bad. My affinity for Ovaltine began in Belize Central America when my neighbor Mrs. Guzman would offer a cup to me. It always tasted so nutritious and delicious. In Belize resources were scarce and simple things like vegetables cost a fortune. I used to go fishing for food but usually came up empty so Mrs. Guzman would take pity on me and supply with a nice warm cup of Ovaltine.
Sometimes there was little to eat but I rarely complained for I loved my little hut just steps from the sea. No electricity or running water made for an interesting life but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. There was a crazy artist just down the beach from me and I recall thinking how weird he was. His name was Tom. Everyone tolerated him…nobody liked him. Now more than 10 years later I find myself the same…a starving artist. I’m sure Tom liked Ovaltine too. I always keep some in my cupboard and when times are plentiful it gets pushed to the back. When I can see the label start to peak through it is a reminder that I need to go shopping and soon the jar is buried deep in the recesses of the cupboard once again. Every so often God decides to humble me and I open the cupboard to find the Ovaltine front and center.
I pulled out the jar today and read the label like it was my last will and testament. Sugar, Cocoa processed with alkali, barley malt extract, sweet dairy whey (milk), beet extract (see Mom I am too eating my vegetables), salt, mono and diglycerides, molasses, natural caramel flavor, vanillan. I also noted the fact that it is a highly nutritious drink containing high percentages of the daily allowances of a variety of vitamins. 45% of Vitamin A, 45% Vitamin C, 8% Calcium, 15% Iron, 50% Vitamin D, 60% for Vitamin B-1, 45% for Vitamin B-2, 45% Niacin, 45% Vitamin B-6, and even 8% of my daily phosphorus needs. It’s also fat free and cholesterol free which is fabulous for those of us trying to lose weight. So basically if I drink 3 cups of this stuff a day I will be abundantly supplied for my dietary needs.
I’m on my third cup of Ovaltine today and considered cooking my beans in it because even an onion is out of my financial reach today. Things are bad and the warm liquid soothes my worries and replenishes my tired body. The nice thing is that due to the periods of starvation in my life my body has become quite adept at storing fat. When times are good I eat abundantly and my body cooperates with my starving artist lifestyle by saving every little morsel. I suppose if I were on one of those survivor shows that they would sacrifice me for food because at 6 foot tall and 300 pounds I could feed a tribe but I know that it wouldn’t be the meat they were after but the Ovaltine I had stored up over the years.
I have been praying for God to help me lose this extra weight and it seems he has answered my prayers with Ovaltine once again. I have not quite hit rock bottom yet…I still have some beans and flour and even some fine Kenyan coffee and one can of chunky vegetable soup for my last supper but it is the Ovaltine that I covet the most. I shall start rationing it as my days come to an end. How long can someone like me survive on a diet of Ovaltine, beans, and my own body fat? I’m not sure but I suppose I’ll find out. Jesus fasted for 40 days so I am thinking that perhaps I will notify my parents that my funeral will be in approximately 4-6 weeks.
When times get tough like this I often browse through the local paper to see what menial job I could tolerate but I am not hungry enough yet to allow the outside world to influence my creative endeavors…afterall, the Ovaltine jar is still half full so there is still hope for this starving artist.
You can find out more about Gretchen Smith at the following links.
PO BOX 1022
Paducah, KY 42001
Are you an artist with a food related story to share? If so, then share it by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also send a photo of you, a sample of your work (if possible), and your best contact information (website, email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). It will then be posted to this blog. All contributions may be edited for grammar and only edited for content with the contributor’s permission. I look forward to reading and sharing your stories.