Hungry In New England

Ode to a baked potato.


Published:

The flourishing number of vegan and vegetarian restaurants that dot the culinary landscape throughout New England are a blessing for us all. Add to our good fortune the several online guides that help us locate those veg eateries. Naturally, all those directories omit from their listings the chains of greasy fast-food restaurants on whose menus meat predominates. Just because McDonald’s serves salads (hold the bacon, hold the chicken, hold the mayo, hold the dressing) hardly makes it a worthy venue for enjoying a meal. Best to drive through the drive-thru. Yet same as for vegetarianism, fast food is here to stay. During long road trips, there might be times when you do not want to go hungry. In those dire cases, you can resort to the takeout window of a fast-food joint and have delivered right to your car window a gluten-free, oil-free, salt-free, dairy-free, wholesome and filling meal, all embodied within the humble oblong form of a baked potato.

So next time you’re famished and a long way from home, drive up to a Wendy’s outlet and order a Baked Potato with Nothing on It, meaning no sour cream and chives, no butter, and no margarine. Or as expressed in the vernacular, “no nothing.” While a Baked Potato with Nothing on It does not appear on Wendy’s menus or signposts, the tidily uniformed cashiers have never been baffled by my order. They all inherently know to enter into their computer and to charge for my charming Baked Potato with Nothing on It the same as for the basic Sour Cream and Chives Baked Potato.

With a base price of $1.59 (your own local mileage may vary), after tax and tip that comes to an even $2. Sadly, few carnivores ever tip the staff at fast-food joints, so when I do the recipients really do appreciate it. And they don’t just say it, they actually show it. When I say, “Keep the change, sir!” their mouths broaden into smiles and their eyes light up. In more opulent food establishments, 20% may be standard, but when the norm is zero percent the staff consider that especially generous. Tipping generously, indeed excessively, is a strategy I long have employed during those rare events when I live dangerously and risk eating outside of the safety zone of a veg restaurant.

First, I identify myself to the waiter as a vegan. A generation ago, when not even vegetarians knew the word “veganism” or its tenets, vegans had to define its meaning. But times have changed. Next, upon ordering I accordingly seek the waiter’s advice about what on the menu is either already vegan or can be veganized. (A baked potato or any other food that does not require a list of ingredients is likely a trustworthy food that requires no such interrogation.) Later, when I leave a large gratuity I also leave the waiter with the impression that vegans are very generous tippers and maybe even very nice people. Count that as one vote for veganism.

Yet by patronizing a burger eatery, are we not voting for and subsidizing the sales of burgers? Not quite. Wendy’s actually loses money on me as a solo driver. Think of all the staff time taken and, sorry to say, all the packaging wasted on a single transaction for a single low-cost item. Is not my time, too, wasted? Not quite, again. On a long car trip, weary drivers need to take breaks to perk up their flagging energy not with the short-lived spike of caffeine but with the lasting sustenance of a simple meal.

Ungarnished with any glop, a spartan baked potato is a wholesome food high in vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and antioxidants, yet it contains no sodium and no fat or oil. That is, when it is baked, not half-baked, not boiled, and not fried. And not microwaved. Thankfully, as boasted on its online menu, “All of Wendy’s baked potatoes are oven-baked for a full hour.”

On the downside, the Wendy’s baked potato is not organically-grown, which is especially unfortunate because potatoes are one sure food where, especially in the peel, you can taste the difference between OG and not. On the plus side, the baked potatoes served at Wendy’s are not products of genetic modification. In 1996, Monsanto first marketed GM potatoes but Wendy’s, along with McDonald's, refused to buy them primarily due to consumer skepticism. Monsanto soon dropped that hot potato. In 2015, another company has unleashed into the marketplace a potato genetically modified to be optimized for frying, not baking. Yet Wendy’s has not yet rescinded its past ban.

You might not relish the simple taste of an unadorned, naked potato. If so, ordering a Potato with Nothing on It then provides you with the perfect opportunity to put something on it yourself. When you place your order for your primal potato, you can request at no extra cost some mustard or catsup or salad dressing or pepper. You can even ask for a double dose of any of those condiments. I prefer the mustard. Unlike catsup, the mustard contains no sugar or corn syrup. And unlike dressing, the mustard contains no motor grade oil nor dairy. The mustard comes in a plastic cup, not a tiny sliver of a foil packet, so a single serving of mustard is proportionate to the size of the potato. The full order I recite is, “One Baked Potato with Nothing on It, and some mustard on the side, please.”

While the size of that container of mustard is uniform, the size of the potato does vary from region to region. In order to standardize the price despite the wide range of costs of living nationally, the price stays the same. It is the size of the potato that changes. For instance, if you embark on a trip down I-95 starting in snowy Maine and head to sunny Florida, the potato grows larger as you travel farther.

In addition to getting your potato, count on receiving some novel responses from the wait staff, ranging from the positive to the amazed, but never the negative. Smiles or chuckles, yes. Sneers or snickers, no. One smiling server, not the cashier I had tipped, with one hand gave me my takeout bag and with her other hand gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up. Maybe she was thinking, “Now there’s a customer who knows what to eat!”

Mark Mathew Braunstein is the author of three vegan books and contributes to many holistic health magazines, including twice to Spirit of Change. Though sworn into the Secret Brotherhood of the Baked Potato, neither he nor anyone he knows is affiliated with Wendy’s nor with any potato farmer. He profits nothing from the sale of Wendy’s baked potatoes and recommends them solely on their merits. Visit www.MarkBraunstein.org.

See also:
Spring Food Renewal
How To Grow Oyster Mushrooms At Home (And Get Plenty Of Flavor And Protein For Free)

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Daily Astrology

June 28, 2017

A morning sextile between the Virgo Moon and the Cancer Sun focuses intentions on doing quality work, whatever the task may be. Looking out for others is also a pleasantly persistent urge. There’s plenty of energy as mental Mercury and steamy Mars unite…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

June 2017

A one-day class facilitated by Reiki Shihan (Master-Teacher), Lou Orsan Reiki Level I is an introduction to the basic principles of traditional Usui Reiki. The skills learned are designed to...

Cost: $125

Where:
Northeast Reiki Center
61 Nicholas Road, Suite B2
Framingham, MA  01701
View map »


Sponsor: Northeast Reiki Center
Telephone: 508-808-5696
Contact Name: Lou Orsan
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

1 session remaining Explore ancient shamanic healing techniques in this safe, experiential workshop. Learn the basic, core technique of the shamanic journey, a visionary method used to...

Cost: $35 per session

Where:
Keene Unitarian Universalist Church
69 Washington Street
(and corner of Taylor Street)
Keene, NH
View map »


Sponsor: Cycles of Spirit Spiritualist Church & One Spirit Shamanic Arts
Contact Name: Jay Thomas
Website »

More information

HamletHub Whole New You Series Hearst Media Entertaining Conversations Series Member pre-sale begins Tuesday, May 2 at 10am Public sale Friday, May 5 at 10am After the show Tyler will do an...

Cost: $72.50

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Contact Name: Sue LaColla
Website »

More information

Sunday Reiki treatments with Reiki master and practitioner Linda Simons in Brookline, MA. Start your week off on a more balanced note with a Reiki treatment on a Sunday afternoon. Please join me...

Cost: Sliding Scale $20-$40

Where:
233 Harvard Street
Suite 36
Brookline, MA  02446
View map »


Telephone: 617-304-2205
Contact Name: LInda Simons
Website »

More information

You can sit with your favorite medium and get a message from your loved ones in spirit and experience the relaxation of Spiritual Healing with one of our trained healers (pets also welcome!) We...

Where:
Arlington Masonic Temple
19 Academy Street
Arlington, MA
View map »


Sponsor: Greater Boston Church of Spiritualism
Telephone: 617-923-4334
Website »

More information

Prayer for Peace — Lao-Tse If there is to be peace in the world, There must be peace in the nations. If there is to be peace in the nations, There must be peace in the cities. If...

Cost: Donation / heart offering

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Sponsor: HeartSong Spiritual Wellness Center
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Qigong is an amazing practice for health, healing and inspiration. Qigong is a series of flowing and repeated movements, stretches and breathing exercises that are very easy to learn and may be...

Cost: Drop in $20 or purchase series card

Where:
The Yoga Depot
17 Depot Square
Lexington, MA  02420
View map »


Sponsor: BodyWork Revolution
Telephone: 781-372-1000
Contact Name: Steve Cunningham
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

6/27, 7/11, 7/18 and 7/25 Creative movement class for ages 3-6. ​Kids dance and yoga class that uses imagination, exploration and creative movements to discover how their body works. Helps...

Cost: $18 - $50

Where:
YOUnity Yoga & Wellness
189 Main Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Telephone: 508-478-3333
Contact Name: BJ Hickson
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Slow down and relax your mind and body while engaging in a variety of mindfulness activities.  Tarot Card Readings available to the first 6 people who register. Being mindful is one of...

Cost: $20/$25

Where:
HeartSong Spiritual Wellness
23 Pine Street
Milford, MA  01757
View map »


Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

A Reiki Share is a gathering of Reiki practitioners who congregate for a combination social/healing session. The primary purpose of having a "share" is for practitioners to participate in...

Cost: $10

Where:
Open Doors
395 Washington Street
Braintree, MA  02170
View map »


Sponsor: Leslie Miller Jewett
Telephone: (857) 526-3301
Contact Name: Leslie Miller Jewett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Weekly yoga classes with Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN of Harmony Way on Wednesdays at 12:15 PM and Fridays at 9:30 AM at the Wilbraham Senior Center. Class welcomes all ages and uses a...

Cost: $5

Where:
Wilbraham Senior Center
45 Post Office Park, #4502
Wilbraham, MA  01095
View map »


Sponsor: Harmony Way
Telephone: 413-636-2475
Contact Name: Rev. Michelle Caron, RMT, CYT, ZIN
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Wild Vibes will be kicking off the seacoast summer with their fourth annual Wild Vibes Yoga Festival on July 1st at Spring Hill in South Berwick. A festival focused on bringing people back to their...

Cost: $15 - $65

Where:
Spring Hill
117 Pond Rd
South Berwick, ME  03908
View map »


Contact Name: Magnolia Barrett
Website »

More information

January 14 - December 9, 2017 With Tom Frederick Novice — This 12-month program is designed to assist you on your journey to spiritual enlightenment. Here we study a variety of esoteric...

Cost: $1300

Where:
Women of Wisdom
118 Washington Street
North Easton, MA  02356
View map »


Sponsor: Women of Wisdom
Telephone: 508-230-3680
Contact Name: Women of Wisdom
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags