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

May 22, 2019

Mars’ late morning sextile to Uranus sets the day off with grand ambitions and a willingness to take risks. Technology and visionary thinking prove to be complimentary disciplines. It’s a great time to improve your computer skills or invest in a new…
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Alternative Health Directory

Browse all listings »

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

May 2019

With Lisa Rockenmacher The Bhagavad Gita is one of the oldest and most well-known texts regarding the path of yoga. It contains wisdom and guidance that offers insight to all seekers from all...

Cost: $160 ($144 when you register by April 14 )

Where:
Yogalife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Telephone: 603-867-3969
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

A talk by Roger Lipsey, author of a new biography Gurdjieff Reconsidered: The Life, the Teaching, the Legacy. Joined by special guest Cynthia Bourgeault, author of the foreword. “All is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Cambridge Public Library, Main Lecture Hall
449 Broadway
Cambridge, MA
View map »


Sponsor: The Gurdjieff Society of Massachusetts
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 $25-45

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


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

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Initiating Inspiration Book Club will be discussing the book Before Happiness by Shawn Anchor. Copies of the book can be checked out at the Circulation Desk of the Waltham Public...

Cost: Free

Where:
Waltham Public Library
735 Main Street
Waltham, MA  02451
View map »


Sponsor: Waltham Public Library
Telephone: 617-710-6145
Contact Name: Louise Goldstein
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us for this light and fun evening. As part of intuitive development we will be working with auras, chakras and energy tonight. $15 pay at registration, $20 at the door. Aura Bob will be...

Cost: $15 pay at registration, $20 at the door.

Where:
The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
68 Stiles Rd
Suite #A
Salem, NH  03079
View map »


Sponsor: The Healing Power of Flowers - Heaven and Earth
Telephone: 603-275-7688
Contact Name: Stacey Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Anxiety can feel painful and debilitating, causing feelings of isolation, fear, an inability to concentrate, and low self-esteem. Over 40 million adults are affected by anxiety in the U.S. making...

Cost: $35

Where:
YogaLife Institute of NH
6 Chestnut Street
Lower Level
Exeter, NH  03833
View map »


Sponsor: YogaLife Institute of NH
Contact Name: Alice Bentley
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Being in a long term committed partnership allows us to experience sharing our lives with another soul. Often we begin a committed partnership with an experience of being our best selves with...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Heart's Journey
196 Pleasant Street
Suite 302
Northampton, MA  01060
View map »


Sponsor: The Heart's Journey
Telephone: 413-687-9951
Contact Name: Abriete Medore
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

May 24–26 Designed to prepare individuals who are interested in helping themselves and others in a rewarding career as a professional certified hypnotist/hypnotherapist. Live...

Cost: $1995 ppd. (Early Bird by 5/15 - $1795)

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...

Saturday Workshop The Yamas and niyamas and why they matter today. Format includes yoga poses as well as meditation. All welcome. A one-day workshop. Pre-register by 5/23: 508-829-6300...

Cost: $35

Where:
Worcester Yoga Center
21 West Street
Worcester, MA  01609
View map »


Sponsor: Ann Bissanti, CYT
Telephone: 508-829-6300
Website »

More information

May 25–26 Join other like-minded seekers as we take a journey through the concepts of the new Earth paradigm, higher self and soul sovereignty, ascension mechanics, and spiritual alchemy.

Where:
North Andover, MA


Telephone: (617) 366-6042
Website »

More information

May 4–June 8, 2019 Saturdays 10am–11:30am Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) is a healing martial art using breath and movement. It is just one way to stay young and healthy. It...

Cost: $120

Where:
Metta Wellness
679 Pleasant Street
Paxton, MA  01612
View map »


Sponsor: Metta Wellness
Telephone: 774-245-5487
Contact Name: Rick Rocha
Website »

More information

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