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Omnivore - Guest blogger: An ode to ketchup

Playing ketchup



By Russ Marshalek

I first discovered ketchup as a weight-loss tool when I was in my early teens. My Marietta trailer-park youth contributed to some serious adolescent obesity in terms of me shopping the husky section of Wal-Mart for cheap jeans (which my family called “dungarees”). Around the age of thirteen, three major turning points happened in my life. First, I got really, really physically ill, as a result of weighing somewhere close to a billion pounds. Second, I became a vegetarian as a direct result of said illness. Third, I realized that (and this only applies to then, not now) I really, really hated most vegetarian options available to me.

Growing up on fast food, my new-found attempts at healthier eating and vegetarianism found me alienated from my family in regards to food. It was possibly a cool, crisp autumn day, or maybe a stinking hot mid-summer afternoon, or all/none of the above, when I was standing in line at a Wendy’s with my folks and suddenly realized that a plain baked potato, with no butter or sour cream, would, in fact, be the healthiest option on the menu.

Upon ordering and digging into the foil-wrapped bundle steaming with the blandness of a tennis ball covered in a sneaker, I realized that baked potato ordered from a fast-food establishment and eaten entirely plain was way better in theory than in actuality. I frantically scoured the restaurant for something, anything, to make the potato better: salt? My minimal knowledge of health and food was enough to know that “salt=bad”. Pepper? My limited taste palette had yet to experiment with it. Ditto with mustard (thank god — a plain baked potato covered in yellow fast-food mustard? Ugh). Ketchup? Ketchup … my still-acclimating-to-healthy-eating-choices brain raced: Ketchup works on French fries. French fries are potatoes+death. Remove death and you still have potatoes. Ketchup!

And thus, it began.





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