Granola as Metaphor

Granola, like the music of Bruce Cockburn and the seductive subliminal possibilities of The Vegetarian Epicure Cookbook, was my ticket out. Out of the suburbs, out of childhood, out of normativity.

Granola. It was so hard to get, when you lived on Featherston Drive in Ottawa in 1975. I had to smuggle it past the border cops (my ma, my siblings), eat it on the sly. As I got bolder, I felt less ashamed about pleasuring myself: I made my own. Granola: metaphor and metonym. It prepared me for the more unruly and unsanctioned pleasures soon to be provided by the neon lights, feminist collectives, lesbian bars, and art communities of 1980s Toronto.

In Eugene Oregon for the Console-ing Passions Conference on Television, Audio, Video, New Media, and Feminism this past week, I had a granola-flashback. It lasted four days and began with breakfast, of course. The B&B I stayed, Secret Garden Inn, makes their own granola, and eating that textural, tasty and no-too-sweet concoction strengthened me for the long hours of social and scholarly labour ahead.

Sarah Palin showed up in Eugene during my visit, and was greeted by protesters including the feminist group Code Pink. Palin snidely claimed to be a granola-eater too, as well as a consumer of fresh-killed organic food.

Her presence in this hippie-ish university town underscored the heartbreaking contradictions of this nation for which I have so much affection and history (progressive fellow scholars, artists, feminists) and whose official national project is so fraught with contempt for low-income and racialized people. A perusal of The New York Times reveals a death-row convict who will be killed by firing squad, new legislation in Arizona making it a crime for immigrants to not have their papers on them (seriously, wouldn’t a red star sewn on all their clothes be easier?) and a plethora of corporate-owned charter schools, the new educational normal. Oh, America.

Granola flashback #2: I popped into Eugene’s Saturday Market, a veritable museum of tie-dye, candlemaking and stoneware pottery. Youths and older ladies in hemp-ish gowns danced to fiddle music. A man with a grey beard sold me an exquisite pot of artisan sweet-chili goatcheese, pride and satisfaction in his every gesture.

Later, dropping into an organic food store for airplane snack supplies, I saw the biggest display of granola ever. Granola of every stripe, raw, cooked, with or without gluten, everyday and fancy.

I left Eugene in the wee hours of the following morning, a baggie of Secret Garden granola and a hand-written recipe thoughtfully slipped into my room.

Secret Garden B&B Granola Recipe

Preheat oven to 325 degrees

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey
3 tspn cinnamon
1/2 tspn nutmeg
4 cups oats
1/2 cup chopped almonds (or other nuts or seeds)

Mix sugar, honey and spices in a small pot and place over low heat until honey is melted.

Combine oats and almonds in a large bowl. Pour sweet mixture over top and mix until combined with wooden spoon.

Place mixture on 2 baking trays and place in preheated oven, stirring frequently, for 15-20 mins.

Remove from oven and add 1/2 cup coconut shaving and 1/2 cup chopped dried fruit if desired.


  1. Thanks for the recipe. I persuaded the Croquet Expert to try it out for her own B n B. We reduced the sugar by half though…. It’s easier (though still sweeter) than her usual recipe which involves an 8 hour slow roast with hourly stirrings. We’ll let you know how the B n B guests take to it this weekend.

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