So here is something that has been bothering me for a while now: how and why have we allowed our culture’s food production values to get so badly out of sync with what we need?
I can honestly say I was lucky in how I was raised – my family never wanted for food, and I grew up during an era before corporate interests turned the food industry into the horror show it is today. I remember regularly eating home-cooked meals, or eating at restaurants where the cooks (before this was even as trendy as it is nowadays) would base their daily menu off what they could purchase fresh and at an acceptable quality.
Nowadays, in an era where corporate interests have pushed their way into controlling too much of our governments, the idea of ‘average’ restaurants cooking their own food is becoming more and more rare – now you *pay* for the privilege of having real food cooked for you by a restaurant’s COOKS, because it’s just easier and cheaper to buy it all from corporate suppliers. Never mind that all of a sudden you don’t really know the quality of the ingredients, what additives, preservatives, chemicals – whatever – are in the food, neither does the cook! Neither do the people who buy those convenience meals for at home! All you can do is trust that the companies involved are being 100% honest in their labeling, and really — when has a big company not been honest with us, the consumers? (Please, please don’t answer that…)
I hate it. I hate that I cannot walk into a store and look at something labelled “Vitamin Water” and take it at it’s face value. I hate that I cannot look at any list of ingredients and be entirely sure that everything is listed. Apparently, the FDA in the U.S. of A. apparently has fun rules on not having to list ingredients if they are in small enough quantities per portion – part of why portion sizes rarely match up with even single-serving items. The Canadian government is no better, allowing these food-ish items into our nation, and into our stores, no longer looking out for its citizens so much as trying to maintain good relations with the multinational corporations. Jamie Oliver, and other celebrity chefs, are doing what they can to try and draw attention to the problems inherent in our current system, but far too many people put blind faith that what you see is what you get, so that’s good enough, right? And I hate, hate, HATE that we live in a society that makes the nutritionally questionable corporate food-like substances more affordable than real food, thereby forcing too large a percentage of the population to eat what they’re given and not question it!
I am blessed with a job right now where I get to write my own menu, and choose my own ingredients — wherever possible, I make sure I’m getting food direct from the orchards, butchers, cheese-makers, etc., and as little as possible from the supermarket pre-packaged aisles. I am blessed with a wife who understands my feelings on this, and does her best to make sure our fridge now gets stocked with fresh vegetables, fruits, local meats, etc., so that we can cook our own quality foods. And, I am blessed to live in an area where the climate supports all the local growers, farmers, etc., so that I can have access to those foods without having to trust in corporate interests providing me with what they feel I need.
I suppose to me, it comes down to this — it is no secret that the corporate food industry has worked out the formulas to add the right amounts of sugar, fat and salt to make all their foods crave-able, no matter how little real quality ingredients are present. Myself, well… I have no magic formulas — I use as little processed sugar as possible, rarely use any fat except for butter or what I’ve rendered, and try to minimize the salt present as much as possible. Instead of those three things, I add fresh ingredients, spices, herbs, techniques and attention to detail, and do my best to craft something tasty where I, and my consumers, truly know what’s in the food.
Tasty, informed and transparent? Sign me up — that’s modern food I can love!