Saturday, March 13, 2010

Treats? Realism? Help me out here.

I found this article interesting:

What's Really In Your Food?
Learn the truth about these four fast-food favorites.

By David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding, Men's Health

It's not groundbreaking news, to be sure. We all know that fast "food" is not actually food, but laboratory-designed chemicals mixed with barely edible processed ingredients that once were food, if such a word can be applied to diseased, abused, malnourished animals. What interested me more than the article was the comments, especially this one by "AC Vader":

I realize some people don't have the will to cut back but it's actually pretty easy to avoid this stuff. I'm never the one to say completely eliminate it from your diet because I think that is unrealistic for most. But I don't think eating this stuff 2-4 a month is that bad. In fact I think it is pretty healthy to "treat" yourself every once in a while.

I hear this sort of thing a lot, that it isn't "realistic" to avoid the manufactured garbage and eat food. This mentality is echoed in several other comments, such as those who responded to the contention that a milkshake should just consist of milk and ice cream by squealing, "But look what's in the ice cream!" Ice cream itself SHOULD contain milk or cream, sugar or honey, and whatever fruit or other food you want to mix in with it. But packaged foods and corporate marketing have so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that we now assume that everything originally comes out of a box. I guess that's why so many people assume that it's "unrealistic" to stick to eating real food.

I still don't get it though. Why is it unrealistic? It takes me just as long to make a sandwich as it takes to drive to McDonald's, wait in the drive-thru or the line, order the so-called "food," and pay for it. Actually, I'm pretty sure the sandwich is quicker. We all know it's healthier, and we're all in agreement that homemade tastes better - even the people who've never set foot in their own kitchens rave over my homecooked food and say they wish they could cook. Well, they can. Like my mom always says, "If you can read, you can cook" - recipes and cookbooks aren't privileged information or anything. So why not?

Which brings me to the other part of the comment I quoted above... that it's "healthy to treat yourself" to processed garbage food. Is there anyone out there over the age of seven who honestly enjoys McDonald's as a TREAT? (And the kids only like it because of the marketing, not because of the food itself.) We all know what McDonald's tastes like, and it's tasteless, sickly stuff. The whole point of it is the fact that you can just cram it into your craw and not feel hungry anymore. What part of that is a treat? What happened to chocolate, wine, cinnamon rolls, fresh berries in summer?

Is our culture really so far gone that we can't conceive of food that never had a bar code on it, and a lump of chicken-flavored guar gum fried in genetically-modified canola and shoved at you by a snarling teenager counts as a treat? Please tell me there is more hope for us than that!


  1. Ugh. I think it's totally unrealistic to say that we "need" to treat ourselves to junk food. The best food I've had all month was fresh strawberries -- and they sure as hell didn't come from McD's!
    However, I do understand that the poorer one tends to be, the worse the eating habits are. It's certainly cheaper to eat at fast food than to shop at a grocery store, especially for a family.

  2. I don't know that I agree with that, actually. If you eat packaged food, then yeah, fast food is cheaper than organic healthy stuff. But if you cook, it really isn't that big of a difference - bulk dried beans, rice, briskets and other tough cuts (to braise until tender), homemade bread, that stuff is pretty darn cheap. Of course it does involve a time investment but that's the difference between nutrition and garbage.

    And ooh, where on earth did you find good strawberries in March?! Sign me up! I love fresh berries!!