Food, Wine, Culture -Why all the fuss?
Recently I have been somewhat pungent with regards to US restaurants and food suppliers. I am confident that many have thought, “Who cares, these guys are just trying to make a buck?” My return to the US has been somewhat traumatic. The country I remember is no longer here. It is true, I was only 19 when I left and my perspective was different but there are some very visible changes.
Obesity has become a widespread problem, general health must have deteriorated significantly because everyone seems to be taking some kind of pill, and esthetic quality of kitchens has become more important than functionality. I understand how people can turn their head on the fact the lower 1/3 of our population has to work two jobs to pay the rent. I understand how we can be apathetic regarding political corruption. I even understand how one of our favorite past times can be talking about some television show but I cannot understand how we can not be concerned about the quality of food we eat.
We all have to eat, at least 1 time a day. If we do not we will die. At Thanksgiving last year I made a fresh pumpkin pie. That is, actually from a pumpkin and not canned pumpkin. My mother thought it was good but she could not understand why I would take the time, it is so convenient to just open a can!
Recently one of Raffaella’s colleagues asked her to try a new product from weight watchers. It was a small lemon sponge cake type desert saturated with some type of syrup. The company intended to begin carrying this product and wanted her opinion. That evening we split this mini cake.
The lemon flavor was evident and the syrup reminded me of an Italian Baba’ so while we would not purchase this it was not that bad. Five minutes later both of us were struck by the side effects of industrial production, sugar replacements and preservatives. An intense burning sensation, stomach rumbling and intense thirst! Raffaella’s coworker offered a suggestion, “Perhaps your stomachs have not been tempered enough.”
Frozen, freeze-dried, or other industry prepared foods are a business. The corporations that prepare them are always trying to decrease costs while maintaining sales. This process results in more and more synthetic elements most of which, over time, we have found are very bad for us. To compensate for the lack of flavor they add sugar or sugar supplements increasing the caloric content of the foods. Obviously this means that we eat, take on a lot of calories and, in the end, are not necessarily satisfied.
Industry will tell you that they have to do this otherwise people will not buy their foods. Using quality products would result in a cost that cannot be supported by the market. I think the Whole Foods and Central Market business models have disproved this. People will pay more for quality foods but our desire for corporate profits have eliminated local producers thus we no longer can get fresh fruit, except in rare occasions.
Try this experiment, buy two peaches, place one on the counter the other in the fridge. After three days the one on the counter will have gone bad without maturing. The one in the fridge will start showing signs of going bad but will not have matured either.
So, to the reason of my rants, in order to appease the consumer the producers are placing Italian names on their products. It is common knowledge that the Mediterranean diet is one of the most healthy diets in the world. Unfortunately, for us, the Mediterranean diet is based on fresh fruits and vegetables, something very difficult to find.
My message in all of this, tell our industry that we want wholesome foods, not just in name. Stop the false advertising, however innocent it may seem, our future health, and that of our children depends on it.
Tags: Weight Watchers Stouffers Obesity Italian Recipes Corporate Greed Healthcare Lemon Sauce Travel Italy