Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Eating Omily: Take Back the Kitchen. Take Back Humanity

In case you were wondering, my obsession with Let's Get Real with Erica Wides is still on-going (two and a half episodes yesterday; more on the docket for today! It's the only thing that will get me to mop the floors).  If you missed the blog post where I informed you that you, too, should be obsessed with this show, and with the entire Heritage Radio Network, see this post (and scroll past the first part about pantry-stocking, unless you haven't read it yet in which case, pay attention!).
Erica Wides has been building this concept in the last several episodes (that I've been listening to; I'm way behind, at like, episode 22 or something...) that she calls the 'foodiness firewall'.  I know, 'what the hell is that?' This is why you need to listen to the show.  First of all, she uses the word, 'foodiness', the same way Stephen Colbert uses the word, 'truthiness.'  Foodiness is stuff that we're being told is food, healthy food even, but it's not food.  It's packaged, colored, flavored, processed, and just.  Not.  Food.

Alright, but what's a 'foodiness firewall'?  The foodiness firewall is something that these massive foodiness companies are purposefully constructing between you and your food, and the younger you are, the more thoroughly that structure was in place from early childhood on.  The foodiness firewall stands between you and real food, and prevents you from having a concept of what real food is.

Erica Wides uses the example of the students she used to teach in Cullinary School going to the refridgerator and looking for a tub or can in order to add whipped cream to a recipe.  They had no concept that whipped cream is just that: cream that has been whipped.  They also went there looking for bottled lemon juice, instead of for lemons.

This does not make them bad people!  It's not really their fault!  They were trapped behind the firewall!  But what's mind blowing about this example is that these are CULINARY STUDENTS: people who, at least theoretically, are really into food.  Your average high school student may never have thought about where whipped cream comes from, but, really?  Someone who's paying the big bucks to go to culinary school and work in the cooking/food business?

Basically, the Foodiness Firewall is where these companies keep selling us these convenient, pre-made versions of foods long enough that we forget where the foods actually come from.  Think about it: can you tell me what's in granola?  Did you even know that granola is a thing, all by itself, and that companies like to add lots more sticky sugar syrup to it, and then smash it into a bar, to make it easier to eat, hence, the 'granola bar'?  I distinctly remember learning that 'granola' isn't an ingredient, a single kind of grain or something, but was actually a baked snack made up of many ingredients, with thousands of different kinds, depending on the tastes and budget of the baker.   Of course, the guys making our granola these days generally have huge budgets...and yet the granola we're getting is the cheapest, most run-of-the-mill bland stuff you can make.
And it gets worse.  Think about juice.  How many millions of children have grown up with their only concept of juice being colored, flavored sugar water?  How are these kids supposed to know that juice is the liquid inside of fruits and vegetables?  If these kids are ever offered a healthy green juice, they'll likely reject it because the only juice they know is the crap foodiness kind.

When I started putting this idea together, I felt so, so angry.  These food companies are taking away from us a huge part of what makes us human: learning to cook foods like meat, grains, and tough vegetables is what allowed us to get enough nutrients to grow big brains and become humans as we know them. And now these companies are forcing us backwards.  They don't want us to know how to cook rice, chicken (or beans), and broccoli, all at once, so that they're done around the same time, and all fit together into a whole healthy meal, because if we know that, we might not buy their more expensive, less healthy crap frozen dinner version.

Every time you buy a pre-made meal, or snack instead of applying basic skills and creativity to some ingredients, you're allowing the food companies to move us just a little further away from our humanity.

That may sound extreme.  I mean, why would the food company want us to be less human?  What's in it for them?

Well, if we knew we could just buy cream, one ingredient fro ma cow, and apply a whisk, and maybe some sweetener, we may not buy the tub of chemically altered hydrogenated oils instead.  We may think to ourselves, "Hmmm...non-dairy whipped topping?  If it's not dairy...what the hell is it?  I don't think I want to eat it..."  But if we don't really know that whipped cream starts as cream, from a cow, in the first place, the idea of whipped, sweetened hydrogenated oils doesn't seem so strange.

If we don't know how to cook, if we can't tell ingredients from prepared food items anymore, we'll have no use for the produce aisle: we'll be completely dependent on these companies to feed us, companies who don't care even the slightest iota how healthy and happy you and your families are.  How scary is that?

So, there's much more at stake than supporting your local economy, and getting the best, tastiest, healthiest food available.  We as human beings are at stake.  Even if you have to go to a grocery store, buy some honest-to-goodness unpackaged FOOD, and make something for yourself. You can do it.  It's not that hard.  Click the 'recipe' tag in the right hand column of this blog to get some seasonal, affordable, and easy ideas.

Tonight we're having whole baked pogy fish served with tomato-tomatilla-nectarine salsa, with raw red beet and bell pepper soup as a starter.

It sounds complicated and fancy, but two of those items only need to be chopped, and the third only needs coated in oil and stuck in a preheated oven for under ten minutes.  Seriously, you can do this.  Next week, I'll give you the whole rundown with pictures.

Good luck!  You'll be great. :-)

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