When you look at food, what do you see? When you look at a cookie or muffin, what do you notice about it? What makes you want to eat it? You see the gooeyness of the chocolate chips and the smell of sugar, and the golden-brown color that comes from cooking just the right amount of time in the oven. When you bite into it it is going to moist, sweet, rich, decadent, but how much of that taste is real and how much has been engendered?
When we eat food that is highly processed, we are eating food that has been labored over by dozens of people contemplating everything from how that package should look to how sweet it should be to how quickly it should dissolve in our mouths. Here is a great quote from Mike McCloud, a former executive from Coca-Cola:
Thirty years ago, he said, a triple chocolate muffin was made with real eggs, real chocolate, and real butter. It rich and flavorful, but it was also small. Then “greed took over” said McCloud, explaining a shift in attitude among food companies. Their new mindset: “I don’t want to sell a two once muffin that’s made with real butter. I want to make a five once muffin for pennies more and make more profit on it.” As a result, today’s muffins are much bigger, but most of the real ingredients are gone. Instead of butter they are likely to contain some blend of shortening and oil. Often the ingredient label will list “palm or coconut oil,” a clue that the manufacture is buying the ingredient that is cheapest at any given moment. Powered egg substitutes replace whole eggs, and an array of inexpensive, processed sweeteners are used. In lieu of real food, the industry is baking with “a chemical mix of preservatives and oil,” McCloud said. (The End of Overeating, Kessler Pg. 128-129)
This was the head of the biggest soft drink company in the world, saying that companies only care about selling more food that is made cheaply (and we wonder why Bloomberg wants to band super-sized drinks). This has happened across the board, sugar in soda was replaced with high fructose corn syrup, Cheetos are only made with a cheese powder, and fruit roll-ups contain no real fruit.
The point of all of this is that when you let the food industry, and by food industry I mean scientists, cook for you you are going to get food that is designed to be highly addicting and made from ingredients that no real chief would ever use and come in a size that is not a real portion. The executive from Coke even said it, the muffin from thirty years ago was made from real food and it was small, probably in a real serving size, unlike a Costco muffins, where each one has four servings.
One more quote from The End of Overeating to solidify my point, in reference to chicken in the meals at Chili’s restaurant:
Another common way to get marinade into meat is through needle injection. Hundreds of needles are used to pierce the meat, tearing up the connective tissue. “It’s been prechewed,” said Billy Rosenthal, former President of Standard Meat. (The End of Overeating, Kessler Pg. 71)
The next time you order meat at a chain restaurant and you comment on how juicy and tender it is, think that maybe a machine chewed that meat for you?
What all of this is coming to is the need to get back to two basic principles:
- Americans need to take back the spatula and start cooking again. “The average U.S. adult eats 4.8 meals per week in restaurants(UPI)”, which means that most people are eating the majority of their meals out. As we can see from the industry, when we let the industry make our food, the quality will be poor and we will be presented with double what we would eat at home.
- There needs to be a focus on whole foods (not the grocery store). If you can list the ingredients in about 80% of the foods on your plate then you know you are on the right track. Yesterday’s dinner I made from zucchini, eggs, tofu, mushrooms, and some Hoisin sauce. Other then the Hoisin sauce, the rest of my dinner was completely composed of whole foods of which I knew exactly what they were. When was the last time you at a meal at a restaurant and was sure you knew exactly how it was made?
In the end the age old adage is tried and true, you are what you eat.