The Brilliant Mind of Edison Lee on the brilliant marketing of junk food.
Saw a thing the other day on Facebook claiming that mayonnaise doesn't go bad but that onions'll kill yez. Of course, it turned out to be mostly bogus, but I like the idea of a guy who makes commercial mayonnaise proudly explaining that, unlike the real kind, his product cannot sustain living organisms.
Still, as noted here just a few months ago, even the supposed healthy eaters among us have a substantial capacity to talk themselves into accepting junk food, as long as it is their own style of junk food.
That link will take you to several pretty funny cartoons and an epic rant on the topic, but here's the hard fact: Turbinado sugar is sugar. You may prefer it for its taste or for any number of reasons, including how the pale beige crystals match your unbleached cotton tablecloth, but it's still sugar.
A reasonable level of treats is perfectly acceptable. But people should really watch their level of bullshitting themselves. Accept the fact that sometimes food is a treat and don't beat yourself up trying to justify it.
Come to think of it, Edison Lee wife-and-colorist Anne Hambrock featured "The best best BEST molasses cookie recipe" on her blog recently. She's not promoting it as health food. But it is 100% food.
So here's where I have a problem with the crap on the shelf: Most convenience food isn't all that convenient. The difference between Minute Rice and regular rice is mostly that Minute Rice tastes like shredded cardboard. It isn't any more convenient unless the house is on fire and you're trying to get the rice cooked before you have to race out the door.
For white rice, you put some rice and water, maybe a little oil, in the microwave, choose a setting that will get it to boil but not boil over, and go have a glass of wine. When you come back to look, you might have to hit it for another 30 seconds to sop up the rest of the water.
For brown rice, three glasses of wine, and hit it for a minute when you go to pour each. (Admittedly, this recipe may somewhat offset the health benefits of brown over white rice.)
And the difference between instant oatmeal and regular oatmeal is whether you mix the water and oats before or after you boil the water. Given the difference in flavor, that's just damned foolishness.
Steel-cut oats -- Irish style -- takes longer, and three glasses of wine at that hour is probably not a good idea. But I had a girlfriend who liked that kind of oatmeal and we'd put the oats in a double boiler in the morning, boil it, turn it off and then go walk the dogs.
(We would have eaten Kashi in the morning, but we were both white and, as you can see from the packaging, Kashi is formulated for people in mixed-race relationships. Couples go through the Kashi section of the cereal aisle saying, "Let's see, I'm a Pacific Islander and you're African-American ... no ... no ... Ah! Here's OUR special flavor!")
(I also like the fact that some stores have a sign in the cereal aisle designating "adult cereals." Snap, Crackle and Porn?)
The latest health thing is being gluten-free, which is a genuine health problem for a much, much smaller percentage of the population than have embraced the fad, but the grocery shelves are filled with gluten-free products now, including a few that actually involved changing a recipe, mostly swapping out a wheat-based thickening agent with one derived from coal.
The rest involved adding "Gluten Free!" to something that would logically be expected to be gluten free anyway, much along the lines of putting "No cholesterol!" on a jar of pickles.
Note, by the way, that high blood pressure is a much more serious and widespread health problem in our society, but, since most of the flavor in convenience foods is based on salt, you only see a few "low sodium" foods and mostly in very small, costly containers.
In any case, most convenience food is not particularly convenient and the fact that it doesn't taste as good as fresh-made is another reason why there are entire aisles of the grocery store that can be skipped.
Maybe the grocery store itself should have a sign that says "Contains 10% Real Food."
PS -- Just back from the Co-op and discovered that Kashi no longer has the United-Cereals-of-Benetton box design anymore. Which messes up the joke but proves that, indeed, there are entire aisles I don't walk down very often.
Meanwhile, on the sidewalk outside ...