Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I have yet to weigh in on the 'real food' phenomenon, so here it goes...
I am a big fan of language. Words matter to me and I try to be very measured in what I type or say. Now I don't want to get into the whole sender-receiver model of communication, but it's important that the words we say are understood by the receiver to have the same meaning. So when someone says something is hot, it's important whether the receiver thinks you mean temperature or flavor.
CNN picked up on a blogger's challenge to eat only real food for a month http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/02/23/real.food.challenge/index.html?hpt=C1
Within the article, they define real food as not processed foods. They actually say what real food isn't and not what real food is, which I think is intriguing. They define processed food as: "... any food that has undergone a change of character. For example, edamame would be unprocessed, and tofu would be processed."
Processed foods are foods that have a process applied to them. This includes rinsing, chopping, heating, freezing, beating (as in sheer force aka meringue or butter), or sanitizing. Unless you eat your organic grown veggies whole without cooking them, you are eating a processed food.
Any milk that isn't raw would also be considered processed, and therefore, not 'real'.
This can't be the intended definition of real food though, right? Seems a bit too strict, paranoid, and in many instances - dangerous. What do they really mean by 'real food'?
I'll take a crack at it.
They mean guilt free, non-corporate, and pretty.
These labels that the ironically labeled foodies put forth are a complicated mix of all the vitriol and mistrust they feel about the world around them. You see, they feel the corporations are all corrupt and are conspiring to poison the masses and control them through their fake foods. Let's run down the list of these corporate supported evils, shall we?
Instant potatoes - [gasp] The absolute worst. You should be ashamed if you don't have an hour to peel and boil potatoes, then mash them with cream.
**reality** They are mashed potatoes. They're just drum dried (dehydrated) so that they are shelf stable.
American Cheese Singles - Too lazy to invest in a good cheese slicer? No self respecting foodie would be caught dead with this in their refrigerator!
**reality** Developed in Europe, American cheese is made of the melted remnants of other cheeses. It's now made in a more consistant way, but isn't technically a vat cheese. Whether sliced off a block or peeled from the plastic, American Cheese melts better than most and has a mild flavor profile, making it ideal for sandwiches.
Sugar - Did you know that sugar makes everybody fat, causes diabetes, and probably hates minorities. It's so evil, because it's processed.
**reality** I prefer to use sugar that has been inspected, purified, and separated from most pebbles, dirt, and insect parts. Sugar is a food for fermentation also, resulting in alcohol, carbon dioxide, or both. Sugar sweetens foods, helps it brown when baked, and binds free water - making it safe from certain microorganisms.
Real food is anything you eat and digest that offers calories and/or nutrition(carbs, vitamins, proteins, fats). When you hear someone talk about 'real food', your ears should perk up and you should start asking questions. You'll almost always find hidden motives, agendas, and irrational paranoia just below the surface.