Wednesday, October 29, 2008
This past weekend, we visited my husband's parents. I was a little concerned about the food, but not for the reason that you might think. Unless you know me. And you know something about fairly standard midwestern cooking. If you do, you may not need to read on. If you don't, but you aren't in the mood for sort of a food rant, you may not want to read on. If I'm coming off badly here, please understand that I was polite to my husband's parents and also kept my comments to my husband at a minimum because l am kind.
Friday was fine because we went out to dinner at the local brew pub which actually serves food. Saturday was kind of another story. I had brought my own Stonyfield Whole Milk yogurt and my home made granola because I was concerned about the yogurt that might be offered. I was glad I did too, because I have no intention of ever eating Dannon's Light and Fit Yogurt. I see that the vanilla flavor (the only one that I looked up) contains both added sugars (unnecessary) and sucralose (icky). She mentioned that she was buying organic Cheerios and Rice Crispies. I have no idea if these are name brand cereals or if they come from a store near their home which carries a lot of goods in bulk, some of which is local and/or organic. At any rate, I view all manufactured cereals as junk food, sugared or not, organic or not. It matters little.
Dinner had its good points and bad points. Salad was good. Home grown lettuce and carrots (theirs) and the last of the sungold tomatoes from our plants which I picked before we left Friday morning. No salad dressing available that didn't contain high fructose corn syrup, so I just applied it sparingly. The wild rice soup was fairly tasty, but full of ingredients that I wouldn't use. It called for Campbell's Cream of Potato Soup. It had two cups of grated cheese in it. And then there was the perplexing and oxymoronic Fat Free Half and Half with who knows what added to it to mimic the texture of real half and half. She thought it might need more salt. Really? With the 800mg of sodium in 1/2 cup of the canned soup alone? Did I want the recipe? No. I politely declined. We had squash from the garden which was baked and lightly buttered and sprinkled with cinnamon. I was glad to see that this fairly sweet vegetable was not deemed to require additional sugar. Then there were the pork chops. They may have been salted. They were then baked far too long. They needed help. My FiL deemed them bland and got out the Heinz 57 chicken and pork specific condiment. Mmmm. More high fructose corn syrup. No thanks.
Sunday morning at breakfast, the scrambled eggs were good because they contained a lot of vegetables. I looked across the kitchen and saw my mother in law buttering the toast. With real butter. Excellent. Then she said to my FiL that she was buttering them the way he liked them, not the way she did. I looked from one to the other trying to figure out what that meant. It apparently meant that they were lightly buttered. Then the plate of toast made its way to the table. I picked up a piece of toast and looked at the toast and then looked at my husband who was also looking at the toast. I put a piece of toast on my plate and my husband said to his mother, "I fail to see how you could have gotten more butter on there unless you had buttered both sides." He can do this because he is her kid. I was amused but quiet.
Before we went home, my MiL asked me if there was any kind of food that I didn't like giving the example that my sister in law doesn't like tomatoes. For me, this question and the answer is really complicated and I didn't think I could really answer it. Basically, I like food. I eat a really diverse diet including apparently more vegetables than a lot of the vegetarians I know. What I don't eat is food products with artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup or excessive added sugars of any sort, excessive sodium, odd thickeners, stabilizers or preservatives. When it comes to meat, I am interested to know what my food eats too. The meat comes directly from a farmer who believes in grass feeding for reasons of human and animal health as well as due to environmental concerns.
I don't really think that I could explain easily that when I am actually buying packaged and labeled food as opposed to whole foods that don't come with any sort of label the first place that I look on food labels is the ingredient list and that sometimes that is the only place I look. I am eating for weight loss at this point, but the bigger picture is that I am eating for health and that the sorts of things that I have learned from Nina Planck, Michael Pollan and from Marion Nestle to some extent often put my philosophy about food in significant opposition to what the FDA recommends including the food pyramid with regard to the number of servings of grain recommended and whether low fat and fat free dairy are healthier choices than their whole food counterparts in reasonable portions and certainly with regard to the health claims that are allowed to appear on our food labels.
I recall her telling the lady at the bulk food store that I was "into organic" several months ago, but I don't think her understanding of that runs deeper than things being labeled organic. For me, organic is more about what is NOT in the food than what is in it.
I guess I am done rambling for now...