J500 Media and the Environment

mm…the delicious taste of monosodium glutamate by Janie
January 30, 2009, 2:03 pm
Filed under: Food + Health

I couldn’t have felt any more a hypocrite.

I’m here at the library, having just read an enlightening article about the unknown and artificial origins of Twinkies, excited about writing a post about my frustration with processed foods…and I’m eating Hamburger Helper.

No joke.  Hamburger Helper.  Cheeseburger Macaroni to be exact.

I grew up in a household that prohibited Kool-Aid, Twinkies, and Bologna because of its obvious artificiality.  And yet Pop-Tarts, hot dogs, and frozen dinners received asylum in our kitchen.  Oblivious to the contents of the latter processed foods, we were victims of a society that popularized and even glorified its convenience as well as our own desires for a more efficient lifestyle.

Why bake pastries or make dinners when they came in prepared portions ready to microwave?  Why care about the fact that reading the ingredients in my lunch made me feel like I was reading a chemistry textbook?

I’ll admit, there are times where I don’t care.  Where the threat of eating mono-this and hydrogenated-that becomes overshadowed by the sweetness of a Twix.  And yet, there are more moments where simply knowing that my dinner was homemade with fresh, untainted ingredients trumps any thought of eating Easy Mac.  It all comes down to knowledge.

It is important that we think and learn about the artificial contents of what we eat, as well as the origins of those ingredients that seem so natural.  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (by Barbara Kingsolver) touches upon the unfortunate fact that most Americans have no idea where their food comes from.  Do peanuts grow in a tree?  What does an aspargus plant look like?

In order to combat smoking, ads are produced, PSAs are made, articles are written to reveal the harmful contents of cigarettes.  We say obseity is an epidemic, that the threat of toxic foods are on the rise, and yet most of the public remains ignorant of their food.

We couldn’t be more intimate with anything else.  We physically take our food into our body, absorbing it and allowing it to be part of who we are.  Isn’t it about time we give it our attention, for our own sakes?

Janie Chen

image from cartoonpress.com


5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I agree that the intimacy of food is what makes it such an important topic for people.

Comment by jessicasb

I love Hamburger Helper! You’re right, processed food is so common and so convenient, it’s hard to escape in this culture. And Kingsolver’s right: it’s a crime that I’d not be able to tell an asparagus from hemlock. Maybe I should take up gardening. not hemlock, though

Comment by justinl7

It has become a common goal of most Americans to get what they want and get it fast. That doesn’t leave much room for thoughtful preparation of food and instead dinner out of a box. My mom didn’t let us eat junk food either and that may be why I feel compelled to hit up the drive-thru more often than I’ll admit. For me it’s rebellion… and convenience … and I may be addicted to some of those delicious flavor enhancers.

Comment by christinaw09

Though I think it would be excellent if we could tell the difference between hemlock and asparagus, I think what’s most important is that we, as consumers and lovers of food, understand where it comes from and our role in the food chain, both ecologically and economically. We must be more aware of the repercussions of our actions and what our needs and wants translates into in the bigger picture.

Comment by janiec52

Anyone who agrees with this article, your well suited to join a unique group of people, of wich im working towards through collage. this Team as we call it in the industry is defined as Chefs.
I’m only a 19 yr old and im working to make a differance in peoples diets by encouraging local fresh foods and supporting our farmers. please contact me at slash_ismyhero@live.ca if u wanna discuss food related topics.

Comment by Ben Dean

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