Monday, October 5, 2009

Food! The True Story of an Edible Murderer

There was a time in the not too distant past when people didn’t give a damn about what they ate. Well they wanted a good tasty meal but they didn’t care if it was organically grown, or pesticide free. Actually they sought out foods that were chemically enhanced. It was a time when Tang was the drink of the future and not the last name of your dentist. As a person with a strong gut I’m usually not worried about what I eat. Heck the three second rule depends on the floor and the food that fell.

There has been a recent spate of books written about the evils of food. After having bought “Fast Food Nation” my Amazon recommendations were filled with titles such as "Bitter Chocolate", "Citrus" and "Banana" amongst countless others. They have become as formulaic as a romantic comedy starring Matthew McConaughey or Jennifer Aniston. Just like a wise cracking fat friend or a rainy kiss you can count on the following plot points in any “Food is Bad!” book.

1. What the crop was used for before the colonial powers took over the land
2. How the colonial power raped the crop and the native people
3. The Evil American company that replaced the colonial power and continues to destroy the land and underpay the natives
4. How the evil American company has found chemical additives to replace or enhance the original crop
5. How the chemical additive gives you cancer
6. The terrible conditions in the factories that produce the food
7. The lackadaisical government response to the evil corporations
8. An uplifting story of a small business which is doing things the right way. Keywords include fair trade, organic, locally grown and Vermont

After awhile it becomes a haze if it was Archer Daniels Midland that underpays cocoa growers in the Congo or slaughterhouse workers in Illinois.

Then I read a story about a girl who ate a burger and ended up paralyzed. Apparently the all beef Angus Burger made by Cargill included pieces from 3 or 4 sources. If the slack jawed employees in Omaha or Uruguay who may be high on meth aren’t careful feces will end up on the beef and you won’t be able to walk. Ironically the ingredients on the container read simply “beef” and do not include the words “slaughterhouse trimmings”, “fatty trimmings treated with ammonia”, or “E. coli”. It’s not only frozen burgers that come from a variety of sources but much of the ground beef purchased in your local supermarket.

This followed on the story I heard about the freshness of orange juice. As detailed in the book “Juiced”, your carton of Tropicana is about as fresh as using a romantic comedy plotline to ridicule an overused cliché. Tropicana has an iconic logo of an orange being skewered by a straw. This would make you believe that the juice is freshly squeezed as would the words “Freshly Squeezed” on the carton. Unfortunately a more realistic image would have to include a straw skewering a vat of pasteurized orange liquid while a scientist adds a chemically enhanced flavour pack. This is not a process which is not a recent innovation but part of Tropicana since the fifties. Maybe I was naïve to think that a product with a 90 day shelf life was fresh. Well a price tag double that of Juice from concentrate and a logo with ingredients that simply say “Orange Juice” aren’t exactly a giveaway to a product that is really as natural as Orange Crush. Guess I’ll have to get my fingers dirty and peel my own damn oranges.

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