A Ranting Bum

While having a lie-in due to a cold, I decided to watch the food related Ted Talks again. Sort of an encore and the best kind as food  is kind of my thing. During Jamie Oliver’s talk, I recalled 7th grade home economics.

Understand, I had been raised in a home where we loved food.  We loved growing it, cooking it, and finally, eating it. So, when Mrs. W lectured us about today’s “recipe” – how to grease the pan with margarine, snip the Pillsbury biscuits into pieces and coat in Ragu spaghetti sauce, I kind of lost it.

“This is what is wrong with America!” I said.

“Excuse me?!” she responded, turning from the chalkboard to glare at me.

“We eat this crap! That’s why we are unhealthy.”

This debate waged on. We debated about how good weight does not mean good health and how working people can cook healthy means. I was shy and this was quiet out of character for me back then. I was sent into the hall then Mrs. W came to confront me after she finished the lecture. I ended up getting an F that day and a grade of C overall.

So, at 5 we head to school to eat processed school lunches, sometimes breakfast too. Then at thirteen, we learn to ‘assemble’ food. When is this going to change?


Food! Oh, Fantastic Food!

On practically a daily basis, I call my friend, Josh, neglected. In fact, he is. Unlike my delicious childhood, Josh’s experiences with homemade food were less than ideal.  Think aerosol pancakes and food situations we shall just put in an ‘other’ category. Like many Americans, there are many ‘real foods’ he has never tried – or the first experience was so horrible, that path was not pursued again.

I learned most of my cooking skills from my mom.  Cooking has been a passion for me from such a young age.  I remember making scrambled eggs and various desserts at the age of 5. I love cooking food, eating food, and sharing food.

My parents and I would watch the cooking shows on PBS every Saturday morning.  Thank goodness for the new Create channel from PBS – now I can catch the cooking shows whenever! I do have to say, one of my favorites is America’s Test Kitchen.

America’s Test Kitchen tests recipes, types of food, etc. It’s a great way to see food analysis and learn about which ingredients are quality – and how price isn’t always indicative of quality!  I learned so much from their show about beef cuts (being a vegetarian, they somehow explained textures and consistency so I could understand).

Like any seasoned foodie, I have had my food flops, but I didn’t give up…not even after the crab rangoon Chris has mocked for 10 years now. After each mistake, which we all know are learning experiences, I analyze what went wrong, modify, or scrap and start over with the recipe.

Why do this? Because food is so amazing. This is one experience I wish more Americans would enjoy.  We eat all throughout the day, so why not enjoy it?  Why not enjoy what we are eating?  Actually be passionate about cooking great food and eating great food!

How does this strange obsession with good food possibly fit into geeky-me?  It does – very much so, because cooking is actually a science. Some argue an art, but the best cooking is done by understanding why things happen.  My bookshelves are filled with science books, including about 5 that pertain to cooking.  Here is a new one I intend to add to my shelf soon.

Get your kitchen dirty – have some fun.  Make some great food.  Be passionate about what you’re eating.

“Organic food is just another scam to grab more money from us”

The above quote is from a BBC article.  Some will read this quote and spread this false information.  Sad.

“Researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at all the evidence on nutrition and health benefits from the past 50 years.”
Yes, but what about the hormones that were introduced more recently.  Or what about other imports/exports and the experiences in other countries.  Mind you, the United States might just be number 1 with the amount of junk we allow in and on our food.

“The review did not look at pesticides or the environmental impact of different farming practices.”
Exactly.  It’s not just about the nutrition of the food, but the impact of the food on our body and on our home.  This planet is on loan to us from future generations.  Sure, we’ll be absorbed by our supernova Sun in a few billion years, but until that time, we need to help the planet last that long.

My Ongoing Love Affair

I have a confession.  I have an ongoing love affair with food.  I love food.  I love good food.  I love the food that makes you say, “This it the best I have ever had!”  Anymore, that experience is all too common.  It’s not a conscious recognition as it is the verbal food epiphany that occurs with the substance strikes the taste buds, but a chemical reaction in the brain.

Umami is the natural fifth taste we experience when we taste delicious food.  All too often, though, we Americans experience umami, but not the real thing.  It’s induced by monosodium glutamate.  This chemical is in so many foods – even where you wouldn’t imagine the salty substance would reside – and it alters our perception of food and out bodies.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) mimics the reaction of glutamic acid.  MSG can be hidden in ingredient lists under wording like:  artificial ingredients, other seasonings, other flavorings.  Organic and natural products may contain MSG as well, considering USDA Organic only requires 75% of the product to be organic and the term natural has no government standards attached.  Even products toting stickers on the front stating “MSG Free” or “No MSG” may contain MSG.  It seems as though the only way to find out what the product really contains it to contact the manufacturer.

On the Wikipedia website, MSG is not directly connected to illness; however, the financial stakes of the monitoring board of these inconclusive studies should be considered.  The article also states:

MSG as a food ingredient has been the subject of health studies. A report from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) compiled in 1995 on behalf of the FDA concluded that MSG was safe for most people when “eaten at customary levels”.

Customary levels is vague, and, being that an increasing amount of our foods contain MSG, customary is not a good indicator.  From literary research, I have found MSG to cause headaches from mild to severe, upset stomach, irritability, depression, and addiction to food containing MSG.  Several studies have correlated MSG intake to Body Mass Index.

I know this sounds extreme, but we are being drugged.  I know this is not the most horrific of crimes, but it is a crime against the masses.  Billions of people unknowingly ingest an addictive substance causing mental instability and other physical symptoms.  And all for the love of profit.

You eat food because of marketing.

You continue to eat food because your brain tells you it likes the umami the food created.

You buy more.

…rinse and repeat.

Chris and I have eliminated many chemicals from our household and purchase very few processed foods.  I now make my own food (bread, jams, salsa, ketchup, sauces, salad dressing, yogurt, cheese, cookies, desserts, cereal, peanut butter, doughnuts, bagels, pickles).  We want to enjoy real food.  The art of dining is becoming lost in this fast food nation full of instant everything.  Our effort is to go drug free by growing food, producing eggs and creating food from quality ingredients.