I have posted a rant about Big Food, Badvertising, and corporate idiocy over at First Draft today: Capitalism Has Failed. Catch me over there.
Category Archives: food
You know how I always say voting for people who hate government is akin to shopping at a vegan butcher shop? Well, one would think that might be the idea behind this London butcher’s shop, where faux human “meat” kinda makes me not want to eat any kind of meat, not for a good, long while.
In honor of Meatless Monday, I give you Wesker and Son, located in London’s Smithfield Market. Click on the link for some really, um, interesting photos. And I’ll post this one picture, just ’cause I’m mean:
So, what gives? Is this butcher shop courtesy of PETA? Sadly, no:
Annnnnnnd there are the penises. If you’re currently howling “whyyyyyyyyyy?” the answer is “because the Resident Evil 6 video game.” This shop is basically a fucked-up marketing gimmick. Which hardly seems like a sufficient reason.
Oh. A video game. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that?
America’s “obesity crisis” has many causes but dammit, people, this can’t help:
I took this picture at the local Harris Teeter the other day, but it could easily have been taken at Kroger, Safeway, Ralph’s, or any other mega grocery chain. The never-ending “buy-one, get-one FREE” sale on potato chips has puzzled me for a long time: it’s not even accurate to call it a sale anymore, because they’re just always sold that way. And it’s been this way for years.
Ya know, I don’t ever see a buy-one, get-one deal on broccoli or spinach. Just sayin’, guys.
I really despise junk food, fast food, frankenfood, you name it but I do have a weakness for Lay’s sour cream & onion potato chips. I don’t always eat potato chips but when I do … you get the picture. And if I pick up a bag of these, the check-out clerk never fails to remind me, “Hey, they’re buy-one, get-one free!”
To which I respond: “But I only want one bag.”
At which point he or she looks at me like I just dropped in from the planet Xthazgarban and forgot to deploy my Humanoid Lifeform Image Shield.
Look: it’s great to tell people they need to have “personal responsibility” and make healthy food and lifestyle choices. It’s great to inform people about what’s in their food by posting nutritional information everywhere. It’s fine that people in Washington are talking about the impact farm policy has on what ends up on our store shelves. Great, but at the same time you’re doing all that good stuff, we’ve got another conversation happening in the grocery aisle which goes something like this:
“You want some potato chips? C’mon, you know you do. You really, really want some. Look how pretty and bright we are! Here, take two! The second one is free, it’s on us! For later. No, really, take it. You know you want to. Take it! TAKE THE DAMN POTATO CHIPS!“
Yeah, that’s about how this goes. What does it say about America when the junk food companies are literally giving their product away? Look, I know it just kills you that consumers are educated enough to be turned off by ads like this one, but you can stop shoving your crap in my face now.
Oh, and Regal Cinemas? That goes for you, too. Stop making your employees ask if I want a slice of pizza when I order a bottle of water. If I wanted damn pizza I’d have asked for some.
Hey, Coca Cola: Big Tobacco called, they want their playbook back.
Seriously, I’m trying to figure out what the point was behind this interview with Katie Bayne, Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America (yes, that’s her title). I guess it’s better than working behind the scenes with one of Rick Berman’s phony front groups, like the “Center for Consumer Freedom” — except of course Coca-Cola is operating in that shadow realm, too. But whatever.
Anyway, I’m sure it will come as news to no one that Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America thinks sugary sparkling beverages are so waaay awesome and there’s no scientific evidence that they’re harmful to your health! None! In fact, this is what Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America feeds her family! For realz!
Now, before I dive into this, I think Mayor Bloomberg’s proposed ban on supersized soft drinks is a tad too authoritarian for my tastes. But I understand his frustration, because even though we all know better, millions of Americans still drink this crap. So clearly the whole “education” route hasn’t worked. As for me, I say: tax the shit out of it. Tax all of it, just like we do cigarettes and alcohol, put the money toward health and nutrition programs. There’s no reason for the bad stuff to be more affordable than the good stuff. That’s the definition of “doing it wrong.”
But all that aside, I also think it’s incredibly lame to give Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America, a platform to spread misinformation and corporate propaganda. Get a load of this:
Q: Is there any merit to limits being placed on the size of sugary drinks folks can buy?
A: Sugary drinks can be a part of any diet as long as your calories in balance with the calories out. Our responsibility is to provide drink in all the sizes that consumers might need.
That’s utter bullshit. There are 273 calories in a Snickers bar. You can also eat 273 calories worth of chicken and broccoli. Let’s see which one has more nutritional value. Perhaps Coca-Cola’s President and General Manager, Sparkling Beverages in North America would like to eat one of these for lunch every day for a month? Let’s see which she picks.
Q: But critics call soft drinks “empty” calories.
A: A calorie is a calorie. What our drinks offer is hydration. That’s essential to the human body. We offer great taste and benefits whether it’s an uplift or carbohydrates or energy. We don’t believe in empty calories. We believe in hydration.
Again, bullshit. If you want hydration, drink water.
This was my favorite:
Q: How much Coke should a kid drink a day?
A: We don’t make recommendations on what kids should drink. But a 12-ounce can of Coke has 140 calories, the same as a lunch-box-size bag of pretzels.
Those are our options? How about some apples and almond butter?
The entire article goes on in this “perfectly fine as part of a balanced diet” vein, an absolute sop to the Coca-Cola Corporation and Big Food. I can’t imagine why USA Today did this. Were they afraid of losing ad revenue? Seriously, when the Summer Olympics are upon us, let’s ask how many of athletes include 32 oz. Coke as part of their training diet. I’d say, none.
I don’t drink a lot of soft drinks, obviously. Maybe four times a year I’ll get a hankering for a sugary Coke or a Dr Pepper. If I do, I try to find the Mexican Coke, made with cane sugar not corn syrup. It just tastes better to me. Mr. Beale, on the other hand, used to be a Pepsi fanatic. He’d guzzle the stuff by the gallon. Once while at the beach I had one of his Diet Pepsis. It tasted nasty and was so salty, it never quenched my thirst. In fact, I found myself craving another one almost immediately. That’s when I realized this shit is like crack in a cup. No, it’s not part of a healthy balanced diet. No it’s not okay in moderation because there is no moderation. Once you start you can’t stop.
And what’s really not okay is you guys presenting your crack in a cup as a perfectly wholesome, normal thing for people to consume on a regular basis. It’s really not okay for USA Today to print this corporate propaganda and pretend they’re offering “news.”
Mark Bittman’s column on this issue is a must read.
Not a hoax, apparently this is a real thing. You gotta love a cookbook that includes a chicken recipe submitted by a vegetarian. What could possibly go wrong?
Mrs. Sciulli, despite being a vegetarian, contributed to the 2009 edition Golfer’s Chicken, a dish made of chicken parts coated with powdered onion soup mix, salad dressing and apricot jam. “You have to fall off the wagon now and again,” she said.
I think I just threw up in my mouth.
For the traditional White House Super Bowl Party, what about Spicy Crackers? The cookbook says they are simple: Empty a box of saltine crackers into a jug, add 1½ cups of oil, 3 tablespoons of crushed red pepper flakes and a package of dry Ranch dressing mix. Roll the jug around to mix the contents, “allow the crackers to set for several hours and then, enjoy!”
I’d love to but I’m still trying to figure out how to get the damn saltines inside a jug.
This cracked me up:
Peggy Paul said some Ron Paul supporters have told the family they framed their cookbooks. “But then,” she said, “how would you use it?”
Indeed! Then again, the executive chef of Washington’s Ritz-Carlton hotel told the Wall Street Journal he tried a few of the recipes and thinks the book is better framed on the wall than used for meal planning.
An Oklahoma lawmaker files a bill to ban the making and selling of food or products that use aborted human fetuses.
State Senator Ralph Shortey says he’s done research and found reports that companies have used stem cells in the research and development of food.
“I don’t know if it is happening in Oklahoma, it may be, it may not be. What I am saying is that if it does happen then we are not going to allow it to manufacture here,” says Shortey.
The lawmaker that represents Oklahoma County couldn’t give any specific examples.
Well, thank God for Oklahoma. Because just when you think Tennessee has become a national laughingstock for stuff like, I dunno, filing a bill that would take away the courts’ ability to declare a state law unconstitutional, along comes Oklahoma to do something even crazier.
Here’s a thought for legislators: just because you read something in Newsmax or Wingnut Daily, that doesn’t mean you need to pass a law about it. Sometimes these folks — I know, hard to believe — are yanking your chain.
For his next trick, State Senator Ralph Shortey will outlaw Bonsai Kittens.
Mr. Beale was thrilled to learn that House Republicans have reclassified pizza as a vegetable. After all, I’m constantly nagging at him to eat his vegetables and reminding him of all the health benefits of adding fresh, organic produce to his diet. Now he just needs to wave that slice of meat lovers, stuffed-crust pizza in my face — with extra cheese. Ha ha!
Thanks a lot, House Republicans.
Seriously, this is some crazy shit right here. I realize it’s for the purposes of school lunches. But if you’re sending your kids to school and don’t want them saddled with diabetes and heart disease by the time they’re 20, I don’t think telling them the vegetable of the day is pizza is the way to do it. Maybe it’s just me.
Okay, raise your hand: who thinks this wasn’t just the House Republicans’ “fuck you” to Michelle Obama? I do. It’s just modern-day hippie-punching, with a twist.
I’m old enough to remember when Ronald Reagan classified ketchup as a vegetable. Well, who says Republicans don’t like recycling? We laughed then and we’re laughing now. Okay, first of all, tomatoes are a fruit, technically — not a vegetable. But second of all, by the time it’s been processed with liberal doses of sodium and corn syrup and turned into ketchup or pizza sauce, only an idiot would try to pretend it’s a vegetable.
Can’t believe I’m even bothering to explain this. Le Sigh.
Which brings to mind something else: Republicans are always lobbying against things like junk food taxes and laws mandating posting calorie counts in fast food restaurants. Their argument is, “well, everyone knows McDonald’s and KFC are bad for you! Personal responsibility, people!” But then they go ahead and tell everyone pizza is a vegetable? A little hypocritical, don’tcha think?
I’m not shocked that people might be confused about the dubious health benefits of a Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad (770 calories, 42 grams of fat, and a whopping 1,350 mg. of sodium and 74 grams of carbs. Yeesh.) It says “salad” in the name!
No wonder people are confused: they tune into a popular TV show like The Biggest Loser and see eight-time Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Ono hawking Subway sandwiches — featuring chemically-laden, processed meats and genetically modified ingredients! I read Ono’s autobiography, and I promise you when training for the Olympics (in which he lost a pound a week and got down to 2% body fat) he did not eat processed meats and genetically modified foods.
Oh yeah, all this shit at the local strip mall is sooo healthy! And good for the planet, too! Yeah, Big Food has caught on to what the public wants, but instead of changing the way they do things, they’ve just changed advertising slogans. Free hand of the market, my ass.
Case in point: have you seen this ad from Chipotle, the fast food chain that claims to be so healthy and sustainable? I saw it at the movie theater. It’s got so many liberal dog whistles, from the Willie Nelson soundtrack to depiction of mechanized agri-business, that I immediately knew I was supposed to feel all warm and fuzzy toward Chipotle. Instead, I felt manipulated and offended, since I know Chipotle hawks the same genetically-modified crap as everyone else:
Pizza is not a vegetable and Subway is not health food and Chipotle is not dishing up sustainable burritos. But no wonder people are confused: it’s how the food industry wants it:
Q. On your blog you say, “confusion is one of the tried and true tools of the processed foods industry.” Can you say more about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways these companies confuse us?
A. I think one of the main ways the processed food industry is trying to grow and defend their business is by funding self-serving research. The goal of these studies isn’t to uncover “the truth” or to improve public health. Instead, the research is carefully constructed to create sound bites and statistics to help market their products or combat potential regulation. This is one of the primary ways we end up with conflicting studies that confuse consumers on what they should eat or drink.
Is this purposeful misdirection? Intent is always tough to prove, especially if you don’t have firsthand knowledge. Research tends to be the work of a select few within processed food companies, and I was never part of one of those groups. That said, if you dig into these studies and their methodology, you can usually find the telltale signs of how they have “stacked the deck” in their favor.
Q. What are three things you think every consumer should know about Big Food?
A. Big Food is profit-driven. Don’t be fooled into thinking a brand or the food company that owns it cares about you or your health.
Think critically. Most claims and advertising by Big Food companies are meant to manipulate you, not educate you. Read your labels and do your research.
There is no free lunch. Over the long-term, you always get what you pay for. Cheap food is very expensive once you add up the true costs — like the taxes you pay to subsidize Big Food companies, health consequences like obesity or diabetes, the devastating harm to our environment, and the inhumane treatment of animals raised within the industrialized food system.
Amen to that. I’m so fucking tired of being manipulated by Corporate Food and their minions in Congress, and then having everyone tell us we should know better. You know, we would know better if you didn’t constantly lie to us across a dizzying array of media platforms.
Obesity is a huge problem in this country and it is affecting the national health and welfare. But it goes way beyond obesity. These Frankenfoods that the corporate food industry is shoving down the American gullet are everywhere, even in supposed “health foods.” And the corporate food industry is purposely confusing us so we’ll just shut up and eat our cruel gruel like good little robots.
Well, I’m not shutting up. And I’m not buying your fake food, either.
>As my readers know, I deplore fast food. It’s bad for the people who eat it, it’s bad for the people who grow it, it’s bad for the people who harvest it, it’s bad for the neighborhoods where the restaurants are located. It’s just bad. I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say a big problem with America today is the prevalence of fast food.
“Where’s the beef?” Wendy’s restaurants once famously asked through its advertising, a swipe at its competitors’ burgers.
The same question is now being asked by a California woman regarding Taco Bell’s beef products, which she claims contain very little meat. So little, in fact, that she’s brought a false-advertising lawsuit against the huge fast-food chain.
The class-action suit, which does not ask for money, objects to Taco Bell calling its products “seasoned ground beef or seasoned beef, when in fact a substantial amount of the filling contains substances other than beef.”
It says Taco Bell’s ground beef is made of such components as water, isolated oat product, wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodextrin, anti-dusting agent, autolyzed yeast extract, modified corn starch and sodium phosphate, as well as some beef and seasonings.
Just 35 percent of the taco filling was a solid, and just 15 percent overall was protein, said attorney W. Daniel “Dee” Miles III of the Montgomery, Ala., law firm Beasley Allen, which filed the suit.
“Taco Bell’s definition of ‘seasoned beef’ does not conform to consumers’ reasonable expectation or ordinary meaning of seasoned beef, which is beef and seasonings,” the suit says. Beef is the “flesh of cattle,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“You can’t call it beef by definition,” Miles said. “It’s junk. I wouldn’t eat it.”
When I was growing up back in the late ’60s and ’70s, we didn’t have Taco Bell. My mom made us tacos using 100% ground beef, which she browned in a giant iron skillet with fresh onions and garlic, and she bought corn tortillas which she fried in vegetable oil. And we topped it with tomatoes and onions and cheddar cheese and sometimes a dollop of fresh guacamole, if avocados were in season. And damn it was good.
That’s how we eat tacos at our house today. Sometimes if I’m lazy I buy the pre-made shells (organic, of course) but otherwise, that’s how you make a taco. Mr. Beale likes his a little spicier than I do, so he adds some cumin powder to his beef. And it’s real beef, not filled with Frankencrap like “isolated oat product,” “wheat oats,” “soy lecithin,” “maltodextrin,” “anti-dusting agent,” etc. What the hell are “wheat oats” anyway? Which is it? Wheat or oats?
Can I tell you how sick and tired I am of picking up fast food trash from the street in front of my house? We live near a Krystal’s and a Wendy’s, and just about every week some asshole finishes eating his or her chemically-modified sandwiches and tosses the bags out the window. Fuck you.
And when my church participated in this human rights action targeting Taco Bell, I learned a lot about how damaging this entire industry is, not just to our bodies but to our entire economy.
It’s a damn shame what the fast food industry has done to this country.
>I don’t know how I let my sister-in-law talk me into training for a half marathon this spring; I’m quite sure alcohol must have been involved. Anyway, if you want to find me I’m probably one of the two or three gazillion people hoofing it down Belmont Boulevard in the morning or afternoon. Yeah, I’ll be the lardass doubled over, clutching her side and gasping for air.
It’s been, oh, around 10 years since I last ran a marathon. And I just have to say: this shit just gets harder as you get older.
You know, it’s that time of year when we’re inundated with diet ads on TV and news stories about fitness. That’s all very well and good but I just have a few questions.
• How come whenever I go to the grocery store, giant bags of Lay’s potato chips are always on sale, buy-one, get-one free? How come I can never get that deal on broccoli? Or a bag of apples? Just wondering.
• How does KFC manage to sell its 20-piece Family Meal, including four sides plus biscuits, for under $30? While half a free range chicken (roasted with lemon, Provencal herbs, and vegetables in a demi-glace), costs the same amount at Miel, a rather pricey eatery in West Nashville?
The KFC meal is enough food to feed two adults and three kids and still have plenty left for everyone to have lunch the next day. It’s also enough sugar, starch, sodium and fat to fast track your entire family to diabetes and heart disease — and don’t even get me started on the hormones and toxic crap in their chicken. The Miel dinner, while healthier, will feed just one for dinner — maybe with enough left for a snack the next day.
So, why is this? Why is crap cheap and plentiful, while wholesome food is not?
• Why are there hormone-disrupting toxins in our drinking water? Why did a ban Bisphenol A (BPA) not make it into the food safety bill, even though it’s banned in Canada for causing impotence and various other endocrine-disruption sins? (And by the way, if you haven’t voluntarily removed all the plastic from your kitchen, well, now might be a good time to start).
• Why (thank you, Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice) have scientists found that it’s not just people getting fatter, but our pets and the animals who live with us like mice and rats? Could it be that we’re all eating and drinking from the same hormone-laden, chemically-engineered banquet table?
• Why do we wonder why the nation is getting fatter and unhealthier when the very reasons are staring us in the face? Why, whenever the media discusses America’s “obesity epidemic,” do we never discuss any of these other issues? Why don’t we talk about the farm policy that favors overproduction of corn, or the toxins and endocrine disruptors in our food and water supply, or the factory farms and agribusiness and genetically modified frankenfoods which the people hawking at us claim to be safe?
I love to cook, it’s one of my great joys in life. I’d no sooner eat at a fast food restaurant as I’d pluck out my own eyeballs and fry them up for dinner. Packaged and processed food just doesn’t taste good to me — I need food to stimulate something other than the salty and sweet tastebuds in my mouth. I cannot imagine coming home from work and popping something frozen in the microwave for dinner. The idea that this is how so many Americans live just makes me sad. And I can’t imagine that this food is good for you.
I hope Americans will get a clue and just say no to the crap we’re being sold by the food industry. It’s not food, it’s a manufactured food-like substitute. Try making just one thing from scratch this week (or one new thing) and see if it’s really as hard and inconvenient and awful as you think.
You can start with salad dressing: it’s the simplest thing in the world, and it can be used as a marinade, dip, drizzled over steamed veggies, over cold pasta, or on your salad. Here’s one of my favorites:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar: the basic formula is 3 parts olive oil to two parts vinegar. Play with it and adjust to your own taste.
1 shallot, chopped fine
About a teaspoon of honey
About a teaspoon of oregano
Salt & Pepper to taste
Put all of this in a blender or small food processor (or whisk it up in a bowl). Voila, you now have a basic vinaigrette. Now comes the fun part. Use it as is, or play with it a bit. Make it creamy by adding some Greek yogurt, or add some gorgonzola cheese, or half an avocado. Or substitute red wine vinegar for the balsamic. Or add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It’s easy-peasy and way better for you than that Wish-Bone crap that contains “xanthan gum” and “maltodextrin” and something scary called “calcium disodium EDTA.”
Take care of yourself, America. You’re worth it.