Quitting Big Food

I’m never giving up eggs.  Same goes for dairy, wheat, gluten, chicken or bacon.  I could manage giving up the rest of the pig but to say that I would never enjoy a couple of bacon slices with breakfast ever again is just lunacy. Won’t happen.

I believe in moderation and exercise and as a result, I’m fairly trim and all the doctor’s tests always come back in the normal range. I even take my vitamins.

But these days I sense I’m coming up on some sort of new culinary ideology. Thing is, I love to eat and I love junk food.  If you stranded me on an island, gave me five food choices they would be McDonald’s cheeseburgers, McDonald’s fries, Jiff Peanut Butter on hot English muffins, Cheetos and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  Super healthy, huh?

Even though I only treat myself to these tasty items occasionally they will forever be in my top five, probably because I grew up with them.

But why do I love them so?  This article in the New York Times made me start to wonder. Apparently, the food manufacturers have been engineering these foods, not for supreme taste (as I thought) but for pure addiction. And I have to admit, it jives. Why is it that putting down a can of Pringles is nearly impossible? Why is it that I never feel like I can get full eating Cheetos?  It’s called Vanishing Caloric Density – the fact that Cheetos melt in your mouth (and stomach) taking up no space at all allowing you to always eat more without filling up.

I don’t buy these items very much (if ever) but I do think about them – doesn’t that say something?  That even though the wanton carb-loaded days of my youth are long gone, the imprint is forever on my psyche.  I was addicted once – and maybe still am.

And what I’m realizing is – I’m pissed about that. Yeah… Screw them.  Screw the industry that has it out for me. All they ever talked about was that their stuff would taste good to my mouth but really it tasted even better in my mind – and it’s still there.

Coca-Cola came out with this ridiculous commercial patting themselves on the back for their low-calorie beverages and going on about how obesity is everyone’s problem.  You mean like a problem that you guys helped create?  A single can of regular Coke contains 140 calories or the equivalent of two poached eggs.

And then there was this article about how the beverage industry activated nonprofits to defend them against legislation.  Look, I’m not in favor of outlawing beverages or food (Prohibition) and I believe people have the right to destroy their health with their food but my point is, the more I wade into this, I believe the very last thing on these nefarious company’s minds is our welfare or our health. They simply don’t care that their products could kill us.  They want us consuming and will do anything to ensure we keep doing so – making sure their shareholders and company profits stay fat and happy.

I guess what gets me most is that I have a lot of respect for bakers, restaurant owners, anyone who makes and sells their own food.  What a tough business and I know that their goal is to ensure that I keep coming back by providing the right mix of good-tasting food and value on the dollar.

But the bagel place owner isn’t holed up in a shady backroom somewhere with vials and beakers analyzing the minute components of each flavor element to ensure that each taster arrives at the “Bliss Point” for optimal flavor maximization without too much intensity that would cause them to put down the treat.

Either that or maybe that guy can’t afford their technology yet.  But for the ones who can, I promise you, (Yes, you, Mr. Big Food Corporate Guy) I’m not buying your crap anymore – not just because it’s not good for me but because I think your company is destructive and morally wrong in its intentions.  You don’t own me or my taste buds anymore.