(Franken) Food Trends. When Scientists Forget Food is Pleasurable

From a company called Merlin (yes, that’s really their name):

“Sometimes, scientists can forget that food is pleasurable to people,” said Leslie Skarra, Merlin’s chief executive. “It needs to be cost-appropriate, but it needs to taste good, it needs to look good. It’s not just a science project, although there’s a tremendous amount of science that goes into it.”

Like the science that goes into these innovations:

  • Clearsweet 43/43 – Cargill’s corn syrup sweetener touted as half as sweet as sugar;
  • An ultra-high pressure application that kills pathogens in deli meats while leaving the deli meat intact.

Enough pressure to crush a submarine, yet somehow my bologna will look fine? What? Does that remind anyone of the nitrites and the irradiation that were other innovations meant to protect us? This article claim it’s about food trends. Turns out it’s really about food science trends.

I’m all for taking trans fat out of fats, but isn’t all this over-engineered food what got us into trouble to begin with? Maybe it’s the image of hairnetted, blue gloved scientists trying to decide what the next food trend is going to be that’s unsettling to me. I want my farmers to look like this instead.

And Speaking of Trends

How about obesity? Diabetes?

When people stopped eating real fruit but started eating things with fruit flavors and juices with high fructose corn syrup, it was a trend driven largely by companies who could multiply profits up and down the manufacturing line, using up a lot of corn along the way. The “food trends” noted make the food producers sound like Louis Pasteur…they’re trying to combat obesity. How noble. They’re the good guys, right?

But, see, the thing of it is guys, we got obese by eating your processed, packaged fake food to begin with!

I love Jay Leno’s line: if the average American is now obese, then obese is the new average. You are now average – New Year’s resolution: done! Maybe there’s another way, Jay.

Another Alarming Trend

This comes out the same day I found this interesting comparison of what’s really on our Overflowing American Plate. Note two items: the increase in consumption of corn sweetners (up nearly 400%) and the doubling of the obese population. Obviously, one product or one food, even one trend, is not the causal factor that explains it all. While we keep trying to find fats that won’t make us fat, and pills that will trick our muscles into thinking we’ve exercised, we keep overlooking the obvious. We need to turn this car around.

In 1970, the average American ate about 16.4 pounds of food a week, or 2.3 pounds daily. By 2006, the average intake grew by an additional 1.8 pounds a week.

As Michael Pollan succintly puts it:

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.

Nutritionists, scientists, our doctors, our mothers, all say many of the same things: eat more fruits and vegetables. Stay away from the processed, packaged foods. Switch out some meats for grains and beans. Think of the Mediterranean diet. Traditional foods are often better. Olive oil instead of butter. Even lard which fell in disfavor, is now thought to be better than margarines loaded with trans fats. For years, margarine was touted as our salvation, remember? Oops.

Here’s are four suggestions to keep us safe from the hairnets, at least this week:

1. Enjoy your steak, in moderation. Just don’t eat it every night and don’t eat 12 oz., eat three. Eat grass-fed beef if you can (less methane in the atmosphere, better for cows, better for farm, for us). Try bison instead, lean, grass-fed, humanely harvested, Wild Idea Buffalo.

2. Improve that diet more by having some local chicken instead. Poach a chicken breast for a nice sandwich and forget about the deli log o’meat (and fat, and chemicals). [42 g of chicken breast = 33 calories; 1 from fat; two slices of beef bologna or 28 g = 87 calories; 71 from fat!]

3. Find little ways to put more real food in your diet. Replace packaged with farm-fresh, even if it’s just half a portion. Some carrot sticks, next to the pita chips with the hummus.

4. Go see what your farmers markets have in seasons. It’s amazing how satisfying real food is, we’ve just forgotten. Look at these berries – what could be better?

Because laughter is often the best cure read 10 Things to Scratch from You Worry List.

~ by jacqueline1230 on August 4, 2008.

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