Tough love for the American diet?

Mmmm artichokes!Let's face it. Being in Los Angeles the past few days has much too closely resembled living in Satan's taint for standing over a range, especially for those of us in "vintage" buildings without AC. So, for those of you who like to read this blog for recipes and food alchemy cooking adventures, prepare to be disappointed. There honestly was no cooking this week.

But, I did come across something interesting which I hope you find interesting, too.

In my web travels, I came across a link to this article in the NY Times, Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries. Mind you, the article is nothing ground-breaking on its face. It's the usual people bemoaning the epidemic of obesity in the US and the usual follow-up breast-beating over the collective shrug from our mostly-obese populace of junk and processed food eaters.

There was, however, a startling difference in this piece from what I'm used to reading. Mainly, the tone of the article was, rather offensively to me, seemingly of the opinion that vegetables are, in fact, icky. The author, Kim Severson, practically bends over backward to defend unhealthy eaters in presenting the daunting case against the vegetable. It is as if one is being asked to suck live slugs or consume toxic waste rather than add a few little piles of veg to our meals.

Now, if one was just looking for a glimpse into the mindset of the American diet, getting right down to the core of the issue, the real action is in the comments. I was so fascinated, so ... I must say ... horrified and appalled, I had to read through them all.

If you want to spare yourself, I can sum up for you. I'm lovely like that.

Anti-veg commenters: Don't you tell me what to eat! You're not the boss of me! Vegetables are icky!

Curried veg ... 15 minutes ... too much work?Far too many Pro-veg commenters: *sigh* Yes, we admit, vegetables are so much bother and work and trouble ... and many of them are ... well ... icky ... but ... *sigh*

Yes, you read that right. Apparently, vegetables are very difficult and time consuming, just too draining for your average American. And even the veg-eaters agree. Lots of work *sigh*. Are we healthy eaters becoming that asshat woman in the old Rice Crispies Treats commercial, flinging flour on our faces after preparing virtually-instant food and trying to convince everyone and ourselves that healthy cooking and eating is just SO MUCH WORK?

I mean, seriously, how much effort does it require to break up some cauliflower into pieces and steam it? Oh, boy, that's HARD WORK! Wilting some spinach with some garlic ... arduous! *FEH!* I don't mean to get ranty, but it's just so ridiculous, so I'll shift gears before I turn into one of "those people" ... you know who I mean.

okra is deliciousThere are, boiling it down, two kinds of healthy cooks/eaters (which is quite similar to vegetarians and vegans). The first are the assholes, the sort to preach at you and tell you about every last "whole" food they ate and the pristine sources and blah, blah, blah. (Oh, and, by the way, don't worry. The rest of us on the healthy side hate those fuckers, too.) They are more apt to make unhealthy eaters dig in their heels and refuse to eat their veggies like good boys and girls out of general principal and a good smattering of spite. The others are the rest of us, just trying to do the best for our body and give it what it needs to stay fueled right and trying to not judge others too harshly for not putting in the same effort. Looking at the comments, maybe we should get just a shade more judge-y ... at least a bit more vocal about sharing info with others about how easy it is to cook and eat with fresh ingredients, not to mention how much money it saves in the long run. And, not to sound preachy, but I have no idea how people who consume no vitamins or essential nutrients manage to function. I'd be curious to see how many "energy" drinks are required to power a body through a day with no nutrition.

In the end, I suppose the current state of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and the laundry list of health issues isn't enough for America to get their shit together and realize chicken nuggets and fries is not the basis for a sound diet. I'm honestly stunned when I see what some women with children in tow have in their full shopping carts. I know how the kids are growing outward, but what the hell is helping them grow upward? Are we really that ignorant, completely unaware of what actually qualifies (or should qualify) as food? Just because you can shove it down your maw, does not make it food.

Let us forever more respect the division between food and snacks.

Food = nourishment. Yes, snacks can be nourishing, but then those snacks would be small nosh portions of food, wouldn't they? You see where I'm going with this? It's a pretty bright line, I must say.

Don't get me wrong. There is nothing whatever wrong with snacks. I enjoy them quite a lot, especially when the hormone fairy comes for her regular visits. But, and this is an important but, I do not mistake them as anything even remotely close to food. When we do eat snacks, we try to counterbalance them with a bit more healthy stuff and less naughty stuff in our meals. It's really not that hard or too limiting. Would I love to snarf a bag of Wise onion rings in the afternoon and a container of Hagen Daz rum raisin after dinner? Sure, but I'm pretty sure that's a one-way ticket straight to morbid obesity and diabetes, so I don't. Fortunately, a bit of homemade okra pickles and some fresh, juicy mango feel pretty satisfying, too, and don't make me resemble Jabba the Hut. So I think I'll mostly go that way.

chicken spooge - a future nuggetWhen I really think about it, maybe we do need a touch of tough love about our diet as a nation. Judging by many of the comments I read from (at least chronological) adults, the health of our cumulative diet is in a pretty dire place. If you are in the camp who thinks it's not, I invite you to check out the added information which goes with this lovely, appetizing photo of a future "chicken nugget".

If your mind immediately went toward Heston shouting about Soyent Green, I'm right there with you. Because, seriously, if this is what we consider "food" now, we need to take a good hard look at the definition.

Enough of my random brain droppings ... hopefully we'll have moved out of Satan's nut-sack soon and I'll be back with the kick-ass original recipes I had in mind for this week before Mother Nature had a tantrum. Until then, have fun playing with your food!