10,000 Vinyasas

Tag: industrial food system

A Visit To Costco

by on Jul.23, 2011, under food

I admit, I patronize Costco pretty frequently. They have a decent selection of fresh fruit (berries), vegetables (mushrooms, greens), and orange juice. Also, the store across town actually sells green coffee beans at a cheap price. Once in a while, like now, they make a mistake in gauging the local taste for unusual beer and have to unload it at a hefty discount. On these trips, I usually like to amuse myself by noting what processed foodlike substances are being offered, usually shaking my head at the lengths to which the food industry (the term is deliberate) goes to add “value” to real food, by processing, packaging, etc. Having shopped at Costco for some years now, I thought I had pretty much seen the full range of this crap, but apparently I was wrong, because the other day I found the store featuring already prepared and packaged hard boiled eggs. Okay, think about this for a moment: some marketing department genius figured that there was profit to be made in selling these, because apparently, people cannot be bothered to boil and peel an egg! I pause to reflect that this is just the culmination of the entire food section of Costco, which is devoted to the principle that anything that comes whole and unprocessed can be made better by peeling, stripping, combining, slicing, dicing, canning, storing in little plastic cups, freezing, and of course, adding all kinds of salt, sugar, additives, preservatives, fillers, stabilizers, emulsifiers, and just plain garbage. At any rate, I thought up a new slogan for the place, based on the hard boiled egg incident:

Costco: Food For Lazy People

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Making Your Own Food (Some)

by on Apr.26, 2009, under Cooking, food

Here’s an interesting article on whether it makes sense to make your own food (assuming you have and are willing to spend the time). Hint: mostly, it does. I noticed that bread is specifically not mentioned, but the other items are thought-provoking. Bagels: yes. Cream cheese: no. Yogurt: yes (this is on my list to try next) Jam: mostly yes. Crackers: probably not (but why are you eating them anyway?) Granola: yes.

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The Ultimate Expression of Hot Breakfast Cereal

by on Apr.11, 2009, under Cooking, food, recipes

I posted before on the value of oatmeal. Since then, I’ve been refining and adding to my original formulation, to the point that I believe I now have the quintessential hot multigrain cereal (it’s changed so much, you can’t really call it oatmeal any more) recipe, and here it is:

A spoonful of each:
oat flakes
steel cut oats
rye flakes
amaranth
hard red winter wheat
wheat berries
ground up flax seeds
These should add up to about one-half cup for a single serving

Add to the above:
some walnuts or pecans, in pieces
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg
salt

Heat one cup of skim milk on the stove, taking care not to scorch. Stir the above mixture in, and keep stirring occasionally. When it reaches desired consistency, remove from heat and pour into bowl.

Add in whatever sweetener you prefer (honey, maple syrup, agave are suggested), and whatever fresh or frozen berries you prefer.

Yield: one hearty serving

Notes: this is, by far, the best breakfast cereal I’ve ever had. I almost want to make a double portion, it’s so good. Once you get the hang of it, it really takes very little time to make; the most time you’ll spend is assembling the ingredients. Buy these in bulk and you’ll not have to worry about it for quite awhile.

I am quite aware that the reason that recipes like this are so, well, unusual is that the industrial food system has taken over and tyrannized our ideas of what “food” is to the point that making something like this is considered odd…

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An Examination of the Side of the Box…

by on Apr.03, 2009, under food

A couple of days ago, I received a sample of a General Mills product, Total Cranberry Crunch. Let’s have a look at it, shall we? On the front of the box in big yellow letters screams the words (with the word “with” on top in verrrry small letters) Whole Grain, with a little yellow wheat stalk next to it. Next to the word Total is the phrase “100% Nutrition.” Oh, and there’s an almost invisible asterisk beside it; looking down at the bottom, the asterisk refers us to the phrase “100% Daily Value of 11 Vitamins and Minerals.” On top of the box is another whole grain symbol with the words “Whole Grain 16g or more per serving.” This brings us to the side of the box, where we learn that that the ingredients in this “whole grain” cereal are thus: Whole grain wheat, sugar, dried cranberries, corn syrup, whole grain oats, crisp oats (rice flour, whole grain oats, sugar, malt extract, salt, BHT preservative), glycerin, brown sugar, toasted oats (whole grain oats, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, honey, brown sugar molasses), salt, wheat bits(?)(whole grain wheat, corn starch, corn flour, sugar, salt, trisodium phosphate, baking soda, color added), honey, brown sugar syrup, natural and artificial flavor, cinnamon, color added, BHT added to preserve freshness…..whew!

Well, I think you can see why I’m not thrilled with this incredibly poor example of what people think of as food these days. Heavy on the sugar and salt, surrounded by preservatives and other chemicals, some of which I have no idea what purpose they might serve (but it’s not good health), and larded with misleading health claims on the box, this stuff is just not fit for human consumption, in my opinion. What’s worse, it takes basic foodstuffs that are healthful (grains) and by the time the “processing” is finished, we have a major contributor to obesity, diabetes and probably cancer as well. It’s clear to me, at least, that the industrial food system has outlived its usefulness and deserves to be resoundingly rejected at every opportunity.

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A Few More Thoughts On Food…

by on Mar.18, 2009, under food

After posting the other day about the industrial food system and its innate and fundamental tendency to add harmful substances to foods (the industry calls this “adding value,” I call it something else), the sneaky misleading labels, the factory animal farms and dirty slaughterhouses, and the general unhealthiness of the final products, I finally made the leap to the next step. Here’s why I’m using this blog to advocate making your own bread, growing your own food, dropping down in complexity when it comes to eating: the industrial food system has become inherently untrustworthy. I simply don’t believe they have my (or anyone else’s) health and welfare at heart; they just want to make more and more money. I don’t trust them, either to produce healthy, uncontaminated food, or to truthfully and accurately label what they do produce. Relying on underfunded and understaffed governmental agencies to keep these corporations in line is not my idea of a solution either. So, I suppose what I’m recommending here is that you try to opt-out of the system in as many ways as you can. When you see processed foods at the store, imagine how you can make your own, whatever they are. Break whatever it is into its component parts; frequently, you’ll find that not only can you make them cheaper at home, but you can add and subtract ingredients to your own liking, so that the result will surely be more individual as well as healthier for you. The “system” would like for you to think that these “products” can only be produced by industrial processes, in mass quantities, but we know better. Seek out non-factory organic meat, if you’re not vegetarian. Give it a try.

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Processed/Industrialized Foods: What’s Not to Like?

by on Mar.13, 2009, under food

If you needed an example of how the food industry “works” to create “value” in its products, look no further than this article on the increasing use of polydextrose and other substances added to foods to artificially increase their fiber content. Only problem is, these fake fibers aren’t really proven to do much of anything; in fact, no one really knows whether they’re beneficial or not, because its not particularly possible to design scientific enough studies to say for sure. One thing they do accomplish, though, is to make it seem like foods (and I’m using the term loosely here: might be more appropriate to refer to them as, al a Michael Pollan, “edible foodlike substances”) such as Cocoa Pebbles have high fiber content and are thus, “healthy.” As a result, unknowing consumers may get the idea that they are eating well, when in fact, they’re just falling for another scam by the food industry. Since not much is known about these substances, it would probably be better to just get your fiber from oh, real sources like fruits and vegetables, but this really wouldn’t increase the industrial food system’s profits as much, would it? Well, that’s about it in a nutshell. Over on The Edge of Chaos I do a fair amount of ranting about how so many of our current institutions and systems have become predatory, taking advantage of people’s ignorance and exploiting their worst instincts for ever more profit, and the industrial food system is just one of many (ok, if you insist, the credit card companies, the health care system, government, the finance industry, and a few others). Although many things may be scarce or unaffordable, human ignorance and gullibility are always present in abundance. You can resist the blandishments of processed food; it just takes a little time, thought, and planning. Good luck.

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Three Things To Look For…

by on Jan.29, 2009, under food

And eliminate in your diet.  These are easy to say, and hard to do, because they are ubiquitous in the American industrial food system.  Subisidies of corn produce the excess which drives the stuff into every type of food imaginable. Trying to eliminate these will produce the reflexive reaction of checking ingredients on every package of food (assuming you eat packaged food, which is probably not a good idea).  Well, here they are…good luck:

high fructose corn syrup

hydrogenated oils

bleached flour (in other words, anything but 100% whole grain; look for wiggle words from the industry to get around this)

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Making Your Own Bread

by on Dec.20, 2008, under Cooking

Of late, I have become quite dissatisfied with the quality of bread available in my local grocery store (my dissatisfaction with my local grocery store has been growing as well, but that’s another story). Primarily, when I want bread, I want whole grains, very limited sweetener, and nothing else.  Alas, the industrial food system has determined that additives and preservatives, along with a dysfunctional approach to sweeteners, has rendered commercial store bought bread unacceptable.  Just check out the ingredients list on pretty much any bread bag…you’ll see things like bleached flour, high fructose corn syrup, and hydrogenated oils, most of which are considered poisonous for people (at least, those trying to maintain a reasonable height to weight ratio). At any rate, making your own bread seemed a formidable task, at least until I came across a recipe which called for no kneading and very little effort.  Of course, the results were outstanding, in terms of cost, convenience, and most of all, taste and healthfulness.  Needless to say, a huge benefit to making one’s own bread is the vast control you have over the ingredients.  One can, for example, add flax seeds, wheat berries, honey, nuts of all kinds, play with the proportions of whole wheat flour and rye, add bits of cheese, or many other items. It really does open up an entirely different world, and changes one’s perspective about bread. Why put up with inferior store bought bread, when making your own is so ridiculously easy?

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