Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Good Eats

Okay, so I'll admit it - I have an unnatural addiction to watching the Food Network. Last night, Brian and I were watching Good Eats with Alton Brown, who is hilarious by the way, and he was dissecting nutritional treats in this episode. Needless to say, we were a captive audience! It was actually kind of funny because we've made "power bars" before and lately, Brian has been experimenting with alternative ways of making rice krispy treats. We're both a little eager to try these three recipes out now and I, personally, was very happy to see Alton Brown explaining to the masses why certain oils and high fructose corn syrup are bad for them! I just made me think of how unaware most people are. I look back and think of how I thought I was doing good, but realize now that most people really, really do not realize the extent of the problem.

Brian and I have this conspiracy theory that the way that our economy is structured contributes to the problem. Think about it, all the big companies like Nabisco or General Mills, their goal is to keep their costs down to get the most for their buck, to keep the shelf life of food long to minimize loss & maximize profits and to keep up the marketing of the products to appeal to the masses. Good example of this is Cheerios. Surely they are healthy right? WRONG. One of the primary ingredients is high fructose corn syrup and they add all kinds of chemicals which are passed off as "vitamins and minerals." Same for Rice Krispies. It's scary really.

Even I'm becoming more astonished at the lengths these companies are willing to go to. Take McDonald's - they were the subject of Morgan Spurlock's movie Super Size Me. Shortly after that movie hit the masses, McDonalds added apple slices and fruit parfaits to the menu and salads - *shocking*, I know - and now they are catering their advertising toward the healthier choices that can be found. On a whim, I used their Bag-a-McMeal interactive tool to determine the nutritional content of something that should be a healthy choice. I chose the Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken, which should be okay for you, but I'm curious so I also add the Newman's Own Cobb Dressing which, although it's a little high in salt, meets with our higher standards. I also add a small sized ice tea, don't add any sugar, figuring this is the most healthy choice of beverage aside from water for my imaginary lunch. I then hit that little button to get the nutritional content. All I have to say is Holy COW. I should not be surprised yet, I am. The entire meal packs 410 Calories, which is okay, but it contains 20 grams of fat, 31% of the recommended daily value ("RDV"), 11 grams of which are attributed to the salad, 5 grams of which is saturated fats. 150mg of Cholesterol (52% of RDV) *wow* and 1570mg of sodium, 65% of the RDV, 1120 of which is attributed to the salad alone, with no dressing on it. At this point all I'm thinking is: "WHAT?!?!" I notice a little plus sign next to the salad, so I click on it and it reveals an ingredient list for the salad: grilled chicken, salad mix, grape tomatoes, blue cheese crumbles, diced egg, bacon bits and liquid margarine. Liquid Margarine?!?!? Scary part? Nothing but zeros next to that liquid margarine. WOW. I'm guessing that the chicken is grilled and the bacon is cooked with the liquid margarine, but who knows. I, of course, take the moment to click on more details and FINALLY get an ingredient list. Of course, the liquid margarine is TRANSFAT and they've managed to pass that along to you in a salad, not to mention all the preservatives the chicken has in it. Needless to say, the rest of the ingredients seem fine, since it really is hard to make lettuce or tomatoes worse for you. The blue cheese, which naturally has some sodium, is even okay in moderation, however, buyer beware that the Newman's Own dressing has High Fructose Corn Syrup as a main ingredient. But this salad is part of the high salt, high cholesterol problem that fast food restaurants are creating for our country.

Just think, the average person eats out several to multiple times per week on this high salt, high fat, high cholesterol diet. Over time, they slowly gain weight, probably even if they bother to get cardiovascular exercise. Now, think about this, they get sick from time to time, they develop high blood pressure or high cholestorol and require medication for it. Who's paying for that? The answer? We are all paying for it. With our health insurance premiums, our Social Security contributions, our state, local and federal taxes, our donations to the American Heart Association for research. All I have to say is DUH. The answer starts and ends with our mentality that everything needs to be quick, convenient and, most of all, cheap. We are a nation of people who are slowly eating ourselves to death and, slowly, bringing the rest of the world down with us! I'm beginning to wonder if this will be our legacy in world history - Britain and France were the super powers known for colonization and I think we're going to be known as the super power that fed everyone to death.

People, including family members, think Brian and I are fanatic. We are - we're fanatic about filling our body with real food. You'd be amazed at how much better you feel and look. I haven't been sick in the last two years I changed my diet and I have yet to even go to a doctor for a non-routine checkup this year. That speaks volumes in my humble opinion.

Okay, stepping off the soap box for now, but I recommend giving the matter some thought or, at the very least, tuning in to the Food Network to drool over REAL food. We make everything from scratch now - mmmmmm......and we're loving every minute of it!

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