We’ve reached that inevitable point in the middle of the summer months that dooms all bloggers. That is, the stretch of time where there is just nothing to write about. No movie or sports news—we are still waiting for a little bit of both. Because of that, I thought it was about time to finally set pen to paper on an idea I have had for a new television show, one that would combine history with the single item we can all find common ground on: food! There are an endless amount of documentaries on all time periods in history (though that number has been shrinking in recent years due to a mass-encroachment from mindless “reality”-based shows), but how many of them ever take the time to go into detail on the food consumed in whatever particular time period they are focusing on? The only one that comes to mind is one of my favorites, The Naked Archaeologist, hosted by Simcha Jacobovici, which I love for its simplistic, down-to-earth approach to archaeology, making it fun, interesting, and easy to learn for everyone. The reason why the show is titled as such is because he peels back the layers, so to speak, making the archaeology “naked”. Many times his shows will include little tidbits on food and lifestyles, which I always found fascinating. I think it is a topic that could do very well as a show of its own, because if there is one thing that can humanize a group of people who have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years, it would be details about, and demonstrations of how to cook the food they ate.
Who loves a good hot dog? Everyone! In fact, I love them so much that I never eat them. The reason is because if I eat one, then I have to eat a second one, which quickly turns into a third. The same can probably be said for most lovers of hot dogs, because they just taste so amazing—they taste American. There’s just something about stuffing your face with your daily supply of fat and cholesterol that just reeks of Americana. Oh, and do you want to know the other reason why I never eat them? Well, obvious nutrition fact reasons aside, the chemicals and preservatives that manufacturers pump into the dogs, nitrates and nitrites to name a few, reportedly give a hot dog the same effect on your body as smoking a pack of cigarettes. There just became no way for me to trick myself into eating one, especially after reading that, which combined with these little pieces of smoked goodness running an upwards of 20 fat grams per piece, and some beyond, because I was dieting and trying to lose weight at the time. Now that I have lost some weight and am probably in the best shape I have been in for quite some time, I still could not get myself to chow down on a hot dog, no matter what the occasion. That was until I met Trader Joe, a specialty store of organic and natural foods.
People have often asked me, “You blog about so much, why not food too?” Well, that is all going to change right now! Borrowing the tradition from Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate, I am now going to share with you some personal favorites of mine, as I have made food a new category on this blog in order to pass the usually slow summer months. It’s pretty hard to get someone to give their absolute, without-a-doubt favorites, in anything, but I am going to give it a try here. These are not written in stone, mind you, and will probably evolve over time. But here they are, the best steak and chicken I have ever had so far, in Volume 1!
Ever since I vowed on January 1st to start losing weight, not only have I exercised and stayed active more, but it has also made me a lot more aware of just what exactly goes into the food we eat on a regular basis. I must say, that this new-found “awareness” has become more of a curse than a blessing, because it has led me to believe that the unhealthiness of our food is intentional, because companies would almost have to go out of their way to make foods so dangerously unnatural. This article is just a mere observation, not a scientific analysis, because if it was 0ne, I would not know where to begin. People are up in arms about Michele Obama’s campaign to have the government more involved in food regulation, but I ask, why? Just sit down one day with a can of soda and read the ingredients—there is an old saying that goes, “If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.” or in this case, drink it. The ingredients that go into our food and drinks are scary, including one in Mountain Dew that is only a proton away from turning into chrome trailer hitch polish.
The almighty dollar is at stake here, supposedly, because companies are so obsessed with cutting costs that it means cutting out everything that is good and wholesome in our foods and replacing it with artificial sweeteners, enhancers, and preservatives. I have not had a soda since August of 2010, because I found that drinking the chemicals in diet are even worse than the sugar in regular, though they do not even use real sugar anymore. The jury is still out on how bad high fructose corn syrup is for the human body, but I am watching my intake of that as well, but it is rather difficult, since it is in everything. Deciding which soda to drink is like having to decide between which of your feet you want to have hacked off by a dull axe. Left or right, it doesn’t matter; you will still be limping for the rest of your life. It is hard to believe, that over the course of a hundred years, Coca-Cola went from a serum used to hospitals to something that could put you in the hospital if you drink too much of it.
To say I have become a bit paranoid on what goes into my food would be an understatement. When I first started my New Year’s Resolution, one that has now got me down 37 pounds, I was looking to cut out fat. Then I lost the weight, so I looked to lower cholesterol. Then I felt I was doing a good job at that, but my blood pressure was high, so now it was time to watch sodium. This will drive anyone nuts, because you can’t do it all. If something is low in fat, it is high in salt, and vice versa—you can literally self destruct if you think about it too much.
Then there is the issue of studies showing that potato chips can cause cancer. Like, really? There is a legislature trying to be passed for next year that would make it mandatory in California to display such a warning on all bags of potato chips. The reason is less sinister, because it is not something companies have done. It appears that when high-starch foods are cooked at a high temperature, they release a chemical called acrylamide, which causes cancer. At first, this made me want to stop eating them and go to tortilla chips, but then I asked myself, “How long before something deadly is found in the corn used to make them?”, so now, I eat the chips like I never knew this warning, because sometimes, I just need to have something crunchy with my sandwich. One good thing comes out of this, though, and that is now every time my mom yells at me for smoking a cigar, I can yell at her for eating potato chips.
In getting back to sodium, it has always been an issue with fast food. I am not about to go research every chain’s nutrition facts, but I will use Quick Chek as my lone example, because I feel fooled after eating it so much. In a way, I guess it is my own fault. Their food was never advertised to be healthier, I just assumed it was, because the word “Fresh” is seen everywhere behind their sandwich counter. Normally, fresh = healthy, but not in this world, not anymore. Just the other day I decided to look up their nutrition facts online, and I swear, I was shocked. I only switch back and forth between two sandwiches, the Tuscan Veggie Melt and Tuna Sub. I figured these were the “healthier” options on the menu, so boy was I in for an awakening when I compared their other items and found that they were indeed the best choices to pick from.
The Tuscan Veggie Melt, which contains ONLY lettuce, tomato, onion, roasted peppers, mozzarella cheese, and dressing packs nearly 1700 MG of sodium into your body if you get the twelve-inch (does anyone get the six?). Not only that, but it has 32 G of fat as well. I felt like screaming out, “In what?!”. I know cheese has fat, but have you seen the two puny slices they give you? It must be the dressing and Parmesan cheese (which I never get because the salt in the sprinkled cheese will literally leave you gasping for water), because everything else is “natural”. I find it hard to believe that “fresh” ingredients need so much sodium, because if they do, then are not fresh. Next comes the tuna, and my goodness, I will never order it again. Because I have limited my meat intake and fish is supposedly good for you (the oils make up for the mercury and poisons present, I guess), I thought this was a better option than let’s say a ham sandwich. Are you ready for it? How about 69 G of fat and about 2322 MG of sodium, only 3% less than your entire daily intake.
Unless you have the money to buy only organic (how many people do?), then you will be stuck having to live dangerously with such unhealthy foods. I know people can just argue that if you don’t like it, don’t eat it, but this is not about that—it is about having options, and right now, there are not many which will result in something other than obesity and high blood pressure. The people who run this country want everyone sickly and unhealthy, alive just enough to pay taxes, only because the dead can’t. Maybe the government does need to go in and regulate companies and watch what they do to ingredients. There should be a limit on sodium and artificial preservatives, and it should be illegal for food producers to ship out foods that have ingredients that can kill you if eaten enough. Since when did drinking a soda or having a sandwich hold the same risks as chain-smoking a pack of Marlboro Red? There does not seem to be any difference now. There have been so many protests in the past few months, against the government or Wall Street, but there should be one on the food industry as well, because this problem is just as great, and something needs to be done.