Eek of the Week – the Real Food Challenge
Having just used “threat or menace,” albeit jokingly, I don’t suppose I can say the same about the “Real Food Challenge” (reported here) that’s currently sucking up so much internet ink. In fact, it’s probably unwise to give the thing any more PR by giving it an Eek.
But I can’t resist, because it’s such a classic example of the all-knowing self-righteous preaching that helps the processed food industry keep its stranglehold on the American diet.
Left to right: Back row – Butter, smoked Spanish paprika, olive oil, hard cider, whole wheat flour, center – local cheese: Barat, from Sprout Creek Farm, and Shaker Blue, from Old Chatham Sheepherding Company, (home made cherry preserves, here for another reason), cocoa, thick cut rolled oats.
Having a contest or challenge is widely recommended as a way of driving traffic to one’s blog, so I will follow the “Real Food” example and issue a challenge of my own: how many logical contradictions, dubious pronouncements, definitional confusions and needless make-work can you find, between the challenges themselves and the responses of those who took them up?
Why, for instance, must you make your own fresh sauerkraut instead of buying same? Why must you render your own lard if the only acceptable raw material is coming from the sort of butcher who’s almost surely selling rendered lard already?
Why is the soft cheese made by a local dairy somehow non-U, while the cheese you make at home from the very same milk is just fine?
Have to confess my challenge probably won’t have a prize, though the how-to-drive-traffic people say that’s a very important aspect. It’s not that I’m stingy, it’s that I can’t bear the thought of dwelling on this one moment longer than necessary and can’t imagine you don’t also have better things to do with your time.
But if entries do appear, and there are more than, say, ten of them, the prize will be a jar of cherry preserves, processed right here at home by me. Be warned the preserves contain a small amount of white sugar, the devil incarnate, and were flavored with a vanilla bean that was of course quite complexly processed.
Last time I looked, American consumers were still buying 300,000,000 (yes, three hundred million) boxes of Jello every year. That’s Jello, festival of noxious artificial flavors and colors. Suggesting that the best way to graduate to something better isn’t to mix fresh fruit juice with unflavored gelatin but rather to source some local calves’ feet and start boiling isn’t just silly, it’s counterproductive. Or it is if your goal is to help people see how easy it can be to eat well, and thus create a mass movement toward purer, less processed food.
Important Note: as far as I know this example is fictional, invented for point-making purposes. If she really did say you ought to try making your own gelatin I don’t want to know about it. Please.
This is a revision of an earlier post that contained inaccuracies.