Friday, May 18, 2012

The One with the Produce Box

I love food.

I think if you know me, even marginally, you know how I feel about food.  I like eating it, cooking it, looking at it, talking about it. . .food has so much potential.

The problem, though, is that a lot of food, especially food you don't cook at home or that you do cook at home, but that somes pre-packaged, isn't food at all.  It's a "food product." 

I drove to D's hometown last week and listened to an audio book I'd picked up sort of arbitrarily.  It's called "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" by Michael Pollan.  Sometimes, when I'm listening to audio books on the way to the mountains, a 4-hour drive, I get restless and bored.  This book, though, kept my attention the entire way, and I wanted to keep getting in the car to listen to it further.

He talks about how much extra crap is put into food, how the "Western Diet" is most likely causing "Western Diseases" like Type 2 Diabetes and Heart Disease, and how people can eat the way they're meant to.  (The whole book is based on seven words:  "Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants."

One of the examples he used involved Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread (which. . .I don't even know how that's a thing.)  One of his points is that people should try to eat things made with 5 ingredients or less.  Bread, at its core, has 4 ingredients:  flour, water, yeast, and salt.  Some people add a little sugar, others a little butter, but you really only need 4 things to make a loaf of bread.

The Sara Lee Whole Grain White Bread, however, has (according to this website):

Enriched Bleached Flour [Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid], Water, Whole Grain [Whole Wheat Flour, Brown Rice Flour (Rice Flour, Rice Bran)], Wheat Gluten, Skim Milk, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sugar, Yeast, Butter (Cream, Salt), Contains 2% or Less of Each of the Following: Calcium Sulfate, Salt, Dough Conditioners (May Contain One or More of the Following: Mono- and Diglycerides, Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Calcium Peroxide, Datem, Ascorbic Acid, Azodicarbonamide, Enzymes), Guar Gum, Calcium Propionate (Preservative), Distilled Vinegar, Yeast Nutrients (Monocalcium Phosphate, Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate and /or Calcium Carbonate), Corn Starch, Vitamin D3, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour.

Wait.  What?  Why is there both high fructose corn syrup AND sugar in BREAD?

So the point was. . .watch what you eat, because you're eating a lot of crap, even in things that should seem healthy.

This is why I prefer cooking at home.

I came across, which is a CSA sort of thing.  You sign up and pay weekly, so if there's a week nothing appeals to you, you don't have to buy a box, and you get a big box of locally-grown fruits and vegetables and other assorted goodies.  (One week, we got homemade bread.  Best bread ever.)

The best part about the whole thing is that everything comes from North Carolina, and a good majority of it comes from within 60 or so miles.  It's fresh and it's local and the carrots I've had out of these boxes taste better than any supermarket carrot I've ever eaten.

This was the first box we got.  Strawberries, carrots, white sweet potatoes, kale, cilantro, cucumbers, and a type of red lettuce.  Since I like to make kale chips, I ordered two bunches of kale, thinking that one might not be enough.

This was, in fact, false.  There was so much, I ended up using one bunch of it to make kale chips and the other bunch to make kale and ricotta ravioli.

I look forward to the boxes every week, and I'm actually thrilled that I'm using fruits and vegetables that didn't come from Florida.  Or Mexico.

I would highly recommend looking to see if you can get involved in a CSA.  If not, maybe check out farmer's markets.

Because when it comes right down to it, I, personally, don't want a side of Ethoxylated Mono- and Diglycerides with my chicken salad.


  1. Yes, great book! It's such a simple and obvious message: "Eat food," and yet it's so hard for us to do. The thing that really surprised me is how much better real food tastes than the processed stuff. Real food does take more work, though, and is more expensive, which is why it's harder for a lot of people to eat it.

  2. I read an article the other day that tried to argue that healthy food was NOT that much more expensive than food products. I'm still trying to figure out how they figure that.

    But yes. I'd never had a farm-fresh carrot before they came in one of the boxes, and I was kind of floored at the difference.