More to the point, the things Americans eat. I suppose it’s only us old people, the ones who remember what food is supposed to taste like, who notice how truly dreadful most American food is. It far exceeds British food now, in terms of its awfulness. Unless you restrict your shopping to farmer’s markets and the supermarket’s fresh produce and butcher departments, about 90 percent of what you buy in a grocery store is…well…dreck. And about 99.7% of prepared food fits that description. Ugh!
The genesis of this rant? The other day I succumbed to an impulse buy: picked up a package at Costco containing two plastic (that should’ve been a tip-off) containers of “baked potato soup.”
Mmmmmmmmm! Doesn’t that sound great? Baked potatoes narfled around to make a fine reheatable tasty soup. Just think of it: delicious baked potatoes and delicious sour cream and delicious little green onions and some delicious crumbled up bacon and butter and…. Yum, eh?
Well, not so much.
I take this stuff out of the fridge, taste it, and find:
Ah! It’s salt with a little food attached!
Yuch!!!! The stuff is so effing oversalted it makes your whole face, not just your mouth, pucker up!
What is the matter with us that we allow ourselves to be fed this kind of garbage? Is it possible that most Americans really think food has to be mostly salt to be edible?
Well, I’d suggest that the problem is we all eat way too much restaurant food, which in general is by definition processed foodoid. And processed food is, in general, highly oversalted. And laced with all sorts of irrelevant and not necessarily benign chemicals.
If you get used to cooking your own food — as most frugalistas do — you grow accustomed to eating foods that contain much less salt than the guck you get in restaurants and from packages. When you eat a lot of processed food, you get used to eating stuff whose primary flavor is salt, and you forget what real food is supposed to taste like.
It’s not that I don’t put salt in my food. I certainly do. Hell, I’ll sprinkle salt and pepper over a slice of honeydew melon! But not so much as to make your mouth hurt…
The Brits noticed that some 75% of dietary sodium in Europe and the US comes from salts added to processed foods, putting thousands of consumers at risk of early expiration dates… They ran a study to see if sodium levels could be reduced in processed foods, and it worked, to a degree. America being the Land of the Free and the Home of Big Money, of course, it’s highly unlikely any such program could even be tested here, much less applied across the board to the toxic stuff served up to us every day.
In America it doesn’t take a government program to change Big Bidness’s evil ways. It takes a freaking CONSUMER REVOLUTION.
Folks. Don’t eat that stuff. If you must eat packaged food (even though it’s just not that hard to cook real food), if you must eat out all the time, exercise some discrimination. Don’t eat food that tastes mostly like salt. Eat food that tastes like food (assuming you can remember what that tastes like…). If you don’t remember what food tastes like, do yourself a favor and spend about six weeks eating only fresh foods that you prepare for yourself in your own kitchen. (Yeah, I know: the fancy new kitchens are designed for looks, not for cooking. But you can make it work!)
Free yourself from the tyranny of the processed food industries!
From the frugalista point of view, real food has a ton of plusses:
- Ohhh, yes, numero uno, top of the frugal list: it’s infinitely cheaper than processed food. Especially when you figure in the doctor bills evinced by a salt- and sugar-heavy diet.
- And neck-&-neck for the place at the top of the list: it tastes infinitely better.
- It’s better for you! It’s not full of salt. It’s not full of sugar. But it is full of vitamins and minerals and such things that make you healthy.
- It’s more fun to eat. Making your own delicious food is ever so much more satisfying than standing in a fast-food line or putting up with the racket and nuisance of restaurant life.
- You know what’s in it. Trust me: you do not know what’s in processed and restaurant foods. It’s better if you don’t…
- You know how it’s been prepared. You know the preparation was sanitary. If the person who fixed it had a cold or a strep throat, that person was you, and you’re unlikely to catch that bug from yourself.
Freedom’s just another word for…a dish of decent food.