Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Panic Diet

Leaving Egypt to the Egyptians for a moment, why don't we extend the spirit of introspection and consider some of the more troublesome traits affecting our own culture?

After all, we have plenty of "political, economic, ethical, legal, and chemical" questions of our own to address. Starting with what the hell that is we're putting in our mouths. Do you really know where your food has been?

Now don't get me wrong, I ain't going vegetarian. Meat is too tasty. But I don't eat as much meat as I used to. Especially from fast-food establishments. I haven't eaten at Taco Bell in years, and my long-past experience with their food makes me wonder why anyone else still does. I mean, after one bite, even years ago, did anyone need a lawsuit's publicity to tell us that wasn't really meat in their products?

It is times like these that I realize that there are a lot of folks I share a country with that don't give a passing thought to the food they put in their mouths, where it came from, or what it does to their bodies. What are their motivations causing them to fill their bellies with some artificially flavored protien paste? Response to advertising? Convenience? The food looks tastier in the commericals for a reason. The locations are set up where they are for a reason. Branding works for a reason. But doesn't reality set in once you open the bag you recieve from the drive-thru? Doesn't the whole sham come undone when you taste the blandness and chew? How about later, when you can't sleep and are taking prescription antacids for heartburn? When, in the course of the consequences, do you learn?



Dante said...

Pink slime is everywhere. When out and about, I just try not to think about it. At home, I try to buy leaner meats. It's virtually impossible to add pink slime in any reasonable amount to ground beef and still fit the definitions of ground sirloin or ground round.

I also find myself buying a lot more Kosher food than I used to. I don't follow a Kosher diet but it's religion to those who do. I trust they're keeping things clean.

Too many times at Farmer's Markets I've seen things not homegrown trying to be passed of as such. I still remember the guy who tried to wash off the Del Monte stamps on the oranges he was selling. Farmer's Markets are just as unverifiable as fast food. They just have a better track record so far.

I ate at Taco Bueno last weekend and it was wonderful. I forgot what it was like to have decent Mexican fast food. It might be just as questionable but if so, they do a lot better job of hiding it. Taco Bell is almost proud of they put near meat experience on tacos. I'd like to now take a moment of silence to mourn the passing of Del Taco...

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Oh, Del Taco.

How Taco Bell came out on top of that competition still escapes me.

Dante said...

Del Taco lives on in some places (other than my heart). The home office is still alive and well in California. WR Grace owned most of the Del Taco franchises during its heyday. They sold out to Taco Bell. That's when the mass exodus of Del Taco happened. A few franchises remained (St Simons for example lasted long after the mass exodus).

The home office tried an expansion of its own in the mid-90's but most of the new stores were Mrs Winner's / Del Taco combos and that didn't last long. A franchise was recently opened in Spartanburg, SC. The owners plan to expand but I'm not sure if they're even profitable right now.

I also keep hearing the home office wants to expand back into Texas but I'll believe it when I see it. There's an awful lot of competition out there for fast food Mexican and there are people old enough to vote who were born after Del Taco left Texas. But I guess if Taco Casa can make it in the Lone Star State, anyone can...

jeffrey said...

Menckles looooooves Taco Bell. Furthermore, despite the vast sea of available contrary opinion regarding their fare's nutritional value, flavor, status as actual food, etc., she considers it a moral outrage that no Taco Bell restaurants are open within the bounds of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Not only that, but she is frequently given to opine (in so many words, sighs and facial expressions) that anyone who chooses to luxuriate in a Taco Bell free diet (I am one of those people) is being a pretentious douche.

This is one of the many reasons I married her.

patsbrother said...

Throughout my life, people have looked at me while I've eaten hot dogs or gellatin and said: "You know that's, like, horse hooves and rat tails, right?"

My reponse: as long as they made it taste good, I'm good to go. Really, we should be proud we've found acceptible uses for such things.

I do object to those who lie about what they're selling though. They should be proud of those hooves.

dsb said...

On this issue I'll proudly own up to being a "pretentious douche." Since I gave up meat many years ago I've never been tempted to go back to it. Not once, not even in the beginning. Keep in mind my father for most of his life was a butcher, so growing up I ate LOTS of prime cuts of meat, so it's not that I wasn't exposed to the good stuff.

I think of meat eating as simply a habit I gave up (don't worry, I have others!). Doesn't make me better, nor does it make me worse. The best thing about my meat-free diet might be it essentially eliminated all fast food from my life, excepting the occasional order of french fries. It creates the space for me to be unhealthy in other ways.

I'm just glad there's folks like patsbrother who pick up the slack and eat the horse hooves and rat tails I refrain from eating. Waste not want not, right?

patsbrother said...

Speaking of pretentious douches, the people I don't understand are those who demand some form of meat at EVERY meal. (I'm looking your way, Coozan.)

Often when I'm with people and I suggest eating at a vegetarian restaurant, they ask (quite earnestly) if I'm a vegetarian. Even people who had seen me eat large cheeseburgers the night before will ask me this question. It's as though their brains will blot out all indications that someone who likes meat could ever prefer anything else.

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

Do you remember that for almost a decade, I did not eat meat on Fridays? And that I gave meat up for Lent at least once? Please ask several of our friends in Athens about this, if you need references.

Giving up meat in our American culture is very, very difficult to do, especially if you have friends who go out to eat as a means of social activity.

But I can guarantee you that, if I have ever complained about going to a vegetarian restaurant, my complaints have more to do with the way the restaurant prepares their food than the type of food they prepare, or my desired food selection of that particular night.

Besides, I've only lived one place with a good vegetarian/vegan only restaurant, and that restaurant closed.

patsbrother said...

@Coozan. I considered inserting the completely awkward phrase "non-religiously dictated", but I wasn't talking about when someone is told (or encouraged) not to eat meat.

And for the record, I was not talking about Cousin Pat in the second paragraph. Had my own brother ever asked me if I was a vegetarian, I would have been shocked on an entirely different level, and had that been the case I'd have done up that paragraph, I assure you.