Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Fast (Food) and the Furious (Me)

The more I hear about eating clean, the more furious and confused I become. Which foods are considered clean, and furthermore, what is considered fast food? Where is this gray area, line in the sand, or are we all just kidding ourselves? Can foods be clean and fast?

Fast food used to be restaurants with a corporate name like McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Kentucky Fried Chicken: these restaurants have recognizable logos, teenagers manning the cash registers, a numbered ordering system, and food portions that always look and taste exactly the same, every single time, at any location. The food has been somehow scientifically developed to make really bad ingredients taste really awesome with the help of preservatives, fillers (wood?), or allowing people to drown it in ketchup. When people say, "Oh, I haven't eaten fast food in years!" I always think this is what they are referring to.

If fast food is, "food that can be prepared and served quickly," then don't most of us eat fast food on a daily basis? You'd have to consider hot dog stands or anywhere you can eat nacho cheese from a machine as fast food because these foods were invented to feed flocks on the fly. But, what about those tasty schwarma wraps at the farmer's market? They are made from meat that spins on a stick all day - it might be good meat, but it is definitely processed. If it is accepted at the farmer's market, a healthy place, it can't be bad for you. Right?

What about my triple-washed lettuce?

If you eat a burrito at a taqueria, it is fast food. If it is at a sit down Mexican restaurant, it is not fast food. . . that just doesn't make any sense. Explain.

Does making it in a vat and letting it sit around for hours make it fast food? What about buffets?If sitting in a vat = fast food. Then, all buffets = fast food. Remember that the next time you pay $60 to eat at the Bellagio!

Did you bake that muffin? I didn't think so.

So, what about slow cooking? It says slow in the name, so that can't possibly be fast? But, have you looked at a slow cooker recipes?! Many of them call for cans or boxes of ingredients. So, you are making your fast food and cooking it slow. That seems ridiculous.

*Steam starts rising from ears*

I think food and diets in general are mind boggling. I watch these Foster Farms Chicken commercials that claim their chicken is never frozen and there is no salt water added. But, salt is a natural ingredient that you would probably add anyway. And corn is a natural ingredient that, when made into a syrup, is bad for you. And now that McDonalds is advertising that their lettuce comes from a a nice family farmer in Salinas. . . . Arghhhh!

*Brain explodes!*

Do you understand why I'm so furious about food?

Where do you draw the line? Is fast food now limited to the stuff with "disgusting" (insert your definition here) ingredients, partially hydrogenated something-or-others, or have to once be sent down a conveyor belt? It sounds like the only tried-and-true method of eating clean is to prepare it yourself, or get to know hunters or farmers. If I need to start hunting and growing my own veggies, there is going to be a problem. First, I will need to buy a gun and learn how to use it (There is a cat in my neighborhood who is really getting on my nerves . . . Just kidding. Nice kitty.), and I'm going to have to figure out how to grow enough veggies for two people on the balcony of my condo. Ok, seriously though - there are plenty of ways to get fresh meat and produce around here: fresh fish from the ocean, farmer's markets, veggie delivery services, and of course Whole Foods Markets. But it just seems like so much extra work to track down the origin of plant and animal species to make sure they are clean.

This is the modern world. If astronauts can live off of freeze-dried fruit, then so can I! If I have the chance to go to the farmer's market or buy free range eggs, I will do so. But, giving up the conveniences of the modern world? Nu uh. Ain't gonna do it.


  1. I often think the same thing. Just what is "fast food"? It's such a vague moniker. Like we can somehow put all the disgusting-ness of McD's and Jack in the Box in the same category as Erik's DeliCafe and ToGo’s. Never made sense to me either.

    I personally think a better way to think about it is "whole, natural, non-processed foods" versus "processed, refined, mechanically separated and reconstituted, reformulated, artificially flavored foods”. Or, fresh versus from a can or box.

    And you’re right. It does take more work. But all it is really is creating good habits. Weekly trips to the farmers market. Buying the same foods at the grocery store, but choosing the fresh, (and local if possible) option rather than the canned or boxed version that comes from who-knows-where.

    It does take a little extra effort and thought, but it’s our lives. It’s worth it!

  2. I agree with what you are saying, and any time there is a choice to pick something that does not come from a can or box, I'm game. But, there also seem to be processed foods that aren't necessarily bad: frozen peas or dried fruits that last longer than the organic stuff, or shit - Twizzlers!(So many calories fewer than a slice of vegan chocholate cake.)

    Also, what is non-processed? Pasta is processed, as is regular milk, and wine....

    Giving up these foods is a life I refuse to lead. :)