Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Yes, I'm the Woman Judging Your Purchases in the Grocery Line

Okay, so I challenged everyone to guess the three products whose ingredients I posted (ahem) SEVERAL weeks ago and promised I would reveal them the following week. However, I got busy writing something else instead. You get what you pay for.

I know how many of you visit this site (and where you reside...a big welcome to visitors from Australia and Indonesia), and yet no one wagered a guess. I imagine it was easy enough to surmise that one was a savory product and the other two were sweet, but, other than that, there aren't a lot of clues regarding the nature of the products in the ingredients lists. They are as follows:

1. "devil's food cake" mix,
2. "milk chocolate" icing,
3. a packet of "brown gravy" mix.

I put the food names in quotation marks because one cannot call any of these items real food. Having looked at recipes for the first product, I gotta say that I don't see the necessity of buying it "pre-made." There aren't a whole lot of ingredients in the homemade version. But let's suppose you work 40 hours a week (as I do) and want your evenings and weekends relatively free (as we all do). In a few minutes, you could mix the following ingredients together, put them in a sealable, re-usable container, and put them in the freezer (yes, I'm assuming a lot by assuming you have a could keep it in the cupboard, just be aware that whole wheat flour goes rancid in high temps). You could even double or triple the batch for more cake later.

Healthier Devil's Food Cake PreMix
In one bag, mix together:
1 cup brown cane sugar
3/4 cup cane sugar

In another bag, mix together:
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups whole wheat cake flour (yes, there is such a thing)
1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Now, when you're ready to bake a cake, pull your two bags out of the freezer.

Remember the French saying, "mise en place" and get the following ingredients on the counter. Next to your mixing bowl:

1 1/2 sticks organic butter
4 large organic free-range eggs (if you can, look for someone who sells eggs from chickens who roam around eating insects all day)

Cream 1 1/2 sticks of softened organic butter with the sugars. Add four eggs to this mixture one at a time, beating well. Then add the rest of the mix. Stir a few times (just enough to get everything mixed). Pour half into two 8-inch cake pans. Bake 30-35 minutes.

You're done...well, unless you want icing on your cake, but there are a million recipes for it online, and it too is fairly easy to make.

Now, I also said I would explain how I came up with the total calories for the meal. If you'll recall, that was 1208 in toto. A serving of cake with icing and a serving of the brown gravy add up to 435 calories. I figured the brown gravy was probably for a pot roast; that's 334 calories for a single serving of beef. I also assumed that mashed potatoes were one of the most likely side dishes. That's another 237 calories. There would be at least one other side dish in the meal: how about green beans cooked down with a slice of bacon and some onion for 90 calories? Then add a King's Hawaiian sweet roll for 180 calories, and it actually comes out to more than 1208 calories. I picked King's because I see their rolls everywhere, so I'm guessing a lot of people eat them around here. A meat and two, plus bread and dessert seems like a fairly typical American meal to me. Unless you're at my house.

First, I became pescatarian (more or less) about two months ago (except for Sundays when the Holy Eucharist comes in the form of bacon and champagne...and unlimited opportunities for receiving the body and the Cathedral of St. Michelangelo on Toad Suck Square in good ol' Conwag). I did this for a lot of reasons: my health and the need to economize (my husband goes fishing seven kidding...a week). But mainly I did it because I want to eliminate my relationship with the corporate food industry. I can't live with the moral questions raised by eating meat that comes from animals I know were inhumanely slaughtered by humans working in inhumane conditions. Not only that, the two main backbones of the convenience-food industry are GM soybeans and GM corn. I can't bring myself to support an industry (*cough* Monsanto) that lies about its mission, which isn't to feed a projected 9 billion people in the future. Their true mission is what they tell their shareholders: to make money. And GM corn is what they feed to animals that did not evolve to eat it. And I want to ask, how well will Monsanto be feeding the world given the drought most of the country is in right now? Genetically modified corn might tolerate Round Up, but it can't withstand Mother Nature any better than a regular crop.

Second, I'm picky. I don't like sweets, so the Western version of breakfast doesn't generally cut it. I often do as the Japanese and Koreans and eat the same things I eat for lunch and dinner: a bowl of soup, some tuna from a can, a little scattered sushi, some steamed vegetables. Except for the tuna (which I take no credit for), everything is made on Sunday. If I need something really quick, I make a single serving of organic popcorn and eat an apple or frozen berries. All things that, when they come out of their packages, are identifiable as food.

So, yes, I'm the one behind you in the supermarket watching every single item you put on the conveyor. But I'm not really judging you. I'm judging what corporations have done to our food system...eliminating the small butcher shop, the bakery store, the corner market in every neighborhood that you could walk to when you forgot the milk and eggs. I don't want you to buy the ground beef. I don't want you to buy it because it's bad for you, the environment, the animals sacrificed for it, and the economy of the middle class. I don't want you to buy the Healthy Choice cookies and Lean Cuisine entree because, despite all marketing implications to the contrary, they will not make you thin. I don't want you to buy convenience foods like brown gravy packets, cake mix, and ready-made icing because they will eventually lead you to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

That being said, would anyone like a free box of cake mix with a package of icing and a brown gravy packet? Anyone?

Photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via Creative Commons Attribution License. Some Rights Reserved.