Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Calling every boy, every girl...

A new year. So filled with opportunity, isn’t it?  Just thinking of bits of deliciousness to unearth and healthful-affordable recipes for sharing thrills me right down to my core.
So do these! Redolent, dark, rich and creamy; I couldn’t resist C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.
It would be remiss if I were to skip-out on these bites.
 Yup. To put it succinctly, these dinner-spoilers are both my butter and my daily bread.
 One mouthful for me; all eyes for you.
As I nibble, I think, "Why? Why  do chocolates taste so gosh-darn perfect?" Chocolate is well, chocolate, and there is no other that holds more allure than multant gooey-goodness that lingers only to leave me ready for the next light-and-fluffy bite.

It's truth, my friends: this coming-back-for-more-seduction is but a foolproof tactic to food marketers. The marketers' goal? For us (the eater, buyer or the buyer’s accomplice) to pick their product as a remedy to any craving. Their sales pitch might as well plead, "Pick US as your poison!”

Don’t believe me? Then here is Coke’s food scientist gloating the essence of soda, “...In our fruit flavors we’re talking about, we want a burst in the beginning. And maybe a finish that doesn’t linger too much so that you want more of it.”  To hear more, listen to this video. And,  in case you wonder what food scientists do, they adulterate far-out flavors like these, colors like those, and or precarious ingredients  to mix into the most pleasing entree.  

Maybe processed foods and beverages are the major culprits.  You knowthe half-baked, partially hydrogenated (also known as "illegal" trans fats found in these foods) mis-pronouceable, boxed ingredients we call our beloved All-American cuisineare engineered to satisfy our taste-buds’ fix.

But, are these foods addictive? I couldn’t justify an answer nor am I out to vilify the food industry. I like too many of these goodies (but not to my detriment) to do that.
Here’s a local cupcakery with cannoli cream filled cakes, buttercream frosted white chocolate cake with mascarpone  filling, vanilla cake imbued with Samoas or Snickers or Reeses, a tuxedoed cream cheese frosting on top a cocoa bottom and so much more!
How about this one...a homemade local plum and peach tart iced with homemade blueberry-lime jam
You can’t go wrong with this onemy first long-neck pumpkin pie. Its flavor comes to life with a splash of bourbon.

The Food Industry: A Change of Pace?
Food makers seem to vacillate between signs of better-for-you discoveries and the omens of profitable fat, sugar, corn and processing. 

A couple months ago, change-makers in the public and private sectors (like food industry, government, foodies, movers-shakers, you name it) met to brainstorm transformative action in the Partnership for a Healthier America.  They challenged the current projections about American health by altering children’s programs to grow healthier peeps while devising new partnerships and funding avenues to support them. 

Amidst the speculation, they took this study into account.  It addresses the bottom-line advice that industry can profitably make the healthier foods or behaviors the easier choice for Americans. Let's wait to see results. 

Take Fruity Faces for starters. Though full of sugar and additives, I believe this product enlivens wholesome possibilities. Whats more, the “Got Milk” ads will now feature your favorite breakfast Cereal characters. Most of the chosen cartoons represent relatively healthful cereals; except Tony the Tiger from Frosted Flakes (This cereal misses the federal and industry mark by a looong shot because of the ample amount of added sugar)....Oh well, maybe I’m nit-picking. 

The Food Industry: Hesitant to Change their Direction
 For now, companies who make sodas, sugary cerealfries and other ambrosial delights cry out for your lapping tongue! The marketers take any means to obtain their hankering....at any cost. Just look at the amount of lobbying money (skip down to the $$ projections at the base of the lobbying link) they spent to continue advertisements, for children no less. According to Marion Nestle’s account, the food industry fought this kind of nutrition regulation with $37 million.  Why?

So they could nutritionally classify pizza as a “vegetable” for school meals. 
Side Note: the calories in 1 slice of pizza = 5 cups of carrots but with 9 times the fat and 14 times less fiber. The registered dietitian in me wishes people eat a pizza for protein and grains and a side dish of carrots for their vegetable fill.)
 In this picture I even pack the vegetables on top. Don’t let the purple color fool you, it is a whole wheat  pizza-pie loaded with my signature blend of chicken sausage, purple cabbage, onions and  roasted sweet peppers strewn across melty cheese and red sauce.
 Even more interesting would be the addition of purple or dragon red carrots as a side!

Back to my question: why does food industry flaunt what’s unhealthy? So that the potato agribusiness representatives can use their clout (and $$) to keep fried potatoes as a school cafeteria staple? Maybe...

Or, I know! Lobbying food companies get reimbursed. It’s about increasing product sales and monetary pay-backs (Please listen to this NPR segment for more details!). Though predominant in this area, lobbying happens in every sector, not just the food system.

The Food Industry: Repercussions of Their Greed
 Why can’t these lobbiests forget about the money and remember whom they are targeting? The kids. Can’t we come up with common sensical reasons not to inoculate the young, growing youth with unhealthy behaviors. Because of the obesity epidemic future generations are predicted to die younger than their parents. Unhealthy kids will be hospitalized more often. Maybe they won’t be as productive as their peers with so many secondary issues to obesity (70% of obese kids have one risk factor for heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, the list goes on...). 

This Youtube campaign states my case loud and absolute: currently, much of the food industry seduces kids with delicious treats. Yale and the Robert Wood Johnson foundation also printed a report on the  influence of internet gaming (Case in point, Fruity Pebble’s Flinstone online games) on kid’s food purchases.

It’s Your Turn. Take Action.
 The People campaign aims to topple the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which held that “corporations are people.” If this ruling were to change it would alter two things: (1) corporations would have to disclose their political spending, and (2) it would ardently dismiss big money from politics (lobbying in part). If you wish to confront corporate influence on politics, put your word in by signing this petition to call the president into action.

You can always support one of these organizations too! 

If you’re not into this whole political thing; you can always buy you, your family or your future family healthy, well-balanced meals. Vote with your food dollar.
 Sammy urges us to go for the cause! And, who could say no to that puppy face...

That’s all for now. 

Eat well, and keep frosty!