Tosca Says...

"It is the food that we eat which is responsible for shaping such a vast array of body types. Yes, the food!" - Tosca Reno, Author of The Eat Clean Diet

Monday, September 3, 2012

If It Doesn't Rot...

I'm sure by now you've heard about all the (mind you, unofficial) "tests" that claim to show how a fast food burger (and sometimes it's accompanying fries) never rots. Recently, this picture came across one of my social media feeds:

Um, blech.

In the interest of providing an informed and non-biased approach to the non-rotting hamburger conversation, might I recommend you read this fantastic scientific experiment by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. He is a self-proclaimed "part mad scientist, part chef" who looks at the science behind our everyday foods, and did this experiment in response to other similar (but obviously biased and completely non-scientific) ones. 

If you don't have time to read through it all, I'll give you the nutshell version. Basically, his (incredibly thorough and scientific-in-method) experiment showed that it wasn't just the fast food hamburger that failed to decompose. The hand-ground burger didn't either. Anti-fast food and health food fanatics shuddered at these results, I'm sure, and were probably sent scrambling to disprove his experiment but, as far as I can tell, none have been successful. 

Rest assured, I don't think Kenji did this experiment to prove that eating a fast-food burger is a truly healthy choice. His experiment really only touches on a few of the facets of what contributes to the decomposition (or lack thereof) in the subjects he used. It did not take into account (as far as I can tell) any chemical make-up (artificial or otherwise) that might have contributed to the burgers' preservation (such as any added hormones or what the cow that ultimately became these burgers was fed.)

Recently, a friend of mine tweeted this statement upon leaving the drive-through: "Every time I eat at [a fast-food restaurant] all I can think is, 'that should not have happened that quickly.' "

I concur. Have you ever pondered what makes something "fast food?"

There's a saying that has been discussed in books and on blogs at length lately (meaning, in the past few years) that basically states this: Eat what your grandmother (or great-grandmother, depending on your age) ate, and nothing that she didn't.

I tend to both agree and disagree with this sentiment. I'll save my thoughts on the former for another post. For now, I want to focus on the latter: What grandma NEVER ate.

There are a lot of things grandma never ate and a lot of reasons for it. Either it wasn't feasible or accessible (financially or otherwise), or it didn't exist

Think about what didn't exist at the time your grandmother (or great-grandmother) was growing up. I don't know about you, but my grandma didn't have things like potato chips or mac-n-cheese in a box. She didn't have frozen "TV" dinners and she most certainly didn't have a microwave!  

So what do potato chips, TV dinners, and boxed macaroni and cheese have in common? They all came about with the invention of artificial chemical preservatives. At the time, with no real scientific evidence to prove any harmful effects, this invention was brilliant. Food could be enjoyed long after it was "produced" without worry of harmful bacteria, spoilage, or illness. The food industry suddenly had the potential to greatly increase their marketability to potential consumers who lived a far greater distance than their product's life could naturally withstand. Stay-at-home mom's meal preparations were instantly simplified. Astronauts would have food to eat in space.  A snowball effect ensued. More available and longer-lasting products meant the need for a bigger marketplace (leading to the SUPERmarkets we know today) which led to more consumers which led to the need for more (preserved) products. And on and on and on....

And now what do we (as in, the United States) have?  Health problems that didn't exist before artificial preservation and the highest obesity rate in the world (see report here.) Not only do we have the highest rate, we beat out the #2 spot by a bigger margin than any other concurring countries.

Coincidence? I don't think so. 

This leads me to challenge you to ponder this thought:
If it doesn't rot, 
can it be considered real food?

And if it's not real food,
do I really want it in my body?
(No matter how good it tastes.)

80% of what you see in the mirror is a direct result of what you are putting INTO your body. This means only a small amount of what is being reflected back at you on any given day can be contributed to genetics and/or one's exercise routine (or lack thereof.)

Credit: Google Images;

Credit: Google Images;
So what's a person (or country) to do? How do we fight back? 

The answer might seem as complex as the chemicals that make up your favorite snack-in-a-bag. But it really is simple. 

We change our purchasing and eating habits (and that of our families) first. We focus on learning as much as we can about the benefits of eating real food (and the detriments of everything else, if you dare.) We work to replace our favorite chemically-laden foods with real alternatives. Then we let the ensuing transformations speak for themselves. Others will start asking questions. And we'll share with them what we know and how we are doing it. And they will eventually and inevitably follow. And on and on and on...

In essence, we start our own snowball effect.