Monday, March 24, 2008

Are Convenience Foods Really Convenient, and Are They Really Food?

In the last post, we talked about how modern society has transformed old-fashioned cleaning products (like baking soda and white vinegar) into advanced options that aren’t necessarily as good as the original . . . and aren’t necessarily good at all.

The idea of “improving” a product so it’s a pale representation of how it started out isn’t limited to cleaning products, of course. I’ve been on an anti-prepared food crusade for quite some time after I started to look at the ingredient lists of the food I ate. When did fillers, additives, and coloring become acceptable substitutes for real food? Again, it seems to come down to convenience, yet I’m amazed again and again at how so-called convenience items are terribly inconvenient. Sure, it was a breeze to pop that frozen meal in the microwave and have dinner on the table in just five minutes, but consider what comes next: The stomachache, the drop in energy, the weight gain over time.

I believe “convenience foods” is a misnomer both because they aren’t convenient and they aren’t always food. I’m not perfect by any stretch of the imagination and occasionally indulge in frozen meals myself (although I only eat products from companies like that include ingredients I can pronounce) but I don’t make a habit of it. I enjoy putting together a garden salad or a batch of homemade marinara. All of us complain of a lack of time, yet many waste lots of it with “activities” like watching television. If you just can’t miss your favorite show, buy a small TV for your kitchen and catch your program while you chop, marinate, and sauté.

Question of the blog: If you read food labels, how has it changed the way you eat? And what’s your favorite healthy convenience food?

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