27 Feb 2012
I began to think about reality TV the other day and how pervasive it has become in the menu of TV show offerings. The idea here is that these shows feature everyday people and documents their lives or puts them in specific situations and captures their reactions. A few years ago, I lived with a roommate who reveled in reality TV and would make plans accordingly, aligning her schedule with those of the shows that were her “can’t miss.” Certain channels bask in filling up their time slots with reality TV shows. They know what we do, drama makes a story better.
Real food has become a buzzword and up until recently, one that I would say felt redundant. Isn’t all food real? Once you start perusing an ingredient panel or consider what fillers are used to give the item in question the right look or the right taste, it gets more complicated. Just like the aforementioned TV shows that try to get a slice of life in the day of an American not so similar to us, not so disimilar from us, we look for our food to be what it says it is. If it’s a hamburger, then you expect a grilled patty and bun. To break down each item and look at its sum parts can be eye opening. I think that this is in great part a reason for the Food DIY movement that has emerged. We want to know what is in our food so making it from scratch gives that ease of mind (and feels good).
Not everyone can cook everything from scratch and this is where minimally processed foods come into the picture. I carried out an experiment late last fall to see if I could make Uncle Sam from scratch in my kitchen, knowing it has a few ingredients and is made with a simple process. I warmed myself that winter day in my kitchen and in the end was successful.
If we took the same approach to food that we do to television and created a category called reality food, I think we would be surprised to see how the average American plate at meal time stacks up to the recommended USDA my plate. Food in reality might look different from the real food suggestions. And like so much else in life, implementing real food into a menu unused to reserving its allotted space on the plate, starts with baby steps. As an example you can become a vegetable lover with some experimentation of technique. Take cabbage, you can steam it, braise it, roast it or even ferment it. As a cruciferous vegetable, it’s chock full of good nutrients. A little oil and kosher salt draw out its natural sweetness. We could go through a long laundry list of veggies, legumes and fruits. As we age, let us see that real food really is our advocate and ally.
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