And my submission for the week? Is Big Food like Big Tobacco - my reflections on a recent paper by Yale and Michigan researchers studying obesity and how Big Food contributes to it - using some tactics favored by Big Tobacco.
A zillion years ago I worked in the kitchen of a country French restaurant. As their intern, I was responsible for making Sunday night dinner, pizza. Most Sundays I had an appealing range of produce and cheeses and toppings to choose from. And then, on this fateful, terrible Sunday, the only cheese the sous chefs would let me use was cream cheese.
This isn't one of those stories that turns out well. I ended up making a truly wretched pizza and no one on the line ever let me forget about it. And 15 years later I still think about it. It haunts me. Sometimes I dream about it. You see, curry and cream cheese pizza with anchovies doesn't go over well with the comfort food crowd (simple is better at staff meal).
Why is this relevant? Because a few weeks ago I challenged - on Twitter - a manufacturer of cream cheese to develop a pizza with cream cheese that didn't taste wretched. Today they posted on their website a recipe named for...me.
I laughed as I read through the ingredients. Dressing. Cream cheese. Refrigerated crescent rolls. Then I felt uncomfortable.
They took something that I had made entirely from scratch (minus the cream cheese) and turned it into something processed, fast, and fatty (c'mon, pre-made tube crescent rolls are devil spawn. Have you ever taken one apart? Or read the label?). A few crudite on top elevated the snack to 'healthy'. Okay, but last time i checked, when you use cream cheese, dressing and crescent dough in a dish, healthy may be the last adjective you would be allowed to use to describe it. And then they put my name on it.
On the one hand I'm flattered - sure, I challenged them to develop a recipe and they took the challenge, ran with it, and said it was "Linsey-inspired". But if my inspiration is the basis for a processed food smorgasbord, I've got to work on my message a bit.
So I'll start here. START COOKING MORE. STOP RELYING ON FOOD PROCESSORS TO HAVE YOUR BEST INTERESTS IN MIND WHEN YOU USE THEIR RECIPES OR BUY THEIR PRODUCTS. You are better off buying yourself a great SIMPLE cookbook and teaching yourself how to make those things.
I should know. I worked for big food for 4 years. And if you think we put you in front of our sales and profits, you'd be dead wrong.
Which takes me to Food Renegade. On Fridays, Food Renegade hosts "Fight Back" - a day dedicated to blogging about real food.Think sustainable, local, raw, traditional, home made. Recipes, profiles, opinion pieces, etc are all fair game. If you check here on the Food Renegade's website, you'll find links to other bloggers doing their part to fight back today.
And, if you haven't seen my post about it already, check out this piece about three women who started a venture called RV Eatin' to educate people in Pittsburgh about sustainability, local food, cooking, and community through nutritious, local, mostly vegan and inexpensive meals served from their vintage RV. Though not a non-profit, RV Eatin' seeks only to cover their expenses, which largely consists of the gas they need to tow a charming vintage RV to the sites of their dinners. Last summer, meals were only $10 a person.