Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Food for Thought

I had to drive to Union City last night and stopped on my return trip home to get something to eat. In the past I would have grabbed a cheeseburger from the drive thru at McDonalds. I saw a brightly lit sign for a Hawaiian BBQ joint that sounded good so I stopped. Before entering I had visions of a grilled chicken kabob on a scoop of rice and iced tea with lemon. That was what I really wanted. Something grilled, clean, light and filling.

I should have taken a clue from the gigantic menu pictures over the counter that this place was not going to have what I wanted... but partly because I was so hungry and partly because I had just spent 5 minutes looking for a place to park, I decided to stay.

There they were in all their full color glory, oversized portions of brown, fried, fat ridden,highly processed uninspired food. This place encompassed everything I hate about our fast food culture... yet I decided to stay. I was already there and could surely find something that would satisfy my hunger without pushing me over the cliff.
After letting 4 people in line go ahead of me and not seeing anything I wanted, I described to the guy taking orders my kabob over rice vision. He recommended the BBQ chicken "mini meal" so that's what I ordered.
My first observation was that my "mini meal" was huge. There were 3 big pieces of chicken, rice and macaroni salad all served over a bed of steamed cabbage. At first sight, not a bad looking meal. I ate one piece of the chicken, all of the rice and some of the cabbage. The macaroni salad had an intense artificial / chemical induced taste to me so I didn't eat any of that. The chicken was disappointing and had a highly processed taste as well. I kept having visions of institutional chicken operations where 6 chickens are stuffed into cages and forced fed until they reach maturity. It looked good but it wasn't.
I ended up pitching the remaining food in the trash and walked out feeling bad about having just consumed such an unsatisfying meal.  
I think about our society and how much our eating patterns have changed over the years. About how it is so easy and accessible to eat out all the time now. Things like the dollar menu at McDonalds and how that plays out in our present economy?  How places like Costco have changed how we shop and how we buy large quantities of food items and then have to eat it all. How much money we spend on junk food with little nutritional value. How our taste has changed and is more a product of big money marketing studies into things that create chemically produced textures that are more about "mouthfeel" and less about the integrity of a quality product. In short, our present day society is designed to encourage impulsive behavior. Instant gratification will always come at a price.

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