Thursday, July 8, 2010

There is something wrong if food served is the size of a butt!

My Dad says that cooking is eighty percent heart, ten percent science, and ten percent art. You can tell that food is an integral part of our lives.

While there are a few who eat to live, I love my food with passion. The whole nine yards: purchasing, cooking, and entertaining. Uttering food, burden, and compromise in the same breath is sacriligeous for me. Maybe because my mother is an exceptionally good cook, and she NEVER prepared mediocre food or complained about cooking. She was ahead of her time in terms of her culinary abilities. When most women from her generation were trying their hand at stuffed parathas, she was baking us pizza, lasagna, roast chicken, and chocolate cakes etc.

South Asians, in the last decade or so, have started catching up on the health mantra. But I remember my mom would make us different kinds of cuisines, including healthy stuff like soups, salads, and grilled fish from the time I was a pre-teen. She introduced us to the concept of cooking and savoring food without murdering it with oil and kilos of spices.

Needless to say, I am obsessive about what my husband and I eat. And I take copious amounts of pleasure and pain in getting our raw ingredients from organic and health food stores and cooking fresh meals. So, it bothers me when I am in a situation (for an extended period of time) where unhealthy or terribly cooked grub is the only available option.

Last weekend, my husband and I were in south central Michigan for two days before we headed off to Ohio for a very dear cousin’s engagement. This town in MI was like nothing I had ever seen before. Forget wine bars, this town didn’t even have a coffee shop to its name. Their best restaurants came with crayon colors, plastic glasses, sticky tables, three varieties of soup laden with cheese, and servers with bad haircuts. I shudder as I think. I remember, at one of the “popular” restaurants, the waitress brought me salad in a bowl the size of a tub. A family of three could have eaten for two days from that. Wait, it doesn’t end there. She garnished my fresh greens and grilled chicken with a pond of ranch dressing. Dude, if I wanted ranch dressing, I would order buffalo wings not salad.

The good thing with the place being dead was that we got a lot of our work done. On one of the evenings, my husband and I decided to catch a late night movie at a drive-in since we had been working all day. We showed up with a bottle of water because the movie was to start only at 10:00 p.m., which meant it was post-dinner. But lo and behold, most others either came armed with pizza boxes or bought themselves a scoop of cardiac arrest at the hot dog store along with bottles of fizzy drinks. I couldn’t help but notice that portliness was in the air.

I was in San Francisco (SF) in the third week of June. I have always appreciated SF, like other visitors, because of how pretty it is. But it was something else living there and experiencing the local lifestyle. Two things I really loved about San Francisco: people exercise regularly and most of them eat well (at least people my age). The menus at restaurants were always so enticing. You had your share of sinful food but there were also delicious, healthy options available. On one hand, it’s a vegan’s paradise; on the other, we had no problem finding places that served organic meats and natural foods. And come to think of it, I saw leaner and fitter folks in SF compared to where we were last weekend.

Aside from SF, a few years ago, I remember liking one other city (would consider living there) - Boulder, CO a lot because of how health conscious and fit the locals were.

So, these experiences made me wonder about the fattest states in the United States. After all, eating habits have a direct impact on obesity and our health. With minimal effort, I came across this link: I wasn’t shocked at what I read.

Warnings from National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Heart Association clearly hasn’t made a dent to the physical prosperity of people in certain parts of the country. Restaurants have their own business models to deal with, but can’t we at least start making the change in our own homes?


More until next time, 


Copyright © 07. 08.2010



“To say that obesity is caused by merely consuming too many calories is like saying that the only cause of the American Revolution was the Boston Tea Party” ~ Adelle Davis



Hena said...

Gawd! Sweta, you sound so much like us....for me dressings are always on the side as I don't know what to expect in a new place :).

Also, I would hate to be a shikaar of lifestyle diseases :(

BC said...

There has been a sea of changes in the eating habits,all around the world, to keep pace with the limited physical exercises that a host of elite job opportunities provide today.If someone does not agree to abide with the rules of the game under the changed situation, digging own grave could only be the hidden intentions.

From Venus said...

I'm very intrigued by Jamie Oliver these days, and his reality show Food Revolution highlights the kind of food that's served in American schools... it's appaling and mind-numbing, not to mention saddening that these future-citizens will dictate what the country eats (if they make it that far)!

S said...

I have to be honest but this article reeked of a urban big city slicker...we tend to forget in our upworldly snooty attitude where the people of small town mid-west came from. In my eyes, comparing two big major cities to an economically deprived, in some ways abandoned parts of Mid-west just doesn't do justice. A little bit of empathy, understanding goes a long way!

My two cents said...

Dear S,

Thanks for taking out the time to read and comment on this point. The point of the post wasn’t to let mid-west down or promote bigger cities over small towns.

In today’s day and age, especially in a country like America, people aren’t information-deprived. Every media channel, news article, health report talks about the issue of obesity consuming the US. Americans spend more than Europeans and Canadians on healthcare. Diabetes and bad heart conditions have become an epidemic. Clearly, we have a problem.

Yes, I am shocked the younger generation has not made healthy lifestyle choices in certain parts of the country despite knowing the outcome of unhealthy living. My generation grew up eating sinful food too because the generation above us was introduced to health and fitness mantra much later in their lives. But haven’t most of us caught on, including our parents? Aren’t we making an effort to sacrifice taste for health? Don’t we, despite our over-committed lives, hit the gym every so often?

Economically deprived doesn’t mean you don’t have alternatives. Instead of meat-lovers pizza, the same folks could eat sautéed vegetable with meat for a much lower price. Instead of fries, it could be baked potato. Instead of broccoli with cheese and white sauce, one could eat steamed broccoli. And what about portion control? When a kiddie meal comes with three sausage links, three strips of bacon, two scrambled eggs, and two pancakes, I think the problem isn’t about not being able to afford food.

These folks are closer to farms, so fresh fruits are a choice. Most people live in houses with backyards – one could work on a vegetable garden.

And what about exercise? A 30-minute walk would make a big difference. Calorie intake and calorie burn have to be in somewhat of a rhythm.

One can empathize with poverty not ignorance.

Keep the feedback coming! Have a good weekend!