Jul 8, 2008

where is all the food?

I went to the supermarket today. This is kinda unusual for me, because Merl has "Daddy-daughter time" on Saturday mornings with Miss4 and they go to the various veggie markets and the supermarket for the food shopping then.

This past Saturday the weather was utterly filthy and we decided to have a day inside looking out the window at sleet and snow.

The up-shot being that we ran out of bread. I did bake, but I forgot the bread was in the oven and it got more than a bit over-cooked. Now, we don't mind crunchy crusts, but it'd be nice if we could actually cut the bread. So. The supermarket.

Usually when I go in, I have a specific purchase in mind, find my way more or less directly to the aisle, select the best value for money and, having (usually) refused a plastic bag, make my exit.

Today, Miss4 and I pushed Miss1 in the trolley up and down all the aisles, as we had a small selection of things on the mental list. I was struck the vast quantity of "not-food" that was for sale. Aisle after aisle of food-substitutes. Jars of brightly coloured corn-starch goop (also known as 'simmer sauces', 'pasta sauces', 'stir-fry sauces', to add to your frozen packets of pre-chopped veges and pre-chopped meat, to serve up on your boil-in-a-bag white rice. A vast array of muesli bars/snack bars/fruit-squeezy things, each claiming to be more healthy and a more complete breakfast/snack/meal-substitute than the last. Chippies, of course. Not-Chippies (apple chips, puffed grain chips, reconstituted potato chips). Biscuits. Not-Biscuits (aka crackers). Chocolate. Boiled sweets. instant soups. instant noodles. instant gravy.

Of course, none of this is actually new to me, but I was struck by the strangeness of it today.

If the average trolley leaving the supermarket reflects the average shelf-stocking of the supermarket, then what on earth are we eating??

Why are so many 'foods' being touted as low in calories? (okay, I know the answer to that one). But really, if a food has no calories, it is not actually food.

I don't know what it is, but it isn't food.

And all these not-foods are really expensive, compared to, say a bag of potatoes and some salad greens.

As an aside, I am not averse to using the odd packet of instant gravy, and in fact bought 4 tins of condensed tomato soup today, because they are so handy for making a quick meal, or flavouring a pasta sauce, or making butter chicken (Mmmmmm, butter chicken). I've just been thinking a lot lately about what food is, what we eat food for, and planning my garden around providing some of the essentials - carbs (potatoes), proteins (peas and beans), vitamins and minerals (coloured veggies and fruits), and of course flavour (herbs and fruits).

Modified corn starch doesn't appear anywhere on my list of essential food groups, but is present in large quantities in almost every pre-prepared food around. gross.

aside #2 petrol went up to $2.19 per litre today for unleaded 91octane. A litre is about the same volume as a quart, for the north americans among us. ouch.

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