My husband went on a short trip last week, leaving me home with double my chores, among other things. To console myself I did what I usually do: I went to the grocery store and stocked up on my personal selection of “comfort foods.” Low carbs be damned! At the top of the list: Stouffer’s Macaroni & Cheese, and Boboli pizza bread with extra, extra Boboli sauce. I have rather poor eating habits if left to my own rhythms. I tend to go all day on a couple of cups of coffee, then late in the afternoon, or early evening I start eating, and I snack, nibble, eat, all night till it’s time to go to bed. (Yes, I do know that’s not the recommended way, but we can save that for a different discussion. Luckily I’m not alone much, so these habits don’t happen very often.)
Always a big favorite, a thin Boboli pizza bread covered thickly with the same brand sauce, sprinkled with hot red peppers flakes and baked till incredibly crispy. My first clue that something had changed was how the sauce came out of the plastic bag – in the past, I would clip or tear the end of the bag, turn it upside down over the bread, and then squeeze the bag to make the sauce even start to move! So thick was the sauce that I used to roll the end of the bag, like a tube of toothpaste to make the sauce come out. Now, all I had to do was turn the plastic sac over, the sauce gushed out, no problem. The color is lighter, and although the oregano seasoning seemed similar, an overpowering sweetness made me wonder how much HFCS the sauce might contain (a quick consultation of the packaging revealed it’s the 3rd ingredient, and instead of tomato paste as the first ingredient, it’s now water!). The bread had looked the same in the sac, but once out on the pizza pan it seemed blander than usual, and of a different consistency. I was totally disappointed in the end results; this long time favorite dates back to my Michigan days; we’re talking almost 2 decades of this being a favorite snack! My taste buds remember what this treat is supposed to taste like, and this mess was not it!
Ever since “the recession of 2009” it seems as if the quality of almost everything, in all arenas, has dropped off the charts. From mattresses (a story I am years from being able to justly tell) to major appliances to minor appliances, things that used to last 30+ years, we’re now LUCKY if they last 5.
And foods, processed, off the shelf foods, have not only shrunk in size for the same money (witness ice cream that always used to come in 1/2 gallon cartons now come in 1.5 quart cartons), but the ingredients used have been changed too. For example, things that never used to have artificial flavoring, like graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate, are all now polluted; you have to look hard for any microwave popcorn that doesn’t contain either artificial or “natural” flavoring. Both things out of test tubes!
Disappointed and disgusted with my Boboli pizza, I popped the Stouffers Macaroni & Cheese in the oven. Being a hater of plastic in the kitchen, especially in the microwave with food inside, I removed the frozen chunk from the plastic baking dish it came in, and placed it in a glass pan. I then baked it to what I hoped would be perfection and was extremely excited yet apprehensive, as I sat down to eat.
Disappointment came over me in waves as I took my first few bites. I’d gotten a hint something was different, just by the way the stuff looked. Gone was the rich cheesy flavor, replaced instead with a faint cardboard essence. Gone were the bubbly cheese, and the firm pasta, both.
I tossed the majority of both dishes, vowing that I don’t need to eat either, ever again.
I guess it’s just the process of life and evolution, change and progress. Things come, things go. My fundamental concern at this point is that some of the things that are going are signs of things that should be of concern, as they are the harbingers of change that is the result of distress and duress. A lack and decline in quality of this magnitude, is a sign of a larger problem. More and more, I only want to eat things that I am sure of where they came from, and sure of how they have been handled, and sure of what has been added.
It’s a shorter list every day.
I originally wrote this in September 2010 – it is now November 2012, and the situation has only grown worse.
Case in point, we went out to eat with our young grandchildren a few weeks ago. They both ordered apple juice for their beverage, which was Minute Maid brand and arrived in individual plastic bottles; I’d have preferred glass but what are we to do when this is all there is. At the end of the meal, they both had a considerable amount of juice left, so we put the caps on each bottle, with the intent of taking them with us, when my husband happened to read the label. “Contains apple juice concentrate from the U.S.A., Argentina, Austria, Chile, China, Germany, and Turkey.”
CHINA!!!!???? CHINA!!!!???? CHINA!!!???? Food from China, and I just fed it to my grand kids??!!! Seriously, it was all I could do to keep myself from sticking my fingers down their throats to make them hurl the juice (and subsequently the meal) they’d just consumed.
The next day, when I called Minute Maid, to register my concern and complaint, the lovely women on the phone, I could tell from her tone, didn’t believe me, and I had to convince her I was not a crazy lunatic. Well, you can see that I’m not – the photos are genuine unaltered shots taken at the restaurant.
Needless to say, the list of foods I’ll consider for purchase, is even shorter now.
Clean Food, a term I read in “Maximize Your Quality of Life, The 200% Solution,” a new book by Thomas Matt, is the PERFECT way to describe the kinds of foods we “should” be eating….. I believe, even more than that, we should, as consumers, be DEMANDING Clean Food from the suppliers and manufacturers. For sure I demand food from places other than China!