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Omnivore Food Blog By Suzanne Podhaizer


December 03, 2007

Food in the Movie Theater

It's not the point of this particular post, but I have some unusually strong feelings about the consumption of food in movie theaters. For example, I think that  whomever chose crisp popcorn in crinkly paper bags and candies packaged in cellophane as appropriate for consumption during heady dramas should inhabit a special place in Hades. There he should remain, encircled by Furies who nosh on loud, crunchy foods without sharing, for eternity. 

What would be better? Chocolate truffles or fudge served on quiet little plates, or maybe some Vermont cheddar cheese and baguette slices? Anything soft and chewy. I wonder how the candy/popcorn paradigm came about.

But like I said, that's not what this post, which is only tangentially food related, is about. Last night, D. and I went to see No Country for Old Men at the Roxy in Burlington. The Sunday-night audience was mostly made up of the 30-60 set. A quiet bunch; no teenagers to be seen.

When the movie ended, we stayed for the credits and everybody else streamed out of the theater. Eventually the lights came up and a youngish employee entered pulling a large trash can behind him. And it's a good thing he did, 'cause there was a big old mess for him to deal with: crumpled popcorn bags, empty water bottles, candy boxes and random bits of non-theater-related trash. Some was tucked into the cupholders between the seats, much was on the floor.

How is it that over and over each day, bunches of adults collectively decide that leaving their trash lying around a movie theater for someone else to pick up is acceptable? This particular crowd probably wouldn't drop their detritus on Church Street, nor would they do so in a restaurant. What makes a movie theater different?

In my mind, nothing. Movie theater employees deserve as much respect as anybody else. It barely takes any effort to collect ones own soda bottles and wrapped up bits of leftover chewing gum, so why don't people do it? This is beyond my comprehension.

November 16, 2007

Baffled by PETA

A post on the Serious Eats blog pointed me towards PETA's list of regular grocery store items that just so happen -- through no intention on the part of the companies that produced them -- to be vegan.

Here are a few items that made the list: Corn Pops, Unfrosted Strawberry Pop-Tarts, Reese's Puffs, Kool-Aid, Cracker Jack, Barbecue Fritos, Krispy-Kreme Fruit Pies, Chocolate Creme Oreos, Swedish Fish, Campbell's Franco-American Mushroom Gravy, McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning (oh, so useful for those who don't eat chicken), French's Beef Stew Mix (wtf? ),  Smucker's Goober Grape Peanut Butter,  Smart Squeeze Fat Free Margarine.

I've never seen a less compelling argument for veganism. I'm not vegan, but I can do much better. How about spicy black bean soup with fresh-baked rolls and a spinach salad?

Do the folks at PETA not realize that many of these products are made with genetically modified soy and corn; that the pesticides sprayed on conventional crops kill innocent insects and are likely dangerous to birds and probably humans; and that growing, processing and shipping these products damages the environment?

How about the fact that as delightful as sugary cereals and meat-free-gravy-in-a-can might taste, they are filled with unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup and weird food additives, and replace healthier foods in people's diets? And there's this: Building the supermarkets that sell 'em, their parking lots, and the roads that get people there destroyed wildlife habitat forever. How good does that Airheads Taffy taste now, huh?

If you truly love animals and you want to be a (healthy) vegan, stay away from this highly-processed crap and eat fresh, minimally-processed products and whole foods. If you love animals but aren't a vegetarian, eat them thoughtfully and thankfully (and only those that are ethically raised and local, if you can afford to). And no matter what kind of diet you choose, do your damndest to protect the environment.

August 01, 2007

Barbecue Free For All!

I'm not posting a story chat for my Get A 'Cue article, 'cause there's not much to talk about. But, I thought it would be great to give people a place to talk about barbecue in general.

Love or hate the local barbecue joints? Got a recipe you want to share? Have strong opinions about vinegar vs. tomato? Feel free to share.

I'm off to meet the cheesemakers at the American Cheese Society conference!

May 16, 2007

Pesky Pesticides

I interrupt my food stamp diet posts to present: The Evil of Pesticides. Yep, those chemicals that are sprayed all over our foodstuffs, but which the government holds to be safe for human consumption.

This morning, I came across an article called, "Pesticides May be Making Kids Sick at School." One of the first paragraphs explains, " Associated Press investigation has found that over the past decade, hundreds, possibly thousands, of schoolchildren in California and other agricultural states have been exposed to farm chemicals linked to sickness, brain damage and birth defects."

Many of these cases are caused by pesticide drift. The chemicals are sprayed on farmer's fields and the wind catches the residue, bringing it along for a ride. I would imagine that farm workers (many of whom, in California anyway, may not speak English and may not have adequate medical care), are also affected. 

I understand that U.S. agriculture is currently dependent on pesticides, but there are so many problems with their use that I get all riled up when I think about 'em. Just a few of the myriad concerns: potential, undiscovered health risks, farmer and citizen safety, preservation of pollinating insects in a country where bees are dying for unknown reasons, the health and safety of birds and other animals, etc.

Here's more from the article:  "Research on pregnant women exposed to common pesticides has suggested higher rates of premature birth, and poor neurological development and smaller head circumferences among their babies."

And even more: After a sixth grader collapsed at school, her problems were dismissed as dehydration. But then it happened again. "Investigators found her clothes were soaked in the pesticide Endosulfan I; it had been picked up from residue on the grass and absorbed into her bloodstream through her skin. Officials later found five other pesticides on school grounds..."

Even if, as we're told, the pesticide residue on our fruits and vegetables isn't harmful at all, that doesn't mean the manufacture or use of the products is benign. It's just another reason that opting for non-sprayed produce, whether certified organic or not, is a political act.

I'm going to stop before my head explodes. Oh wait, one more thing...experts also think that pesticides (and herbicides) may be one cause of Parkinson's disease.

April 25, 2007

My Tirade Policy

So, I think it's time to elucidate my policy on whining and complaining. It's actually pretty simple...

I won't complain about a restaurant or food-related establishment unless 1) whatever went wrong is so egregious that I just can't help myself OR 2) I've brought my beef to the management and was unable to reach a resolution/was ignored/insulted/etc.

An example of something in the first category would be a finger in my chili or cockroaches swarming over my shoes as I eat.

However, if I discover a grimy spoon, point it out to a server, and they quickly replace it, I'm not going to bitch about their establishment publicly. Everybody makes mistakes.

If I point it out the dirty spoon and they tell me it's clean and I'm an idiot, you'll be hearin' about it -- that's a category 2 offense.

Make sense?

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