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Kids These Days…

July 16, 2010

By no means am I here to preach. Despite the fact that I drag myself out of bed every morning, usually before the sun rises, to workout to the point of exhaustion, I am an extremely lazy individual. My sister will especially attest to that. But by the same token, I do believe we must draw the line when it comes to acts of convenience.

I understand the novelty of frozen and canned meals, really, I do. People are busy, days are short (even for me, and my schedule is definitely not bursting at the seams), and they’ve come such a long way now that a few of them actually taste pretty decent. Lately, I am guilty of being addicted to an old favorite in my house, something we call “Tuna Medley” which basically consists of warming up cream of mushroom with peas and tuna. (Don’t knock it till you try it). I also indulge in microwave popcorn slathered with melted margarine on a regular basis (I’ll leave my quirky food combos to another post). But I feel like these companies are starting to take things a little too far, coming a little too long of a way…

Recently I saw a commercial for microwave-able, individual portions of rice. Even for a lazy person like me, I thought that was a pretty lazy idea. Seriously, rice? You boil water and you put the rice in. I know the idea of packaged rice isn’t exactly new, but for some reason seeing that really got under my skin. 

Living in a multicultural city has so many benefits: specialty grocers allow us to pick up rare ingredients to experiment on the stove and recreate international fare in our own kitchen, or for those less daring, a culturally diverse dining culture can take us on an authentic culinary trip all over the world (check out my post on Spotlight Toronto here about the 1000 Tastes of Toronto). But now everything is becoming too simple–big box grocers are starting to make cashew chicken, tikka masala and biryani all too easy. Where’s the fun in that, seriously? And shame on you if you think you’re getting an authentic experience. They are fun to try, and great for an easy weeknight dish, but my fear is the risk of a sort of world-domination.  Pretty soon household ovens, BBQs, stoves, grills are going to become completely obsolete…taken over my monster sized microwaves, save for restaurant kitchens whose owners and workers believe this type of ‘cooking’ to be blasphemous. (Rightly so)

**NOTE: I love love love President’s Choice. The cashiers at the Fortino’s by my house have, more than once, made comments along the lines of “oh you were here yesterday/this morning/an hour ago, weren’t you?” I use alot of the PC products, but rarely do I buy the frozen meals when I’m craving an international dish that I lack the skill to cook myself. I am not knocking them, I just truly believe we need to step outside the grocery store into the outdoors to do our shopping…**

I was a bit disappointed. I thought that eating clean was becoming more and more popular. I am proud to say that as a 23 year-old, fresh out of university, I never eat any type of campus Mac and Cheese food, always preferring the idea of a fresh cooked pot of pasta or even the simple salads which constitute my diet most days. (This is probably the reason why I lasted only 3 short weeks living on campus before returning home) My appreciation for this only grew stronger after spending a summer in Italy, eating basically no processed or pre-packaged food, and experiencing none of the stomach and digestive problems I am usually plagued with at home. (I’m not about to open the can of worms that is the issue of health effects of packaged foods…I don’t know enough background info) But when this commercial aired multiple times on that same evening, along with one for pre-peeled and mashed potatoes (which my mom, Potato Princess, almost cried at the mere sight of), I realized these companies must be profiting enough to allowing their ads to air with such frequent rotation.

There is hope, though. Last night I went out to my first Spotlight Toronto/Twitter Ontario Riesling Tasting event. It was refreshing to see a large young group so interested in food–real food, whether its being consumed for pleasure or health. And on top of it all, the event featured local wine…something that boasts qualities which should make all Ontario-ians (er, awkard word) proud, something I wish I knew more about. But as a follower of many of these young foodies on Twitter, I know that local alcohol is not their only passion, but many of them almost only consume local food products and trips to farmer’s markets are weekend rituals (I overheard people making plans to meet, I’ve read about their encounters on their blogs) Farmer’s markets are growing in popularity I feel, either that or before I was just left in the dark. Although Weston Rd has been home to a couple of them every summer for years now, a market now sets up shop every Saturday morning in Market Lane here in Woodbridge. It almost comes off to me as a weekly ‘event’, a social gathering of sorts–maybe it will open a wider range of people’s eyes to the glory of our provinces’ products. I will make my first trip this Saturday and report my findings.

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