Fake food

Reading today about the new fake chicken, I am dismayed by how we insist on creating facsimiles of just about everything (especially things that are “bad” for us) so that we don’t have to actually give them up. Now you can have your chicken and eat it, too.

Something seems wrong about that. We already have artificial flavors, colors, sweeteners and other synthesized ingredients in our food, to the point that it is often more difficult, more expensive, less convenient and actually less satisfying (to our thoroughly co-opted taste buds) to eat the real stuff than the fake stuff. Do you recognize the flavor of real cherries, for example? They taste only ever so slightly like the artificial cherry flavor we all know and love. What about watermelon, or cucumber, or peach? And even some real foods don’t taste much like themselves anymore, thanks to relentless engineering to improve their appearance and shelf life. Strawberries and tomatoes come first to mind … both are now enormous, firm, deeply red globes with no blemishes, but also with no juice, no sweetness, and no essential flavor.

I support farmers’ markets, organic food, and the local/slow food movement just for the sake of real food and real flavors. Eat the chicken, or do not eat the chicken. But don’t make something like chicken out of “extruded vegetable proteins” and pretend.

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