Archive for 2014

Episode: 111

Smell This


So when you walk into a warehouse store, or a supermarket, what do you first smell? Does it smell like a place full of food? Like an open air market in Rome or Istanbul or Hanoi, or like a spice store or a salumeria, or a cheese store or a fruit store? Do you smell anything edible? Maybe the rotisserie chickens, but not until you get to the back. Nothing smells like food in our food stores. They smell like A/C and floor buffer wax and freezer case air and a hundred different chemical cleaning products and DVD rental boxes and clearance lawn chairs…but not food.

If the places that are purportedly selling us food, don’t smell like food, then how do we know that we’re buying food? How do we trust our senses, especially our most primal one? Well, we don’t, that’s the Foodiness scam. to trick you into buying processed and packaged, while telling you it’s real and whole and better. Because if the smell is gone, then the possibility of decay and rot and putrefaction is gone. And that’s what our noses are really for, to tell us if our food is ripe and delicious or old and dangerously rotting, or poisonous, or moldy. So if we eliminate the smells, we eliminate obsolescence, and we can live forever in an air-conditioned, sanitized, shiny bright world of dino-nuggets and cotton-candy-oreo-flavored coffee creamers.

So I’d like to do a scientific study where I send people shopping in today’s supermarkets and warehouse stores, blindfolded, and then see how they navigate and shop based solely on smell. I guess it’s how blind people shop, I’ve never really thought about that until right now. They must need someone to go with them to read all the packages and boxes so they don’t accidentally buy the pumpkin-spiced flavored carpet shampoo instead of the pumpkin spiced flavored low-fat cream cheese spread. I wonder if they have service dogs who can read all the labels for them, I mean a dog’s nose is a thousand times more sensitive than our noses, but I doubt that even a bloodhound could sniff out any real food in a Walmart Supercenter.

Then I’d take the blindfolded people to a farmer’s market on a warm August afternoon, and let them wander around smelling the ripe peaches and the bunches of basil and the dirt clinging to the carrots, then to the live animal butcher near me, to smell the chicken blood and the goat poop. Ok, that might be too much for some. But I wonder what would happen? Would people suddenly revert back to their basic human selves? Go mad from the smell of an oozing nectarine and a just-caught flounder on crushed ice? Or would they freak out because the smells were so “unnatural”, as ridiculous as that sounds. Have we gone that far down the Foodiness rabbit hole? I hope not, but every time I set foot into Stop-n-shop or Shop-rite or A&P or a Publix, I have my fears and doubts…

Episode: 110

A is for Apple, J is for Junk.


I was thinking about pears a lot this week, as I was writing my monthly articles for Numi, the Nutrisystem website, and one was all about pears. Yes, I write for Nutrisytem, and yes, they are all about real food and cooking and eating well so no judgy-ness please. Plus they pay me. Unlike some other major, huge websites…

Anyway, remember a few episodes ago, when I was talking about eggplant? And how eggplant seems to have escaped foodiness-ization? I mean, you never see eggplant flavored veggie puffs, or eggplant juicy drinks at Jamba, right? Well it occurred to me that pears are probably the least Foodiness-ized fruit. Does Jamba do any pear drinks? And other than baby food purees, and maybe a squeezy-fruit pouch blend, I can’t really think of any pear Foodiness out there. I’ve never seen pear-pie yogurt, or pear fruity-poofs snacks, or pear-flavored sports drinks or really pear flavored anything. Oh, except juicy-pear flavored #JellyBelly jelly beans, which aren’t Foodiness, they’re just candy, nobody is stupid enough to think there’s any fruit in them, are they? I mean, I LOVE Jelly Bellies, and I love pears, but I hate pear flavored Jelly Bellies. They taste like tannic, unripe Bartlett pears to me. Too green, too vegetal. All wrong. I do however love the pink grapefruit flavor…fyi. But pears seem to have evaded Foodiness-izing, so far. Kellogg’s hasn’t made a pear-flavored cereal yet, like Apple Jacks. Pear jacks? Forget it, nobody’d eat it. Pear and Oat-Nugget Crunch, Chex Juicy Pear Flavor? Honey Bunches of Pear Chips? Pear Bran? So far, we’re safe from that craptastic array. Maybe the pear has special protected status. Like the bald eagle, or the giant sequoia? Protected from all Foodiness forever by the endangered fruit species act of 1977?

Oh, and you know how they say most women are either apple or pear shaped? Like there’s nothing in-between that? Well, I suppose I’m a pear, which is a-ok by me, since I love pears. but back in the Jordache days of elementary school, we pears had few options when it came to jeans. It was so unfair, to be a pear, back then and there…

What does that actually have to do with pears, or food, or radio or anything? Well I can weave almost anything together into a good story, so check out this episode and find out.

Episode: 109

Smells Like Pumpkin Spice Flavored Pumpkin Spice. Again.


Well, it’s nearly October, and you know what that means, right? Yes, halloween is coming, and yes, the leaves are turning beautiful colors, and yes, the days are growing shorter and yes, it’s really just the start of the christmas season…really. But what it actually, really means, is that it’s pumpkin spice season again! Already! And this year, Foodiness inc. and it’s evil cousins junk food inc. have been dipping their magic seasoning wands and fancy flavoring spoons deep into the cauldron of chemically synthesized pumpkin spice and drizzling their autumnal artificiality on just about everything! If you thought last year was the year of pumpkin spice…oh no, my friend, we’ve only just begun…to spice. This year may be the apogee, the apex, the pumpkin spice perigee, the breaking point. We may have hit peak pumpkin…spice that is. We’ll never hit peak pumpkin, because there’s rarely any pumpkin IN pumpkin spice, as we all know. No, what we’ve hit is the peak of Foodiness fakeout pumpkin spice “flavor”. All cloves and cinnamon and molasses flavoring, with a dash of dark orange color, and voila, pumpkin spice! Or pumpkin pie spice flavor…not actually pumpkin. Remember last year, right around this time? I did an episode on this very subject, and I thought I’d exhausted it, slain that dragon, milked that cow. But NO, this year, even more pumpkin spice flavored stuff has rained down upon us like a plague, like the swarm of locusts that wiped out the Ingalls’s wheat crop that one year in Minnesota. Pumpkin spice is upon us and there’s nowhere to run.

I really am starting to feel like Linus, sitting there all alone, in the pumpkin patch, waiting, quietly waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Not the Great Pumpkin Spice Latte, not the Great Pumpkin Spice Oreo, not the Great Pumpkin Spice Non-Fat Sugar-Free Yogurt Parfait (n a squeezy pouch)…just the effing Great Pumpkin.

Why, why? Why can’t we just accept things as they are? Why do we need to sweeten and flavor and falsify and foodiness-ize everything? Were we so traumatized by our winters on the prairie? Our collective diasporic history, fleeing oppression? We need to turn back the clock, return to our roots! Sarah Palin and her crowd have it all wrong, there’s no war on christmas, there’s a war on real. Real pumpkin to be specific. We need to put the pumpkin back in pumpkin spice, forget the Christ in Christmas, it’s too late for that and I couldn’t give a spiced crap about that one anyway. But putting the pumpkin back in pumpkin spice, that’s a campaign I can get fully behind.

So if you’re looking for me this October, I won’t be down here in the foodiness fallout shelter for the next few weeks, I’ll be out in the pumpkin patch. With Linus. Who I always had a little crush on anyway, I like the loner intellectual type…and we’ll definitely put that blanket to good use.

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