I confess I’m uninspired today. Tired, burned out, and hastily trying to cram a post in between other important stuff that should (at least by other people’s standards) be priorities. I’ve been searching aimlessly all day for the one thing that would ignite the spark for writing my Food Revolution Fridays post — not that there’s a shortage of possible material; it’s just that none of the possibilities have yet filled me with a burning desire to write.
It’s a temporary condition, I trust, and I considered just taking the day off. But then I saw a headline proclaiming that today is the 48th anniversary of Julia Child’s television premiere as the French Chef, and I realized: Julia would be outraged at what we’ve done to ourselves as eaters. She’d be first in line for Food Revolution Fridays.
Julia Child, above all else, put people at ease in the kitchen. Her television career was devoted to one thing: convincing Americans that they could cook real food for themselves and their families, fearlessly. Who among us doesn’t have some mental image (even if it’s from a loving “Saturday Night Live” parody) of Julia dropping a chicken and blithely plopping it back onto a serving platter, or accidentally tearing a hole in a piece of delicate pastry and bashing it back together with the delicacy of a stonemason, declaring that “It’s perfectly all right” or “Nobody will know what happened in the kitchen” or some other breezy declaration of unshakable culinary faith?
Julia Child would want us to be cooking, damn it. And back in 1963, when her show first aired, I’m sure she and everyone else thought that with the advent of cooking shows, we as a country would become MORE food literate and MORE inclined to the culinary arts. I suspect that, deep down, Julia hoped she’d be part of the solution to the onset of TV dinners. I doubt very much that she’d have envisioned the mess we’re in now. I can only imagine her disappointment in hearing these numbers:
In Nevada, residents spend $939 per capita on fast food. $939 per capita. That’s about $2.50 per person, per day on fast food — and with the proliferation of “dollar menus” and 99 cent tacos, you could do some serious caloric damage with less than $3 a day.
In Mississippi, the fast food expenditure is much lower; but they’re making up for it in soda. Mississippians buy 82 GALLONS of soda per capita each year. I’m no math whiz, but by my calculations, that comes out to almost a quart of soda per person EVERY SINGLE DAY. What???? Just as a refresher course in basic measurements, a quart is 4 cups. No wonder we’re in such a ridiculous public health crisis.
Yes, I think Julia Child would be beside herself if she saw these statistics, and if she could see the many, many abominations in food and the culture of eating in America in 2011. I think she’d be standing up for Food Revolution Fridays, if not leading parades up and down every Main Street in the country with a bullhorn permanently affixed to her jaws. And maybe, just maybe, if the call to take action against fake food came to us in Julia’s inimitable warble, we’d all sit up a bit straighter and take a little more notice.
So I’m calling to you, friends and readers, and asking you to take action for the next seven days. I may not be as tall as Julia, or as famous, or as talented, or as frankly LOUD. But I know some of you will listen. For the next week, I challenge you to spend $2.50 per day on REAL food and tell me about it here on the blog. Here are the guidelines:
1) $2.50 per day — it doesn’t have to be over and above your usual food spending, but it does need to be allocated purposely towards real food.
2) You can spend it day by day, or you can add it all up — $17.50 for the week — and spend it in one trip to the store. However you want to do it is fine with me; I just want to know what $17.50 worth of real food looks like in your neck of the woods.
3) REAL FOOD only, please. That means things like fruits, vegetables, proteins, and whole grains; it also means nothing with more than five ingredients, nothing where sugar or a sugar euphemism is listed in the first 3 ingredients, and nothing that contains something your third-grader wouldn’t be able to pronounce and identify.
4) Tell me about it in the comments section of the blog, being as specific as you can. I want to know if you got a pound of tomatoes or only one tomato; a week’s worth of bulgur wheat or only a serving.
Come on, people. Let’s see what $2.50 can do, outside of the drive-thru line.