Nobody Likes Me, Everybody Hates Me…

…I guess I’ll go eat worms.

Or, at least, that’s what the author of this article from The Huffington Post would suggest.

In the vast world of environmentalism, hybrid cars and bicycle lanes are to transportation what bugs and roadkill are to food — the great answers to the problem of finding sustainable energy for moving our bodies.

I remain unconvinced.

Let’s take, for example, a few choice morsels from the article, entitled “Who Needs Meat When You’ve Got Bugs?“, and dissect them if you will:

The Feral Forager, a self-published ‘zine excerpted in Sandor Katz’s The Revolution Will Not Be Microwaved, rebrands pill bugs as “land shrimp”; grasshoppers are “surprisingly tasty and filling” and taste “something like popcorn”; crickets, “incredibly high in calcium and potassium.” Roasted grubs make a fat-filled protein snack that, again, tastes “a lot like popcorn.”

I’ve always thought that lobster and shrimp look exactly like insects — namely, cockroaches — anyway.  We’re already halfway there with our love of crustaceans.  Would any of this really be that different?

I mean, we already eat and love mollusks, as it is, and those are creatures whose entire source of food comes from filtering sea water.  Or, as Wikipedia so poetically describes it, they “…draw water in over their gills through the beating of cilia. Suspended food plankton and particles are trapped in the mucus of a gill, and from there are transported to the mouth, where they are eaten, digested and expelled as feces or pseudofeces.” Lovely thought.

Then, however, there is this:

As the Feral Forger notes, “picking up roadkill is a good way to get fresh, wild, totally free-range and organic meat for absolutely free.”

Really?  Free-range and organic?  I beg to differ.  Let’s count the number of things that I saw dead and flattened on the side of the road this weekend during my trip to DFW and back:

  1. Armadillos
  2. Skunks
  3. Possums
  4. Raccoons
  5. Squirrels
  6. Various breeds of dog
  7. Coyotes
  8. Unrecognizable carcasses of indeterminate origin

And now let’s count the number of things on that list that normal people (including your adventurous blogger herself) would eat:

  1. None of the above

I mean, okay…  Those skunks and raccoons and possums are wild as all get out, but I don’t know about “free-range” or “organic” (I mean, the damned things subsist on grass and old Twinkies and cigarette butts, for God’s sake) and I sure as hell wouldn’t classify those remains as “fresh,” even on the side of I-45 on a crisp February day.

Moving on to the final argument:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and similar regulatory agencies elsewhere all permit a surprising number of “insect parts” in a given weight of packaged food because it is impossible to remove all of the insects during processing, especially in plants.

Ah.  The old “You’re Already Eating It, Whether You Know It Or Not, So You Might As Well Just Keep Going” argument.  It’s a winner almost every time.

The Huffington Post has spoken: give up now, people.  A generation from now, your children and grandchildren will be enjoying tasty Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies and Mealworm Fried Rice, laughing at your “old-fashioned” resistance to the charms of grasshoppers and grubs.

*shudder*

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Google Fever

It’s been nearly a week since I posted anything.  A week!  What’s come over me, your daily (and sometimes twice- or thrice-daily) poster?  Work, people.  Work.  Like, real Day Job work.  I’m sorry; I don’t like it any more than you do.

Because I’ve been so busy with Day Job stuff, I haven’t even been cooking proper dinners when I finally get home at night.  My husband has been subsisting off old meatballs and beer-cheddar flavored Kettle Chips left over from our Superbowl party.  He’s not complaining, strangely, and I think he’s actually enjoying this whole week of junk food and random, assorted beers from the cooler in the back yard.  He’ll change his tune when all of that starts to catch up with his waistline, though…

Anyway, since I haven’t been cooking and have been doing really boring things instead, like CMS data match spreadsheets and TPS reports, I don’t have anything decently food-related to post today.  But I won’t let that stop me from posting something.

One of my favorite things to do is take a peek at the awesome page in the admin section of WordPress that allows you to see what search terms have led people to your page.  The vast majority of search terms leading people to she eats. are fairly average things like “spaghetti bolognese recipe” and “Landry’s goes private” and “J Alexanders review” and things along those lines.

But every once in a while, you get some good ones:

1.  my coworker stilling my lunch — Not once, not twice, but five times over the course of two days.  Someone (and I’m guessing it’s the same someone each time, by the creative spelling of the word “stealing”) is awfully concerned about office breakroom thievery.  Either that, or he’s desperately seeking out ways to convince his coworker to help him create moonshine out of his bologna sandwich and potato chips.

2.  licorice / bacteriology — The jury is still out on this one.  While I can’t fathom a possible connection between licorice and the study of bacteria, perhaps some intrepid bacteriologist out there has figured out that licorice has certain anti-microbial qualities and will soon come out with a successful line of Anti-Bacterial Twizzlers.

3.  nutritional information waffle house grits — The only answer to this is: BAD.  If Waffle House served your grits along with a tiny card giving you the nutritional content of their grits, all it would say is: BAD.  SERIOUSLY, THESE THINGS ARE REALLY BAD FOR YOU.  WE PROBABLY USE PURE BACON GREASE AND TWENTY POUNDS OF BUTTER PER BATCH.  ENJOY.

4.  bart inside clam — I still fail to see how this search term led anyone to my page, much less two separate visitors.  I’m fairly sure they didn’t find what they were looking for.  And now that I’ve actually included the entire phrase in a blog post, I’m sure to confuse even more future visitors to this blog.  In an effort to appease these visitors, I have posted a picture of what is — to me — the most unappealing and disgusting food item I’ve ever personally encountered, the geoduck clam:

geoduck.jpg

5.  bacon licorice — Chalk another one up for licorice, my least favorite candy ever.  Someone out there must like it, though.  And they like it enough to attempt to pair it with bacon, in an effort to produce some unholy licorice-bacon hybrid creature.  When that day comes, I quit.

6.  unhealthy food in houston — All around you, baby.  This shouldn’t be that hard.

7.  cartography of love — You want a map of my heart?  That’s sweet.  Seriously, though?  You’re in the wrong place.

8.  paint for white electric stove — I’m imagining the end result of this quest is going to be a fireball and a giant crater where someone’s mobile home used to be.  Yes, let’s paint a stove!  Let’s get that highly flammable paint up close and cozy with a mechanism purely designed for producing extremely high and prolonged temperatures!  The Darwin Awards are calling…

And my personal favorite:

9.  can you eat every part of a pig? — Yes.  Yes, you can, as this diagram helpfully illustrates:

pigbutcheringguide.jpg

I eagerly await next week’s batch of search terms.

Avoiding The Sweet, Creamy Center

Just as I was railing against Wal-Mart yesterday, here comes an article from Wired that details — with fantastic graphics — how the center aisles of your grocery store are “ground zero” of the obesity epidemic in America.

Want to find something healthy in the grocery store? Stick to the periphery: Most chain supermarkets arrange produce, dairy, and meat along the perimeter of the store, leaving the more processed foods and impulse buys in the middle. That’s where you’ll find foods with the highest “energy density,” or calories by weight, which makes those aisles ground zero of the obesity epidemic.

The first graphic can be somewhat misleading, as it seems to demonstrate that the most expensive items are located in the produce section.  But this isn’t true.  The most expensive items per calorie are located in the produce section.  This means that you’d need to spend $20.00 in the produce section to get an item of food with 100 calories in it, whereas you’d only have to spend $2.00 in the snack food section for your same wallop of calories.

st_infoporn1_w.jpg
I know it’s too small to read.  So go to the article to see it full-sized.

But are those snack food calories the same calories that you’d purchase in the produce section?  No; of course not.  And more importantly, you don’t have to spend $20.00 on produce to get quadruple the nutrition that you’d get from a lousy $2.00 bag of Bugles.

More succintly put, you’re going to get way more bang for your buck if you purchase $10 in food from your produce section than if you spent the same $10 in the snack food aisle.  Not just more food, volume-wise, but more nutritional content as well.

The remainder of the article is quite short, but the infographics speak for themselves.  It’s a good read, so check the rest out here.

What Doesn’t Kill You…

This makes me kind of sad.

Inspired by Alison Cook’s recent article on the Houston Department of Health and Human Services’ new online health inspection reports site, I set about researching some of my favorite restaurants.  Inevitably, the restaurant that I just raved about yesterday was also temporarily closed due to health code violations last year:

brenda-violation.gif

Call it living dangerously if you will, but this isn’t going to keep me from going to Brenda’s.  I figure that if their numerous health code violations haven’t killed or hospitalized me by now, I have no reason to stop eating their delicious, delicious food.

So which is it, guys and gals:  Have I built up an immunity to/tolerance of dangerous bacteria from my years of eating at questionable holes-in-the-wall?  Or am I tempting fate with my callous disregard of health code violations and will ultimately be doomed to contract salmonella from an innocent-looking taco and die a painful death as a result of my hubris?

I’m hoping for immunity, obviously.

Save Money, Live Better? Doubtful.

As if we needed any, here’s additional proof that some Houstonians don’t have an ounce of sense when it comes to grocery shopping:

New No. 1: Wal-Mart bags top grocery spot

Wal-Mart Supercenters have overtaken Kroger as grocery market-share leader for the Houston area.

That’s according to the most recent market survey published in the January 2008 issue of the Shelby Report, a national trade publication covering the grocery industry.

According to the report, Wal-Mart Supercenter has a 28.5 percent market share, compared to Kroger’s 25.6 percent. Wal-Mart Supercenter’s market share is up 0.88 percent from the previous quarter, compared with Kroger’s decline of 2.10 percent. Third place H-E-B is up 0.26 percent.

Personally, I wouldn’t buy my groceries from Wal-Mart if they were the only store in town. Leaving aside for a second their highly-questionable business practices and the fact that they also sell motor oil and paint thinner under the same roof with their groceries, let’s talk about the quality of their produce and meats.

Quality. As in, it’s non-existent.

Have you ever seen a decent piece of produce at Wal-Mart? I haven’t. Maybe I’m just going to the wrong Wal-Marts, but every single onion, potato, head of lettuce, apple, bag of carrots, orange, etc. looks decidedly unfresh. They look either wilted or dented or bruised or past their prime. And this doesn’t surprise me. After all, when you’re dealing in bulk and when you’re also shipping boxes of sweatpants and lawnmower parts into the same store, freshness and quality probably aren’t going to be your main concerns.

And the meat? I shudder to think about the subpar, low cost facilities from which that meat originates. Certain scenes from Fast Food Nation come immediately to mind. The fish all looks and tastes farmed.  It’s not the kind of meat or fish that I want to eat, and it’s certainly not what I’d feed to my friends and family.

I know the old argument: It’s so cheap to shop at Wal-Mart!  Bullshit.  When you go to Wal-Mart, you aren’t just going to a grocery store, and they know this!

You’re going to a glorified flea market, where you feel like your dollar will go further just because that porcelain angel or candle holder shaped like a cat is marked down to $0.99.  So you fill up your basket not just with food, but with all sorts of other things that you don’t need.  And all those $5.00 picture frames and $12.99 DVDs along with your bags of Cheetos and 12-packs of Big Red quickly add up to a $100 tab at the register.  How is that saving money?

It’s NOT cheap to shop at Wal-Mart.  They just make you think that it is by artificially lowering their prices so that you’ll buy more crap.

By comparison, let’s look at a normal grocery store.  Let’s look at H-E-B. Continue reading Save Money, Live Better? Doubtful.

Bananarama

From the sick minds who brought you “The Life And Death Of Ice Cream” (see last week’s post: Your Moment Of Zen), the folks at MindPie have also created a meditation on the life cycle of bananas:

The video gets fairly dull towards the 0:40 mark, but it’s still fascinating to watch the bananas slowly droop — sad and abandoned — before finally blossoming with dark spots in only a matter of seconds.

At least the music is slightly less insidious this time.

And since it wouldn’t be YouTube without a snappy comeback, here is a video response to “The Life And Death Of Ice Cream” entitled “The Life And Death Of A Tomato”:

*shudder*

Care Package

From the files of my weird and hilarious friends…

My friend Jessica recently moved out to California, oh so far away from any of her friends and family.  So she was excited to receive a giant care package in the mail from our friend Julia, who’s always been the maternal one of the group.  Jessica tore excitedly into the enormous box, eager to see the baked goods and socks that she was certain Julia had lovingly placed inside (…yes, socks…it’s a thing we do).

Instead, she was startled to find herself staring into a caverous box of kettle corn.  There was Ziploc freezer bag upon Ziploc freezer bag of kettle corn, layered one on top of another.  There were a dozen gallon-sized bags of it in all.

Jessica thought that surely the kettle corn was a a clever and edible form of packing peanuts for something much more valuable, but alas — kettle corn was the sole occupant of the box.

That is except for the four, empty sandwich-sized Ziploc bags that Jessica found as she was stowing the giant bags of kettle corn in the cupboard.  Each tiny bag had been marked “To Go” in Julia’s familiar handwriting.  Jessica finally called Julia to figure out her intentions with the kettle corn.

Julia: “I just made a LOT of kettle corn the other day and figured you might want some.”

Jessica:  “A whole, microwave oven box full of kettle corn?”

Julia (impatiently):  “I gave you To Go bags!”

Got a kid in college?  Friend overseas?  I highly suggest this as a care package.  It’s cheap to make AND send.  And who doesn’t like To Go bags of kettle corn?