Back in the eighties, INXS was a pretty cool band, right in the middle of the MTV explosion; they were right on target, maybe too much so: “Don’t change for you, don’t change a thing for me…” This band’s moniker, looking back, seems to identify the theme of the present also. Maybe the timing of their success can be looked at as a turning point, or maybe a tipping point in the success of the conscious-less profits of over portioning.
Everything in excess. What happened to moderation? When did enough stop being enough?
I plan and execute meals for a living, and have done so for over 30 years. Here, “bigger is better” happened right after a French “Nouvelle Cuisine” gave way to “Haute Cuisine.”
Americanized of course. Heartier fare, or “comfort food,” seemed to also mean giant portions. Super size it. Perceived value appears to overshadow the fact that all this food at a sitting is an unhealthy and unsustainable practice in the way of weight and health management.
We recently had customers ask about the size of the bagels. The questions referred to a single ounce reduction in the size of the bagel; a temporary substitution forced by an underproduction from our usual bakery supplier. That 1 oz. reduction actually is a 2 oz. gain in size comparing bagel sizes from the height of my example band’s success to the times of the day. Bagels are now twice the size, doubling their calorie count, not to mention the obligatory, almost equal, cream cheese addition. One part bagel, one part cream cheese, mmm, yummy.
This bagel anecdote is merely an example of the twisted thinking that became a reality so pervasive it escapes almost none in our culture. Bigger IS better. Customers slighted by the perceived lessening of value for the bagel purchase outlines my basic perception that views today’s eating habits as fundamentally out of priority.
For my money, half the portion of the desired meal, with double the positives would be the best value. Let me outline a simple example:
If I were to feed my family a Sunday dinner consisting of chicken potpie, with a beverage and dessert, my goal would be reduce the portion proportionately enough to afford organic, locally produced ingredients to execute the meal. Same price, more positives.
Maine farmers produce wonderful whole-wheat flours and butter for the crust. A local farm produces organically, sustainable and humanely raised chickens. Seasonal, locally produced organic vegetables fill out the entrée and also afford the local small farmer their own piece of the pie. With enough sales of their toil, they can afford to pay their bills, raise their children properly and pass along their irreplaceable and essential trade skills to the next generation.
We can all produce very simple ingredients to fulfill the beverage part of the meal.
How about go outside and pick a couple cukes, a bunch of mint, then squeeze a lime into a bit of tap water with a controllable bit of sweetener. Throw it into a blender, strain and pour over ice with a splash of salt-free seltzer for a natural, delicious homemade summer soda.
Dessert could be local shortcake: fresh Maine strawberries over mini buckwheat pancakes with whipped, local, farm-fresh cream. Every meal can be conceived with the same practices. I love food. I love my family. I love farmers. Add it up and you sum up priority. Easy math.
Bigger gatherings at mealtime are better. Bigger laughter is better. Bigger gardens are better. Bigger portions of questionably nutritious foods with undoubtedly bigger calorie counts are not better. We need to live in moderation, not INXS. There does need to be a change.
I still really like that song though…