Have you ever sent a post out into the blogosphere, absolutely convinced it was going to be Freshly Pressed? And then it wasn’t?
I’ve asked some fantastic bloggers to select the post that had them muttering,”THIS One Should Have Been Freshly Pressed.” A new blogger is featured each week to receive the coveted Freshly Pegged distinction. Participants will be awarded a genuine, simulated “Freshly Pegged” JPEG badge, suitable for posting in a place of honor on their blogs. Or not.
**UPDATE** I feel the need to clarify that Freshly Pegged and Freshly Pressed are not mutually exclusive awards for a blogger. As a matter of fact, most people featured here HAVE been Freshly Pressed at one time or another. If they haven’t been, they will be; they’re just that talented. This award is about a specific post that hasn’t received the attention it so richly deserves. My mission is to right that wrong. I’m fighting injustice like…like… a superhero. Like Robin Hood. Yeah.
Be sure to read all the great Freshly Pegged offerings to date. But before you do, let’s check out…
Jean at Snoring Dog Studio.
Jean blogs about her Boston Terriers. About getting used to life now that her mom has moved in with her. About the environment, politics, work and life in general. And about aliens hanging out in volcanic bars. (I know – who doesn’t blog about that?) Sometimes she’s funny, sometimes she’s serious; always she’s worth the visit.
Because I like Jean so much, it really makes it tough to hate her. But I do. That’s because not only does she draw vivid pictures with words, she paints. Yup. She’s one of those people who can do it all. She is an uber-talented, professional artist and her watercolors are to die for. I’m insanely jealous.
Jean’s probably the only person living who could get me interested in tofu. Read on, and soon you’ll be asking…
Where’s The Tofu? Hiding the Healthy Stuff Will Make Us Fat (Fatter)
Finding tofu in some grocery stores can be more difficult than learning to speak fluent Mandarin in a day.
I shopped for groceries somewhere other than my usual grocery store on Sunday because it was convenient to Home Depot. Choosing that venue helped me combine chores and keep the driving to a minimum.
My short list in hand, I figured I could be out of there in at least a half hour. And that would have held to be true had I not had to conduct a massive sweep of the entire store, including the hardware section, to find tofu. It wasn’t in the likely, or reasonable places.
Thinking semi-logically, I looked in the meat section. Tofu is a meat substitute for many of us trying to cut back or forgo entirely. But could I find tofu in the meat section? No. Almost sixteen square feet of space is given up to bacon, the candy of meats, but not a single shelf devoted to a meager 5 inch by 4 inch by 3 inch chunk of tofu.
Okay, so it’s a vegetable. Well, I checked the vegetable section and it wasn’t there, either. Mangos, ugli fruit, even leeks get real estate, but not tofu. I think the store could have at least provided a shelf for it next to the eggplant. Heck, no one likes eggplant but there it is, sitting in a nice, large, climate controlled, frequently sprinkled section all of its own.
My shopping was done. I wasn’t going to search a minute longer for the stuff. I wasn’t even going to talk about it until a staff person asked me if I found everything I’d looked for. SHE opened the door, mind you. Two other staff persons got involved. Both of them mentioned places where the tofu USED to be. One of them walked me over to the place where the won ton wrappers proudly sat, claiming legitimacy. I had already looked there.
And then the staff person in-the-know said, “It’s in the NUTRITION section.” Yes. I heard her correctly. She might as well have said, “IT’S IN BEIJING.”
The NUTRITION section. The place where food goes to die, the grocery museum. I’ve never had to swallow my pride and walk over to the Nutrition section to fetch my tofu and I wasn’t about to start now. Geez Louise! The nation is in the throes of an obesity epidemic, so grocers make it difficult to find nutritious, low calorie foods? Go ahead and put Brussels sprouts next to the feminine hygiene products, if you’re so fired up to turn us all into blubber bottoms. See if mommy’s little Reginald will be more inclined to eat the sprouts now.
I ranted about it to the staff person who was willing to escort me to the NUTRITION section. (You need an escort. Rarely do shoppers get out of that section alive, and if they do, they are changed forever. They become pasty shadows of their former selves and they whimper a lot.) I then ranted about it to the cashier who asked me if I had found everything I was looking for. She wasn’t the least bit moved. Yes, yes, perhaps it’s time to write an “I am appalled” letter to the manager of the grocery store. Later—I’m writing a blog post now.
Grocery stores are culpable in the plague of obesity facing our nation. Yes, yes, we CHOOSE to eat unhealthy foods. But enough of that. Ever since we crawled out of the caves and stopped wrestling our prey to the ground, we’ve naturally adapted to convenience. We’ve all gone the way of the path of least resistance—those of us who live with electricity and are surrounded by pavement.
So, we, average consumer, trying to do the right thing, walk into a grocery store, full of good intent, and there, before we even get to the spaghetti squash and whole grain bread, a display full of sodium-laden chips greets us with the enthusiasm of a cheerleader on the winning team. But we shoppers are the losers in that game. Displays of junk food we can find, we practically trip over them. Tofu—not so much.
The other day, my brother-in-law (we’ll call him, “Bud” because that’s his name), read a story from Consumer Reports to me. The photo showed a label from a Select Choice soup can, bellowing out “NEW! NEW and IMPROVED!” Turns out, the manufacturer had added back more sodium because during taste tests the OLD! OLD and ORIGINAL! version rated poorly. They added back sodium! One of the four things, besides trans fats, cigarettes, and television scientists know is very, very bad for us. Yet, as Bud said, there on the dining table sits a salt and pepper shaker, which he could use if he chose to. But we weren’t even allowed a choice, or, rather, the choice was taken from us. We’re perfectly capable of demanding and getting our right to free speech, but we’re prevented from having the choice to salt or not salt our foods. It’s all just nutty.
The availability and abundance of lousy food in a grocery store makes it almost impossible for parents to not indulge junior’s whims. I couldn’t find tofu in even one place in the store, yet candy claims at least 4 different residences if you don’t count the cousins hanging out at the check out counters. Moderation, you say? You’re tired, you’re stressed and you just want to get the shopping over. Someone throws you a lifeline made of ice cream bars, another person throws one made of oatmeal. Which one would you choose?
I couldn’t find dried beans at this grocery store, either. Well, I fib. I found two – TWO – bags of beans looking as though they’d been pulled from the sarcophagus of King Tut. And they were in the “Hispanic” section. Dried beans might have been elsewhere in this store, but I guarantee you, if they were, the bags were huddled together on the lowest shelf where no one looks or were blocked by feet and small children’s bodies. And the children were likely busy grabbing boxes of Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese.
I guarantee you, no grocery store would go out of business if the shelves were arranged differently so that healthy foods were conveniently placed and the less-than-healthy ones were made a bit difficult to get to. For example, put a rope climb next to the ice cream case, turn the pastry section into a maze, and put all the to-be-fried foods at the end of a hurdle course.
Well, all right, maybe not. But arranged differently, more attractively, and made more accessible, healthier foods might just be a person’s first choice, or at least a larger part of their choices. Don’t make us hunt for healthy food.
I won’t be shopping at that grocery store ever again. Thank goodness I’ve got a freezer backup of tofu.