June 5, 2016

"Serving Size:" Food and Its Discontents

“Fig Newtons’ serving size? Two cookies. Who the hell eats two cookies? I eat Fig Newtons by the sleeve.”

Right now Brian Regan is my favorite stand-up comic. Endlessly funny and strongly grounded in the truth but with nary a four-letter word or cheap sex or defecation reference to be found. Truly masterful in these days when most stand-ups -- men, women, or unaffiliated freak -- simply shovel the mire of their souls from their side of the footlights to yours where you are expected to laugh at your own degradation.

Here he's taking a swipe at our current cult of food fanaticism. You know, the unquenchable lust to consume ever bizarre items that are fair-traded, organic, sustainable, local, and somehow crafted by artisans. In short stuff in bags where the BS goes on before the food goes in. Looking at some of the latest bags of BS spun into the stores by "marketing" I always wonder, "If it is this flipped out now, how can this BS still be going on ten or twenty years? Surely they can't continue to find new food items on a planet that's been explored for food from the high-mountain meadows to the Mariana Trench."

But of course they can. Absent a long overdue incineration of the planet the marketing droids will be showing up for their jobs day in and day out until the last ding-dong of doom and coming up with fresh BS for the same tired crapola.

I was reminded of this yesterday while making my way through Trader Joes and pausing at the "New Items" shelves. I'm always window-shopping but never stopping to buy at the "New Items" shelves, but I do find them to be an interesting place to track how the secretive, neo-German and almost fascist Trader Joes company is coming in the endless realm of product extension. I was not disappointed.

They were clustered on their own New Items shelf and clad in bright, gleaming, shimmering orange foil packets. They were the "Crispy Jeju Mandarin Orange Slices -- Nothing Added -- 1 oz." Oh frabjuous day!


Picking up the package I knew instantly of the truth of the hot marketing phrase "Nothing Added." At one ounce the package itself felt as if there were nothing in it at all; just puffed foil. Shaking it, however, there was a faint rustle as if the freeze-dried ghost of an orange's shadow was trapped within and whispering to be released.

Intrigued by this shiny package and its come-on blather about the contents within being fashioned from some rare orange grown only on the graves of ancient sacrificed virgins on some desolate island off the coast of Korea, I made a move to put the bag in my cart. But then I saw something that made me freeze:


Yes, $3.29. Three. Dollars. And. Twenty. Nine. Cents. For. One. Ounce. Or, to put it another way, just a hair above $52.00 a pound. For oranges. For oranges without the orange juice. For a slice of citrus dust. Crunch. Poof. Gone.

Yummy, yummy, yummy,
I've got dust in my tummy!

It's highly unlikely that I will be around in 20 years to marvel at whatever ramped-up BS the "marketing" droids come up with to sell new slices of crap to old palates. In a way, that's fortunate. At that point all food will be at $20 a bite, a serving size will be one dried slice, it will take a half an hour to read the FDA warning label, and your personal government overseer will give you an hour's exam to see if you've understood the label before you will be allowed to taste it.

Oh brave new world that has such dried up fruits in it!

Posted by gerardvanderleun at June 5, 2016 7:40 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Too much money at the end of the month.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at June 4, 2013 12:19 PM

That was funny.

Posted by: Leslie at June 4, 2013 1:36 PM

Loved the post. I must say however that my first glance interpreted your post as an endorsement with its pretty pictures and all. Much like an FDA label, I had to read all the way through. And fortunately, I did so before calling my wife to ask her to stop by Trader Joe's for some orange dust.

Posted by: James Stoertz at June 4, 2013 1:41 PM

How to make the most of an orange.
1. Use a peeler to peel strips of the orange skin, ignoring the pith.
2. Peel all the pith off and eat the orange.
3. Boil the strips of orange skin in a simple sugar syrup until the syrup reaches the soft stage.
4. Remove strips of orange skin from the simple syrup and let them drain on a cake rack on a cookie sheet. Let them cool completely and roll them in sugar.
5. Candy. Enjoy.

Posted by: Jewel at June 4, 2013 3:34 PM

Regan is great. His ""I Walked On The Moon" skit is the best.

Just bought this, to stay within the subject at hand.

The Food Police: A Well-Fed Manifesto About the Politics of Your Plate

Posted by: Tman at June 5, 2013 10:33 PM

The same people market politicians...that should give you a good idea of the quality of contents. And they are organic and gluten free.

Posted by: indyjonesouthere at June 5, 2016 11:02 AM

Thanks for the recommendation. As usually happens, one video leads to the next, and I enjoyed a number of his (and I'll need to find more as he IS very, very funny). I am still laughing over the air travel one and the 'end of the plane' dining options. When I'm next handed the packet of peanuts and/or pretzels, I'll be grateful that my allotment is not the frozen fish head with eyes, turnip and a spork. I have taken a sabbatical from Trader Joe's but shop often at their down-market Aldi which has its own set of interesting things.....but not orange dust.

Posted by: Dinah at June 5, 2016 1:41 PM

Meanwhile, in the fruit section of my local Meijer super duper market today, they had 1 oz. bags of dried strawberries and other "regular-type" fruits. I don't recall the price, but it was too much to be paying for a little bit more than nothing.

Posted by: Harry at June 5, 2016 2:31 PM