Friday, August 21, 2009

Home-made And Local....Really?

The hundred mile diet has me questioning everything, especially what's in my food and from where it originates. Restaurants and grocery stores must hate me, because I'm like the love child of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Marple when it comes to uncloaking the truth about food. Note: I've chosen to ignore the fact that Miss Marple was an elderly spinster and Holmes always seemed to chum around with Dr.Watson. Hmmm.

I really do question everything. It's not just Sherlock and Miss Marple that have influenced me, there are have been others. I'd like to give credit to those who have shaped my inquisitive and deductive mind. They are, in no particular order: Ben Matlock, Jim Rockford, Frank Cannon, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys (yes, teens can figure out crimes, yet somehow be unable to hang up their clothes), and finally the Scooby Doo detectives (Fred, Velma, Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby Doo). One little known fact is that Scooby had a twin brother named Sea who went on to make his fortune in the personal watercraft industry, while simultaneously giving birth to lakeshore eco-terrorism.

Now that's a questionable piece of investigative reporting, except the part about Sea-Doos being damaging on numerous fronts. You cook up some pretty strange ideas, Mr.Leisurologist.

Yesterday I was driving by a restaurant and the sign said 'home cooked meals'. My brain said 'how can they be home-cooked, if they're made in a restaurant'?

Good point, Ian. I think it's time to call in your team of lawyers and start a lawsuit. Shall I get Perry Mason on line one for you?

This got me thinking, what gives a restaurant the right to call their food home-cooked? I'm 99.44% certain that the restaurant that inspired my witch hunt serves McCain or Cavendish french fries. They certainly aren't fresh cut, which I adore.

Shouldn't you capitalize 'French' fries, Ian?

Actually, I've chosen not to because french fries most likely were invented in Belgium, thus negating the justification for a capital 'f'.

Anyways, back to my witch hunt...what gives a restaurant the right to call their food home-cooked? I can understand how a bed and breakfast can call their food home-cooked, but a restaurant? As far as I'm concerned, unless the owner and head cook snuggle up like spoons and sleep under a dining room table, then it's not home-made. I suppose if a restaurant cooked a roast of beef, instead of using J.M.Schneider's sodium soaked slices, then made hot beef sandwiches...well, then they could say 'home-made'. But what if they used questionable canned (Karl)Heinz gravy and Wonder bread...and Belgian fries that came from Florenceville?

Ditto for home-baked goods. Home-baked as opposed to what? Factory baked? A small bakery is just a miniature still has nothing to do with a home.

Seriously, the word 'home-made' or 'home-baked' is almost meaningless these days...or is it? When I see the word 'home-made', it conjures up images of my own mother's excellent cooking...fresh from the oven food that wasn't shaped like nuggets, dinosaurs or those new-fangled light bulbs (curly fries). The term home-made is nothing but marketing, and it's used because it works, but it's pretty misleading.

Oh well, why should the restaurants be any different from the grocery stores?

True enough. I was in the Superstore recently and noticed some new signs boasting of a move toward increasing the amount of local produce. An article appears in today's issue of Prince Edward Island's Guardian newspaper which discusses Loblaw's initiative. A similar story appeared in Wednesday's National Post, shedding some light, albeit dim, on Loblaw's move to 'local' (thanks for sending me that story, Angie M.).

Loblaw's and I have a very different definition of the word 'local'. It would appear that Loblaw's calls produce local if it can be harvested and brought to market in less than 24 to 48 hours. In theory, a box of strawberries can be harvested in Kelowna (BC) in the morning, air shipped around the country later that day, and appear in my Superstore the following morning. To me, that's not local. My definition of local does not include airplanes. I like the 24 hour idea, but the truth seems lost in the contrails.

It is a promising development, but I would argue that tomatoes grown in Ontario or Okanagan apples are not local, especially if our truly local farmers have tomatoes and apples but can't sell them to the Superstore because of the imported, non-local stuff coming in from the west. I love that Loblaw's is going to include information for the consumer as to what farms grew the produce. An increase in information is helpful to super snoops like me.

The beauty of the internet is the dissemination of information. It's amazing that I can write this blog in my own home, where I routinely eat home-made local food after a night of spooning with the chef, and then click 'publish now' and someone in Kuala Lumpur can read my words within 24 seconds. It's great that the people of Malaysia have access to local, home-made news.

No comments:

Post a Comment