Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Simple Sandwich - Not So Simple

I am looking for something more elusive than good seats at a concert -- I want a local sandwich with turkey or ham on it that has no other ingredients other than that which was produced by the fowl or the pig. This should be simple, but it isn't for me.

Ever since mine eyes were opened about the horrors of our industrial food system, I thought I was getting good unprocessed turkey or ham by shopping at the deli department of local grocery stores. Surely, I thought, if I step up and point to a turkey and tell the nice deli folks how many pounds of it I want and how thick to slice it I am rewarded with the real thing, but, alas, a friend has revealed the truth. The packaging the deli folks peel back to slice off my sandwich staple tells the real story. That oven baked turkey breast actually contains: Turkey Breast, Water, Modified Food Starch, Lactate, Salt, Honey, Corn Syrup Solids (here too!!!! good grief), Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Sodium Diacetate, and it was browned in Oil. As Charlie Brown would say, "ARRRGGGHHHHH!"

Michael Pollan says that if your grandmother would not recognize something as food, don't eat it. My Grandmother never served me any Sodium Diacetate. The folks at Harvard School of Public Health recently confirmed that processed meats are strongly implicated in our spiraling rates of diabetes and heart disease. This study just came out a couple of weeks ago.

So what is an aspiring locavore and dedicated sandwich-for-lunch person supposed to do? Really, I want to know. Other than regularly baking my own ham or filling a crock pot with a turkey breast, is there a way for me to purchase a nicely sliced pound of turkey or ham for my daily bread? When I go to a local restaurant, is the turkey on my hot brown or club sandwich from someone's processed meat inventory? I'm afraid to find out the answer to that, but am eternally hopeful that I will find out that they cooked it and sliced it themselves.

So, I ask you vendors at Bounty of the Barrens Market; I ask you potential local entrepreneurs who might be thinking of opening a real deli, when will I be able to safely go home and make myself a turkey sandwich again? I await your advice with the faint aroma of carrageenan on my breath.

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