Eating vs. dining
The food industry has been made out to be the bad guy as of late, with manufacturers and restaurants accused of giving Americans sugary, fatty, salty and generally unhealthy food. We’ve had proposed legislation that would ban restaurants from using salt and proposed taxes on cans of soda. We’re not far away from needing a three-day waiting period to buy a Krispy Kreme.
These attempts to legislate health, misguided though they may be, are just one part of an increased focus on our food supply. Activist groups are quick to paint the entire meat industry as a dangerous profit-driven business with no regard to animal or consumer welfare. Numerous bloggers, public officials and print columnists are advocating a meat-free or reduced-meat lifestyle.
So that’s all there is to it, right? Food companies just have to make only healthy, soy-based food from now on, because that’s what people want now.
If that’s true, though, please explain to me the existence of the Bacon Explosion, a product that laughs in the face of health legislation and vegetarians alike. Picture a 4-pound burrito made of sausage and bacon, only the tortilla is a woven bacon mat. Go to www.bbqaddicts.com and look at the pictures, because words can’t do it justice. I had two friends on Facebook link to this monstrosity, and the comments were filled with people who were slightly scared of it but wanted to try it anyway.
I do believe that Americans are looking to eat healthier, be it with healthier foods or smaller portions. I also believe, though, that many Americans still want to dine when they can, and there is a difference in eating and dining. Eating gives the body enough nutrients to make it through the day. Dining does the same, but it’s a pleasurable, sensory experience, where you take the time to appreciate the food. You eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; you dine on a juicy steak or a plate of fettuccine alfredo with grilled chicken - or a slice of Bacon Explosion.
When I’m dining, I want to taste the flavors, be it salty or sweet. I want to enjoy the richness and the savory flavors, even if it means I have to watch my diet for the next couple days to compensate. I can’t dine on a carrot stick or a lump of soy shaped like a burger patty that tastes only slightly better than the box in which it came.
By all means processors, do what you can to improve the nutritionals of your food or develop smaller portions. In most markets, there’s a demand for it. However, don’t forget that there are still many people out there who appreciate a gourmet sausage or a perfectly aged chop. If a guilt-free dining experience isn’t a Constitutional right, it should be.