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Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Culinary heartland, well, heart-of-darkness land

I am so beat, having just returned just a bit ago from a trip to Indiana. What fun! Yes, my glamorous job took me there, to a tiny speck of a town in the middle of the Indiana cornfields.

I had to leave San Francisco at an ungodly hour in the morning--9am on a Sunday is ungodly in my book—then had to change into a tiny plane that seemed made of tin from Chicago out to Fort Wayne, Indiana, then another 45 minutes drive out to Kendallville. Glamorous job, eh?

A couple of weeks ago, I had successfully rid my diet completely of High Fructose Corn Syrup and Hydrogenated Oil. I really think that if there were such a thing as evil food, those two ingredients would definitely qualify. Corn production in the US has been so highly subsidized that corn syrup became a cheaper alternative to sugar, hence it is used in place of sugar in practically everything here.

For me, getting rid of those two ingredients was amazingly easy, as my normal diet was already pretty much free of them, save a can of coke or two a month or an occasional trip down memory lane with a Mars Bar or a Kitkat. I don't eat a lot of processed food, and the little I do I buy only from natural/organic brands. The only thing that I would miss is Nutella, that's it.

Well, needless to say, my “clean” diet was destroyed completely these last two days. By the time I arrived in Kendallville, there was absolutely nothing open but fastfood. So, I ended up with a chicken sandwich from Wendy's lest I starved to death, a bottle of water wasn't available so I had a medium Sprite laced with, you guessed it, corn syrup. And who knows what horrific ingredients were in that sandwich!!

I am really not surprised at all that so much of Middle America is overweighed , as most food available to them are highly processed and laced with these evil corn syrup and hydrogenated oil. I ordered a salad for lunch, and was served a bowl of nutrition-less iceberg lettuce with a few specks of carrots, and a super sweet and gummy honey mustard "vinaigrette". And that salad was one of the most innocuous items on the menu! With choices like these, what chance do these people have?

My Dutch friend and colleague, Anke, and I were at a Pancake house-type restaurant for breakfast, the two of us combined weighed less than anybody else in the entire place. It would have been so funny had it not been so tragic, really.

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