Dear Dr. Hill, just a note to let you know that the sodas in my cart were not for me.

Please don’t judge me by the contents of my shopping cart. In a town of this size, with my foody reputation at stake, I worry about being seen with some inorganic, white bread, prepackaged, corn syrup -infused product. With my best friends carrying around Michael Pollan’s Food Rules like a bible in their pocketbooks, I don’t dare risk being caught with anything but the slowest of foods. So it was with great dismay that today, after purchasing 6 entire liters of soda, I felt a gentle touch on my arm, and there was my children’s pediatrician saying, “Hi there. Nice to see you.” I smiled and murmured something back (knowing of course, that he doesn’t even know my name — just that I’m MaxMollyJoe’s mom), but all the while wondering, “Did Dr. Hill see the soda in the bags in my cart? Will he blame their asthma on the Diet Sprite? Thank goodness they have healthy BMIs!”

Last year my friend AJ asked me to pick up some brownie mix for her at our neighborhood IGA grocery. No big deal for most people, but I was mortified at the idea of having to purchase such a product. Have you ever read the list of ingredients? Do you know how silly-easy it is to make them from scratch?!  My son Max was with me and I said to him, “Max, what if one of my friends sees me buying brownie mix? I’m known for my brownies!” He said, “Mom, I’ll go down the brownie mix aisle myself and get the box.” I seem to recall that he even offered to stand in a different check-out aisle and pay for it himself. He was willing to take the fall for me. My son is a mensch.

I loath soda, and brownie or pancake mixes, and prepared salad dressings. Anything “light” or diet are even worse. Take a good read at any of these packages and you can’t help but realize that you’re in for a tasty meal of additives. Not to mention that it takes about as much time to whip up something from scratch as it does to make it from a mix. There are a few mixes that I will occasionally purchase, if they have real ingredients, with names that I recognize and would use myself.

I recommend the books Fast Food Nation, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. My husband bought me Fast Food Nation as a gift about 10 years ago. Since reading it cover-to-cover, all in that day, we no longer take our kids to McDonalds. In fact 2 out of 3 of them will refuse to go.

So, Dr. Hill, just a note to let you know that the sodas in my cart were for an event at our temple tonight. The other ladies like the idea of serving a punch and they had me pick up the ingredients. I didn’t taste a drop, nor did my children. I swear.

6 thoughts on “Dear Dr. Hill, just a note to let you know that the sodas in my cart were not for me.

  1. Oh yes, I know exactly what you are talking about, and yet, we do soda and McD’s. Soda is for special occasions, like monthly pizza nights. McD’s is for long distance travel. The kids won’t eat the food other than french fries, but they love the toys. We let them have their McD’s on road trips so that they will know why we don’t eat there regularly.

    I’m betting that someday they will choose to reject both soda and McD’s, as we do.

    So when you see me in the McD’s drive thru in Effingham, you’ll know we are on a road trip, and the kids are getting their Disney advertising served up with a side of fries. No soda on road trips because you are guaranteed another stop at the next town’s bathroom.

    I swear I’ve heard Michael Pollan admit to taking his kids to the evil McD’s, too. He didn’t sound too guilty.

  2. I, too, have aided and abetted that punch served at onegs.

    Unlike you, I had a few sips (immediately regretted) motivated by misplaced nostalgia (that same punch was a fixture at the family/church gatherings of my youth) and a general affection for the *idea* of punch as a shared festive libation. Unfortunately, that unholy amalgam of artificial flavorings and HCFS tastes like liquefied air freshener and melts into a beige pus–and mostly full cups of it remain to be cleaned up after an oneg. Does *anyone* actually enjoy drinking this stuff?

    Seems to me like the field is wide open for a 21st-century foodie intervention here: something sweet and refreshing that can be served from a punch bowl and appeal to a wide range of ages and palates while being unusual enough to feel celebratory.

    You come up with the recipe, punch for the new millennium, and I will provide baked goods for the oneg at which it makes its debut.

  3. my homemade chili came out rather tasty. i even got real mexican chorizo from El Charro rather than from Schnuck’s.

    i often wonder at how i ate what i used to eat. and how my future children will hate me for having come to all these realizations before they were born. they’ll never know the joy of McDonald’s…

  4. Ben,

    Trying to imagine what your unborn children will do, if you track those beliefs/predictions, is an exercise in eventual humility.

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