Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Really Don't Need My Food to Be This Convenient

I've written before about my frustrations with food labeling. In that article, I talk about how absurd it is that orange juice companies can put chemically-altered "flavor packs" in our drinks and still call them "natural." I also vent about how illogical it seems to me not to label genetically modified food so that consumers can make informed purchasing decisions. Those things are definitely issues, but sometimes food labeling is so insane that I don't even know what to ask for anymore.

See, I'm traveling (this post brought to you by hotel wifi and travel weariness) and when I'm on the road, many of my well-intentioned and usually well-followed plans to eat only whole, minimally-processed foods go out the window. I still stay away from fast food, and I've given up soda, so I reason that whatever processed food was in the salad I ate for lunch (I'm looking at you, BBQ sauce and tortilla strips) isn't going to kill me (too quickly). However, traveling also makes me incredibly aware of just how convenient we have come to expect our food to be.

How convenient, you ask? This convenient:

That, my friends, is a pizza-by-the-slice vending machine. Those buttons on the side allow you to choose your flavor, and this little electronic box whips it out in minutes, hot and ready to "enjoy." 

Really? I mean. Really? And the thing that gets me the most is that the marketers of this particular absurdity have the audacity to put--right there on the front--that this is "made from the freshest ingredients." Come on! Words have meaning! In what world can the "freshest" anything sit for days (weeks? months? I don't quite know how these things work, but I assume there are frozen slices of pizza in there). 

I'm not saying that pizza vending machines shouldn't exist, because if people want to buy their food from a box in a hotel hallway, I'm not going to stand in their way. But let's at least be real about it. No one is deciding to hit the hallway looking for a "fresh" gourmet experience. Would the people who are willing to eat this really change their minds if we didn't just blatantly lie in the advertising? I highly doubt it. 

At some point, we have to admit that these convenience products aren't really even food anymore, a reality explored through humor in this SNL skit:


  1. Is there possibly another link for that video? It looks like it's only available to US viewers

  2. Sorry! This one isn't very high quality, but see if it will work.

  3. And you know, I am still imagining, like, stereotypical school lunch pizza -- cardboard and wax paper cheese -- hardened on top and raw in the middle. Because I would bet anything that's what it comes out of the machine looking like.

    1. And I remember being so excited when it was pizza day--the bar must have been set pretty low.