Save. Spend. Splurge.

What ever happened to our food?

When I mention that I tend to buy organic ($$$) and/or more natural and unprocessed foods, I get one of two reactions:

  1. Wow that is EXPENSIVE!!!!!! — You’re telling me!? My purse cries pennies nickels every time.*
  2. Oh. You’re one of THOSE people. — Hipster, Hippie, Militant Foodie, whatever you want to call it. I’ll take it, because I am a snob when it comes to eating well.

*Canada no longer has the penny. They came to their senses and decided that spending more than a penny to make a damn penny was just foolishness. This has resulted in folks hoping that their shopping totals round down rather than up, to the the nickel ($0.05 piece).

I eat well and buy expensive groceries for 3 main reasons:

  1. It tastes better than the cheap stuff — Yes, I CAN taste the difference
  2. I don’t eat packaged, processed or otherwise mysterious products like Spam
  3. I have the money to be able to do so, and I choose to spend it on FOOD

Which is why I was just thrilled to read Simple Living in Suffolk’s post on the whole “scandal” in Europe where they’ve been selling minced horse meat in place of minced beef, and in some cases, the “beef” lasagna was 100% horse meat.


(Above image via Ermine’s post — HAH!)

I highly suggest you go and read his post right after you read mine!

Ermine basically lays it out that … no one could even tell or taste the difference!

Someone in the comment was more miffed that he/she was paying the price of minced beef for what was the cheaper substitute of minced horse, rather than the fact that it was horse meat mixed into beef.


Photograph I took of a hardworking horse NOT destined to be eaten in New York City.

I am not going to repeat what he said word for word, but I am going to supplement with my own post ranting about food in general.

(I do bring this up as a topic from time to time when I go to work, and you’d be surprised just how heated this discussion gets!)


Before I go into my rant of all the things I see wrong with our food today (abroad as well!), I will put it out there that buying real food is expensive.

I get it. I know that real, unprocessed food costs money (sometimes more than the packaged stuff for obvious reasons), and not everyone has the cash to buy it.

However, there are a few things I’d like to point out:

Minced beef? Cheaper than a hunk of beef.

(That is, if you are certain you’re getting beef and not horse meat to begin with.)

Organic _______? More expensive than real _______.

The only things not really worth buying organic are things with thick peels on them like bananas or avocados, where the pesticides don’t really have a chance to get in.

Another “organic” food product I laugh at is honey.


We humans don’t MAKE honey.

(Eww. I do not want to think about ‘human honey’.)

We force poor honeybees to produce honey in their cute little houses, and then we swoop in like huge aliens in white suits, smoke them out to make them drowsy and sleepy, and steal their stash of sweet, syrupy goodness.

Sometimes, we even take the delicious food that they make for their queen, and eat it.

If I were them, I’d sting me too.

I don’t always buy organic and start parading myself around like some exemplary human being, I buy it when it makes sense for my tastebuds and my wallet.

Otherwise, I don’t always buy organic.


Not an actual honeybee pictured in that flower, but it’s the best photograph I have personally taken that is bee-like.


On top of that, because of our pesticides and I read somewhere our cellphones as well, and we basically cause honeybees to self-destruct due to the toxic chemicals, and also confusion signals (buzzing noises) coming from our cellphone towers.

They noticed that honeybees died in more urban areas where there were more cellphone towers located, than in others.

One out of every 3 bites of our food, comes from honeybee-pollinated fruits and vegetables.

We will NOT survive long if we are unable to eat fruits and vegetables any longer because there won’t be any bees left to help transform that food for us.


With “real” food costing more money, cheap food is something people go for.

The other day I went to go buy a Honeycrisp apple and those damn things cost $3.99 a pound, or $2.11 for ONE. APPLE.

I put it back, and went to go buy a Gala apple instead, coming out at $0.70 for 2 equivalent smaller-sized apples at $1.49 a pound.

I probably won’t enjoy it as much as a Honeycrisp apple, but I am not willing to pay $2 for an apple quite yet.

So is it any wonder that they put horse meat in the ground beef in Europe?

I mean, those grocery stores like ALDI (German, super low-cost No Frills kind of deal), deal in boxed foods for super cheap, which is how they took the market so easily.

We consumers don’t want to spend more money on food if they don’t have to, myself included, but it’s kind of sick to think that our choices may end up being either to eat food we don’t want to eat (modified or otherwise) or pay a lot more money than we want to, to get the real stuff.

(Still thinking about that $2 apple.)

Not all modified food is bad, as it helps ward off disease and more food can be produced, that’s true, but there is a limit to how far we can go before it becomes just the form and flavourless hint of what the former fruit or vegetable used taste like.


Ermine gave an example of meat being washed with ammonia because animals are butchered improperly by machines or by humans, and their feces get mixed into the meat and could make people sick.

Here are a few more that you may not have been aware of:


I was talking to a fellow Foodie Friend the other day, and I learned that eggs are all pumped full with antibiotics.

All eggs. Even organic ones.

The only way you will be able to get an egg without having any antibiotics or hormones injected into it, would be to grow your own chickens, as some farmers we saw in Portugal do.


Photograph I took in Portugal in the countryside. They have lovely fields of pesticide-free food that they share very willingly!


Ermine mentioned this already, and I’ve said it every time someone asks about baby carrots and how they got so “cute”.

They say it’s just a large carrot shaved down to look like a cute baby one, but I’m not buying it.

How can it tastes so flavourless and watery, in that case?

It tastes faintly like carrot (I’m inclined to believe they spread a little carrot extract on them to give it that flavour, but don’t quote me on that), and is crunchy, but essentially flavourless.

If you’ve ever eaten a real carrot chopped up, and then have a baby carrot right after, you’d notice the difference, as I have.

No sweet flavour, no taste, and I would NOT guess it to be a carrot if I were being forced to eat it blindfolded.


If you have, you will notice that in Canada, Liberté is the only brand that doesn’t use modified corn starch.

WTF is modified corn starch anyway?

(Don’t tell me, I can just Google it. I’m being facetious.)

Of course they use corn starch in some of their products like Frouto (I bought the pear ones to try today), but it is REAL corn starch as a thickener.



In addition to modified corn starch, you may read things like: “flavouring” or “aroma”, which basically means: “not the real stuff”.

If you ever see a yoghurt or pudding cup’s list of ingredients, you may see “vanilla flavouring”.

It doesn’t mean that they added vanilla, as in vanilla beans or you know, anything related to vanilla itself. It means they added something that tastes like vanilla.

Key words to remember: tastes like.

(I used to love those pudding cups in France from Danone, which are now crap because they’re vanilla flavoured, not vanilla.)

Also, yoghurt only tastes good if real milk is used.

That goes for all dairy products, cheese included.

We don’t have decent milk here in Canada, so the yoghurt is “okay”, Liberte being the best of the bunch because they’re more natural than the rest and less of a scam with additives.

However, the best yoghurt is found in Europe where they have AMAZING milk to create dairy products with, and very happy, pasture-fed cows.


100% oranges? What a load of crap.

By the time you get those “freshly squeezed oranges”, that are “not from concentrate”, they have been languishing in a big metal tank, and is a practically flavourless liquid, that we know of as “orange juice”.

They’ve removed all the oxygen from that juice so it can keep for up to a year and when it’s time to sell it, they add aroma, flavouring and colour to orange juice from flavour packs to “re-oxygenate” orange juice and to make it taste like you’re biting into a juicy fresh orange.


Yuck. Chemicals added to orange water. That’s our idea of “freshly squeezed orange juice” these days.


This shocked me when I started looking at ingredient labels. They add silica and other additives in your salt to stop it from caking.

As a result, you are ingesting what you think is salt… but isn’t.

Once you start reading ingredient labels, it’s hard to go back. It isn’t 100% salt.


Almond milk was something I was interested in a while back as something to add to my teas instead of regular milk, until I read the packages. They added OIL TO THE “milk”.


That grossed me out enough to just consider making my own almond milk.

They also add salt so that it enhances the taste, and a whole host of other crap.


Margarine, soy butter, “I can’t believe it’s not butter”… and all of that stuff is NOT butter.

All this crap that is ‘low-fat’, and presumably out to make you lose weight because it’s better for your heart is all hogwash to me.

Why don’t we just buy the real butter and eat it in moderation?

It’s better than eating a tub of fake butter.

I saw on TV5 (a French channel) of a dairy farmer who said:

Shoot we’re out of butter! Let’s go get some.

The woman (Maeve from Australia’s Food Safari I think), thought they meant going to the store, but the guy laughs and says they’ll do it here on the farm.

A guy goes out, nabs a clear glass bottle, heads over to a cow, milks it, closes the bottle and starts shaking the bottle really, really, really hard.

For 15 minutes or so.

The milk eventually turned into butter. I was drooling watching them eat that freshly made butter slathered on freshly made baguettes.

That’s how they always make butter. They don’t buy it.


This annoys me the most.

“Made with REAL strawberries!”

WTF did you put in there before? Fake ones?


 Photograph of amazing produce in Paris. 10 EUR for each box of strawberries!

Hershey in Canada is running an ad on commercial I can’t help but watch (it’s on the Food Network), that talks about “real” ingredients going into their milk chocolate bar.

“Real milk”, for instance.

What were you using before?

Oh wait, don’t tell me.

Modified, dried, milk ingredients. I could liken that to ‘chalk’ I think.

It looks like powdered milk to me. Good enough.

Throw that chalk essence into the pot!

Then in soups, talking about “real pieces of chicken”, or “real vegetables”. It kind of makes you do a double take when you hear this kind of marketing happening.


Even if you have the resources and are WILLING to spend your money on real food these days, you can’t bloody find it.

And maybe if you can find it, you may not even taste the difference… or prefer the lower-quality food, because you’re just so used to it.


I ate real blackberries in Portugal and was amazed at the flavour, the natural sweetness and the overall: OMG-ness of them.

I was so enamoured, I took many a photo of these wonderful berries:


Photograph I took of the very wild blackberries I stuffed my face with, growing wild, and unchecked in the fields of Portugal. I ate them all for FREE with a big glass of REAL milk (Mimosa brand).

I came back to Canada, bought a pack of blackberries out of nostalgia, and ended up hating every bite I paid $3 for.

They were disgusting.

I have the same sentiment about cherries here — they don’t taste as sweet and don’t get me started on strawberries — I have never tasted a strawberry as good as the ones that I ate from the fields.


I only buy the little Campari tomatoes now, at $6.99 a box because they’re the ONLY ones that taste like real tomatoes to me.

You know, kind of like heirloom tomatoes, that have actual tomato flavour, and aren’t watery, powdery and too-perfect looking?


Photograph I took in Paris inside a grocery store of gorgeous vegetables where you are strictly instructed by a stern little sign that you are NOT allowed to touch them — Ne Pas Toucher S.V.P.!!


Potatoes, are a disappointment here.

The potatoes I ate in Portugal, were creamy, yellow, and they were good enough just boiled as is.

Coming back to Canada, I am lucky if I find good potatoes. They taste bland, kind of dry and starchy, no potato flavour, and are frankly borderline edible.

I eat them because I love potatoes and I can’t give them up, but if I could pay double the price for real ones, I would.


Even meat doesn’t taste like meat here. I’d need to grocery shop in different cities around North America just to find decent food.

In Miami, I had amazing chicken. Their chicken, TASTED LIKE CHICKEN.

In Texas, they had the best beef (at Wal-Mart no less!) I had ever eaten. It was so flavourful, well raised, and it tasted like BEEF.


I have to buy organic chicken from a local farm just to get the real taste of chicken.

That “chicken” you can buy from Costco or Wal-Mart, is not what I call chicken. It shouldn’t taste rubbery, dry, or “fall off the bone” easily. It’s obvious those chickens didn’t run around or grow actual muscles to be able to build actual flavour and texture into their meat.

They’re basically skeletons with meat, growing in a cage.

Real meat, stays on the bone, so whenever I hear people say:

Wow this meat is SO GOOD it falls off the bone!...

I wonder if they’ve had meat that doesn’t fall off the bone, because the flavour is so much better and when it sticks to the bone and you have to gnaw it off like a beaver.

Fast forward to fast food hamburgers (even ones I see on TV), or pizzas.

I am totally, 100% grossed out by these commercials.

It doesn’t look good to me, but then again, I haven’t had a burger since I was a teenager, which is over 10 years ago.

And my pizza looks like this:


(All made from scratch, including the dough. We just didn’t grow the vegetables or the pig to give us the bacon, but we used the best of what we could find.)


Perhaps the worst of all is milk for me.

I haven’t had real milk since I left Europe (I’ve tried every brand I could find here.)

Portugal (Mimosa) and Le Président (when they made milk as a product) from France, were my staples when I was in Europe.

I would literally buy 1L of milk in a carton, and drink almost the entire liter in a day.

Here? It tastes like water.

The only milk in Canada close to tasting like real milk, is Lactantia, Trutaste, but it’s a pale, faint comparison to what real milk tastes like to me.

I should really be able to taste the cow in the milk, and here, it’s so bland, it’s sad.


Ermine pointed out that we’re to blame for wanting lower and lower prices on food, and perhaps we’re all cheap SOBs who just want price over quality.

In the end, sometimes going to poorer countries that don’t have money for pesticides or crap (like China, some farmers are too poor to buy such chemical pesticides), is a better way to get your paws on some real food (assuming you don’t think too hard about all the environmental toxins that leech into the soil and into the air to contaminate the food being grown).

I read somewhere that a tomato farmer said:

I’d love to grow and have my tomatoes be known for flavour, but the sad truth of the matter is that I get paid for tomatoes that are the SAME size, and red.

Round and perfect. Image matters more than taste, and that’s my bottom line talking.

Can you believe it? Farmers who would like to grow real food, can’t, because we idiotic consumers don’t want ugly looking tomatoes that taste like real tomatoes.

We want perfect, tasteless, bland, red spheres instead because it’s cuter.


Photograph I took of some real heirloom tomatoes in Paris that are the best of the bunch (real tomatoes are sometimes really ugly).

I have so much more to say in regards to food, which is also the reason why I get really frustrated to see that people cut in their Grocery spending because it’s the easiest, most convenient budget for them to slash over Vacation funds or other (in my eyes) less-important funds.

I also understand that money is a problem in buying nicer food, and I wholeheartedly agree with TRYING to buy less processed foods, and making food from scratch instead of buying it in a box.

Anyway, my non-PF related food rant is done.

If you’ve made it this far, congratulations! 😛

For more real food notes, head over to Simple Living in Suffolk’s post on the whole horsemeat scandal in Europe, plus other great points on food. He has a stronger PF-money view on the whole deal.

Less ranting, and he writes more eloquently than I do.


  • Ban Clothing

    I get my meat slaughtered, grow a garden, get fresh milk and eggs locally, don’t eat anything preserved, make everything myself including condiments, why, because I am a chemical engineer and I know what I deal with at work; I do not want to eat at home.

  • Figuette

    Hello, I’m from Greece and your post sort of disappointed me. No real milk? Only fruity yogurt? No good potatoes??? bad chicken and beef? I was thinking to move to Canada at some point, now I’m not sure if I want to. What do you people eat there? Do you only can buy fruits and vegetables at the supermarkets and grocery stores? It’s not all rosy here either, especially with tomatoes and strawberries but still, this post is fairly depressing.

    • mochiandmacarons

      Real milk, is subjective. You can get real milk if you live on a farm and have it from a cow, or know a farmer (I THINK!!! I don’t know any farmers to test this theory out), but the milk I buy, can only be bought in supermarkets.

      In New York City, I found “real milk”, that had milk fat separation and everything but it was so organic, it gave me allergies (I wasn’t used to it).

      In Europe, and for European brands found in Asia, they are still THE BEST (France & Portugal) I’ve ever tasted for milk.

      Yoghurt is not all fruity — let me clarify that they do have non-fruit based yoghurt that is plain, and the best one I’ve had is Liberte, but it is okay for me. Not amazing compared to what I’ve tried before in France (although those brands were gone off the shelf the last time I went back, probably due to the fact that they were too expensive to buy), but passable enough to eat.

      Potatoes are a problem for me. Portugal still had the best potatoes, and here it’s a hit and miss.

      Chicken is fine if you buy organic chicken (I go to a butcher), and beef is acceptable if you go to an independent butcher here who buys a whole cow and does it themselves, instead of buying pre-packaged meats in the a grocery store.

      But I will say the beef is STILL not as good as in Alberta, Canada or Texas, USA.

      You can buy fruits and veggies at farmer’s markets, but I found them to be a hit and miss as well. My theory is that Canada is too cold to grow proper food (you need the right climate, soil, temperature), and I’m comparing the cold weather of Canada to the warmer, more fertile growing seasons of the south of the U.S., or in Europe where it isn’t quite as cold.

  • Mochi & Macarons

    Oh that’s a good point that pesticides damage not just the fruit but the workers as well.

    I will definitely subscribe to that blog. I am passionate about real food in general, and I vote and pay for it with my money.

    I will definitely consider how to write about farmer’s markets and CSAs to improve our food system.

    I was thinking of writing more, but this post started to reach the lengths of what I call: overkill.

    Maybe a part 2. 🙂

  • Mochi & Macarons

    Update: I just read your foie gras post and it’s exactly what I’ve thought as well.

    I love foie gras (no apologies here), but I like GOOD foie gras, not stuff that is trying to pass for it.

    We made our own the other day, and the way that they handled the duck liver here (not cleaning the veins after slaughter), and the amount of FAT that came out of it (not unexpected, but it was 50%), made us realize that here in Canada, they have no idea how to properly care for duck liver to be able to use it.

    It’s a waste.

    That duck probably never went outside, never had proper care taken of it, the way a small family farm in France would do it. I don’t want to pay money to a farm that doesn’t care about its animals and producing the right kind of ingredients for the best products to be made.

    Now we have to wait until we’re in France before we make any foie gras.

  • Mochi & Macarons

    I went out searching for a yoghurt maker the other day, and I almost bought one with 8 glass bottles to make yoghurt.

    Then I realized that the milk I had to work with here, would be the same milk that Canadian companies like Liberte are using. It’d be the same result O_O.

    As long as Liberte doesn’t change their formula to add modified fillers, I am okay with continuing with them.

    You need good milk for good cheese, good yoghurt and good food in general, so alas, my yoghurt experiment won’t be happening any time soon unless I buy a cow and learn how to milk her.

    I have never tasted horsemeat, but I suspect that it does have a distinct flavour. It can’t taste like everything else (impossible) or else people would actually eat horse instead of beef.

    I think what happens is that they might grind it up really finely, and then wash it in ammonia (?) perhaps, and add a lot of beef fat to help mask the taste.

    Then when you cook with it, the flavour stays mediocre, and bland, but people add salt and spices, which covers up the entire flavour, masking the whole horse-y taste. Just a speculation.

    I will read that foie gras article. BF made some the other day and was just disgusted with the raw foie we bought. It was good, but it was half fat, which is not what it’s supposed to be.

  • Vanessa

    I drank a glass of milk in Paris and thought I was going to die of happiness. I can’t imagine ever having tasted milk that rich and REAL tasting. I’ve yet to try and fruit here but I am mighty tempted when I walk by

    • Mochi & Macarons

      10 EUR per strawberry basket. That’s your budget for the day, no!?

      When I am in Europe, I should just keep a separate budget for milk and cheese. I gorge myself.

  • 101 Centavos

    Cutting the grocery budget is a low-hanging fruit. Entirely discretionary, and the feedback (or savings) is immediate.
    Good food, good drink and good company takes some effort, and the benefits (better nutrition, less stress, improved health) not so easily discerned.
    Nice “costoluti” tomatoes. I’ve tried to grow them a couple times, but our climate isn’t the best for them.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Maybe that’s why I’m such a militant foodie.

      I really don’t see the point in cutting back on food even if it’s low-hanging.

      To me, giving up a cellphone plan I rarely use, or cutting back on cable TV is a lower-hanging sort of fruit than food.

      It’s an enjoyable, regular pleasure that seems to be something that brings all families and cultures together. It would make no sense to diminish its value by trying to take shortcuts.

  • Suki

    Amen! That is all I have to say. AMEN.

  • Emma

    This is an amazing inspirational post. I read this in awe and it really hit me about all the food that we’re eating and if it’s 100% organic. Keep posting these brilliant posts because they’re incredible and they always hit you with the truth. Also this post had amazing pictures (especially the blackberry one) and humor I was laughing sometimes in the the middle of your post. Keep up the good work.

  • Inhae Koo

    This post totally hit home on a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately.

    This issue has gotten me to the point where I’ve become one of those crazy militant foodies that lecture friends on what they’re eating, which, to paraphrase the journalist Michael Pollan, are “edible food-like substances,” and not real food. Since beginning my reading and research on this topic, I’ve switched to a paleo diet completely (I only follow it loosely – for example – I will still eat quinoa and rice a few times a week) – (other aspects aside) where I namely don’t eat any processed foods (if it doesn’t eventually grow mold after a few weeks – it’s not food), eat locally grown, seasonal, organic/free range/fed with biologically appropriate diets, hormone- and additive-free foods (and largely grain free) – and also gone completely sugar- (honey, agave, maple syrup is okay – and occasionally a little raw sugar – but none of that icky white refined stuff) and preservative-free in my foods.

    My grocery bill has doubled, but I feel so much better (no 3pm crashes for me – energy is very stable), I’ve lowered my body fat percentage 2% (I’m an athlete so lean muscle mass is very important), and best of all, the food tastes so great.

    It’s a challenge sometimes, having to cook after a full time job and training 1-3 hours a day after my job, but I’d rather eat properly, and support the local farmers while I’m at it.

    I’ve also switched all my pets (2 cats, 2 dogs) over too the raw diet, where they get biologically appropriate, organic, hormone-free foods (a mix of meat, organs & bone), supplemented with natural treats (marrow bones, air dried jerky, dog- and cat-safe vegetables & fruit) here and there. The difference in them is astounding too – one of my cats with feline lower urinary tract disease does NOT have ANY problems with his urine production anymore, and runs around like a kitten again.

    I think it’s time we all woke up and decide to eat properly, and actually take the time to plan, cook, and eat meals in a social setting like we once did – and stop eating low-nutrient, high-calorie processed cr*p. We need to go back to eating low-calorie, high-nutrient foods like we once did, and eat things that are regionally appropriate as well!

    For an excellent read on this topic, I’d recommend Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food,” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” Other documentaries such as “Food, Inc.,” “Farmageddon,” and “Hungry for Change,” would also be a big help.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      That’s a good point that real food grows mold.

      I saw a comparison the other day that was floating around of a McDonald’s meal after 180 days, versus a watermelon (?) after a few days.

      Kind of shocking, even if it was edited slightly.

      What I can’t believe, is that we have to pay more money to get real food, because the profit machine is trying to cut costs by putting pesticides and chemicals into our food to make the cost of it lower.

      It’s like some sort of sci-fi nightmare.

      I have those books and that documentary on my list to read and watch.

      I’d suggest back to you this book: What I eat around the world, What we eat in 80 diets, and Hungry Planet

      It’s what started me thinking about what we eat in First World countries versus the natural, healthier food of Third World ones. The photographs don’t lie, and are stunning.

  • financialuproar


    That is all.

  • Janine

    Preach! The food here is absurd. We are in the process to switching to all locally grown and other than being starving 3/4 of the time (I swear all I eat is fruits and veggies) I feel better. THere is so much flavour in the food we buy now, I don’t think I can go back to grocery store produce… it just isn’t the same. I wish it were less expensive to put the right stuff in your body but then who would be able to make money off of us…. sigh.

  • Manda

    YES. This, this this times about a bajillion. I want to buy more organic/local food, but it’s hard to do so on a tight budget. I’m trying to take baby steps first, which involves cutting out junk food as that’s a necessity (I’ve been loading up on way too much junk lately!) and then working my way up to organic buys at the supermarket. I’m giving up chocolate and chips (potato, cheese puffs, whatever) for Lent, so we’ll see how that goes.

    There was a report released yesterday (or maybe Monday?) about how the meat industry was guzzling an insane amount of antibiotics, which in turns affects antibiotic resistance in animals and the meat that we consume. Terrifying stuff, and nothing’s been done about it because the FDA is dithering over how to best implement new regulations that would attempt to alleviate that problem!

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Oh god.

      Can we just not pump them full of antibiotics and maybe sell LESS meat?

      Raise the prices then. People will eat less meat in general, and it will alleviate the problem.

      Look at gas — raised prices forced people to start thinking about walking more, taking the bus, the subway, and using their car LESS.

      It ended up being a better situation in general. Sure, it penalizes the poor because they can’t afford the meat, but you can then subsidize THAT program with the ability to let them purchase fixed amounts at slightly reduced prices.

  • maz

    With regards to real milk, I don’t think many people would actually like it. It’s quite strong. I was brought up drinking real milk – that is milk bought from the local farm straight after the cows were milked and the milk heated up. To tell the truth, I’ve always hated it. The taste is so strong. I know that it’s better for you but I just doubt that many people would like it nowadays. Well, just my opinion anyway.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Perhaps. I don’t doubt it.

      I was so used to bland, watery milk in Canada that when I tried some stronger milk in the U.S., my body had a slight allergic reaction (itchy).

      BUT I LOVED IT! I loved the taste. The cow, the grass, I could really taste it in the milk and I realized that was what real milk tasted like.

      Then being in Portugal, France, Spain.. the milk is more pasteurized so I didn’t get that same allergic reaction but I had the similar taste of delicious milk that I can’t get here.

  • MelD

    You make North America sound even less appealing – and I know you found eating difficult in China…!! What would I eat if I came over :O

    Countries in the EU are losing their sensible eating habits to a great extent and under pressure to provide “cheap” as much as possible. I struggle when I’m in France, looking for my basic foods that are available everywhere here in Switzerland. We are very very lucky, I know. We live in a small country that has tight laws they are able to enforce: the cheap chains (Aldi, Lidl) are not popular with Swiss, it’s mostly the lower-income immigrants who shop there – although they have been forced to sell Swiss bread and meat and what veg they have is usually ok if you get there on delivery day. After that, not so. Anything packaged is foreign, processed and a cheap deal – tastes that way, too, hence: not popular! The two big Swiss supermarkets have a very high standard in regular foods plus they have organic ranges, too. Sure, they also sell processed crap but I can still choose (as most Swiss do) to buy real food – and what’s more, here there is a lot more consciousness of what’s in season, which you didn’t mention. We really have summer veg and winter veg and though I have now noticed we get tomatoes all year round, many people don’t buy them because winter tomatoes from Holland and Spain don’t taste worthwhile. That is what canned is for – just plain cooked and preserved tomatoes for cooking. No additives. As for milk, there is only Swiss milk at the regular places, as well as Swiss yogurt, cheese, butter (why would I eat petrol in the form of margarine?!) and whatever else dairy you want. Not every village still has a dairy but a lot do and you can buy your dairy straight from there – the best cheeses made on the premises. From spring to autumn you can stop off at one of the farms and buy whatever is in season, be it asparagus, berries, salads, apples, pumpkins – this is a country where the biggest city is around 350K population and nowhere is more than 300km away, so it’s all nearby. I can take my bike or go on foot from my small town of 22K to be at a range of farms easily, and that same stuff is in the supermarket and local cooperatives, too – labelled which farm it came from (especially eggs). Some make their own ice-creams or salad dressings that are really popular, too. Up the road is a fishery whose trout fillets I can go and get (choose the fish you want and they will hand over the fillets in a couple of minutes) or buy in the supermarket throughout the region…

    As for horsemeat, I am a rider and owner. One of the most popular restaurants with the locals is the local horse butcher and I have zero qualms about eating horsemeat there because I know the locals take their substandard foals and damaged/old horses there, it’s a short journey and a quick process, it makes economic sense. I won’t eat horsemeat from anywhere else (France or eastern Europe) because of the conditions – long torturous journeys, stress, filth etc. What amazes me about this British scandal is that horsemeat is better-tasting and more tender than beef (even old horses are never tough), it’s just a taboo about horsemeat. For people here, even riders, horses are business and it makes sense to dispose of them in a useful manner. (Personally, I had my own horse I had had for 25 years euthanised at home and therefore they were not allowed to make him into steak! But then I am soft and not a farmer…) Icelanders eat horsemeat, too, by the way. I bet their little horses from the mountains taste great!

    The usual British scaremongering, anyway, and a delicate subject for many, I suppose.

    Still, am I glad I can get my plain oats, my local milk, labelled eggs and veg, fruit from the farmer and pretty much choose the pig or cow (or horse!) I want to eat… it seems I do live in paradise, after all.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      You couldn’t survive here. Just kidding.

      It’s not that the food is inedible here. It just isn’t up to the quality that I’ve seen in other countries. If I had never traveled, I would have never known or tasted the difference.

      China had better fruit and vegetables than here (avoiding the toxicity of the whole country taken into account when growing said food). They tasted better (cherries and mangoes.. OMG), and they didn’t use pesticides (no money).

      In North America, NYC had some of the best food from around the country, but the beef was not Texas-quality (amazing!), and the chicken was not Florida’s quality (delicious, even not sold as “organic” chicken).

      In Canada, we have some good points too. Their apples are decent here when in season, but as we have a shorter growing season and less sun, a lot of our food comes from the U.S.

      I’d say in Canada, Montreal is the best city for real food that I’ve found.

      Cheap food tastes cheap. We have no concept of what a regular growing season is, and it is because we are able to fly food in from all over the world that has dulled our tastes.

      We can’t imagine eating something local because we don’t need to. Something that looks like a pomegranate but was grown elsewhere, is good enough to be sold at $4 each.

      I’ve never had horsemeat, but it makes sense to eat them if they can’t be ridden any more. Nothing goes to waste.

      They just end up being your friends and pets if you get too attached.

      It’s like when people get grossed out that in some countries they eat dogs and cats, even rats or insects.

      Well, if you grew up there starving without any chance at food, or unable to buy any, you’d be ready to eat anything without any mental pre-conceptions of what is able to be eaten and what isn’t.

      During the war, you’d rather die than eat a source of food in front of you? I think not.

      You do live in paradise. I want to visit Switzerland now 🙂 Cherish it!

      I envy your food accessibility.

  • Brittany

    Amen, sister! The things I see buying that passes for food now… Today someone posted on Facebook a box of microwaveable grilled cheese sandwiches that have “fresh from the grill” flavor. Are people really so busy they can’t make a damn grilled cheese sandwich? Or those pre-made PB&Js? I am thankful to live in Portland, OR, because people seem to really care about food here. (Ummm…have you seen “Portlandia”?) I love that people really do care where their food comes from and there are so many farmer’s markets and co-ops. It is so easy to be a locavore here. Food is so much better when it’s actual FOOD.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      That fresh from the grill flavour is either carbon (bad for you), or it’s chemicals to make you feel/taste the flavour of carbon.

      Food should be real food, and it’s sad that we’re accepting flavour packs as a way to fix the flavour into what it used to be.

      We are so damn lazy, if our commercials are anything to go by.

      Instant mashed potatoes is another one that gets me.

  • Pauline

    When people come visit us in Guatemala they are surprised the food tastes like food. Most things are organic, grown by local farmers and the meat is really tasteful, just grass fed with a shot for parasites and that is it. I make pizza and burgers from scratch, and rarely buy something processed. Like you I used to cringe at the price of vegetables, especially in France but come on, how much would you spend on a Mars bar or a bag of chips? Making a diner at home with quality ingredients will rarely cost more than 25% of the price of the same meal in a restaurant. I still buy in season to avoid really overpriced stuff but otherwise don’t look too much at the prices anymore.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I had a friend who went to Mexico and RAVED about how the food was so amazing.

      He hates vegetables, and he actually loved all the vegetarian dishes there that were prepared with just salt and pepper.

      I’d agree with buying in season (makes a difference), and overpriced items, but when my food budget rocketed up to $1000/month for 4 people, my budget fainted (not literally.)

      I will mention that I’m more annoyed because it’s getting harder to find real food here for me. I don’t know what it is exactly as the cause — GMO, pesticides, low quality produce making it across the border — but it’s SOMETHING.

      Oh and for garlic, I bought cheap Chinese garlic all these years only to realize there’s no flavour. Switched to the expensive USA-grown garlic and BAM! my dishes improved immensely.

      Who knew? 🙂

  • Nicole

    We buy some beautiful beef from a local farmer. Grass (pasture) fed – the whole time, not just finished. Also buy a LOT of veggies at farmers markets in the summer as well as growing veggies in the back yard. And yes, I live in a city. Try square foot gardening – container gardening works also. I agree with the lack of taste – I can’t find cherries anymore that taste like cherries. I miss cherries, and every year get suckered into a very expensive bag of shinny red tasteless orbs on stems.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      When you buy beef from your farmer, can you pick the cuts? That’s my problem with buying it from a farmer, I won’t be able to eat all of it. Or at least I’d have to expand my palette and recipes.

      I will try container gardening once I get out of here. I’d like to start growing real food on my own. I have a lot of PDFs I’ve built up in a library to get started.

      The flavour of food has just diminished. I know it isn’t just in my head because when I travel, I can find the real food elsewhere.

      That’s not to say all of North America is crap, but it’s a hit and miss for me. I can eat apples here, but the oranges are not as nice as in Florida. Etc etc.

  • Cassie

    I’ve been making a concentrated effort to buy organic produce when I’m going to the grocery store. I’m so used to buying whatever is cheapest that I have to force myself to pay more. Even then, I’m not really pleased with the quality I’m getting. Most of the time I can get better from the farmer’s market (not always), and I found a butcher in town that works with grass fed local beef, so I can find some decent food with a little work. One thing to note about the milk is that the flavour of it changes depending on where you are in the country (though the same can be said for meat). I’ve found another brand of yogurt that doesn’t use fillers as well, but I can’t remember off the top of my head what it is. The prepackaged food nowadays scares me to be quite honest, I generally just bypass the middle aisles.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Good point about milk — it does change. I have a feeling it is due to what the cows eat, however. Real grass makes a difference versus a feed.

      The milk in Portugal (I met the cows and the farmers), was .. just beyond anything I’ve ever tasted in my life. I realized it was what real milk tasted like.

      Here in stores, buying a bag of milk makes me think of creamy water.

      If you remember that yoghurt brand, let me know. So far I’ve been sticking to Liberte, but their Greek Yoghurt is just awful (too starchy for me).

  • StudentDebtSurvivor

    “Human honey” made me vomit a little bit in my mouth. Gross! We joined a CSA a couple years back and had a really good experience (fresh, local produce, organically grown-not certified, but same difference minus the expensive organic certification process). It was expensive, but so worth it. If we can find one here at our new condo we’ll definitely do it again.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Sorry. I warned you 🙂 Sort of.

      I would REALLY like to do a co-op thing, but the problem is we don’t eat all the vegetables that come our way. For instance, I loathe eggplant. BF hates coriander. These are things that might pop up in the basket and it would honestly just go to waste on us.

  • tomatoketchup

    I balked the first time I paid for a honeycrisp apple, but man are those things tasty!

    I’ve found that shopping at a local farmers’ market is a nice compromise between price and quality, and you don’t feel like you’re emptying your wallet for one meal like I do every time I step into a Whole Foods.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      I’m addicted to honeycrisp apples. I really am. I just can’t pay $4.29 a pound or $3.99 a pound for them.

      I’ll buy them once in a while just to eat them, but.. man… !!

      Local Farmers Markets are nice if you are near them to begin with. Otherwise, I’ve noticed an influx of false farmers markets popping up with produce that looks suspiciously a lot like the ones in stores.

      Then I question them (nicely, gently) and I find out that they’re just resellers like at a grocery store. O_o

      Whole Foods is a scam for most things. Great for when you travel because it’s still cheaper than buying food in a restaurant, but … damn they’re really expensive for the most part.

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