When developing a theme or a premise, a writer may reveal personal information which influences their opinion and affects their ability to be objective. “For purposes of full disclosure” is a pleasant way to begin such a revelation. When I discuss Hollywood celebrities and sports personalities, I remember to preface my discussion with the phrase “although I don’t have a Tee Vee, dot dot dot.”
When I read the New York Times article The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food by Michael Moss, I was amazed and horrified to learn how processed convenience food is created, manufactured, and marketed. The psychology and manipulation used to sell a plastic tray of pseudo meat, sugar, and salt was upsetting; for a moment, I couldn’t believe that any mother would give her children Lunchables. Who was buying these wildly popular proxies for a healthy lunch?
Then I remembered the importance of “full disclosure.” I’m not a working mother.
Back in the 1980’s, Oscar Meyer had a lot of baloney and wieners that weren’t selling. It was Bob Drane’s job to figure out how to market these products and like any corporate VP, he organized focus-group sessions with mothers. Step one is to identify a need. The women interviewed complained about time. They wanted to give their children a healthy variety of foods, but putting it all together every day was complicated and they were short on time.
The Lunchable was born out of these sessions.
I’m a busy person, but on the weekend I have time to work in the garden, go to Farmers Markets, and talk to local merchants. When I get home from work, it’s just me and my kale. I’ve made decisions about the food I’m going to buy and where I’m going to buy it. No one complains if there are no Lunchables in my reusable canvas bag.
If I want to experiment with a fun and attractive way to incorporate more cabbage and cottage cheese into my diet, I just do it and no one complains or says “gross.”
Everything in my “parfait” was grown and produced locally, but it required thought, calculation, and time to prepare. This was the first week my farmer friends had spinach from their high tunnel and I figured the healthy green vegetable would give my parfait a pop of color. Posting a picture here on my blog is a little focus group, but I’m not so naïve as to think working women with children are going to pack such creations in lunch boxes. For all I know, lunch boxes may be forbidden in public schools.
It’s not a moral failure if a person’s green food looks more like this.
Something is wrong with the way food is produced and consumed in America. People know it’s broken, but how can they slow down enough to chop cabbage, braise kale, and roast sweet potatoes? For every hand that comes between them and the sources of their food, a layer of processing and manipulation is added but a layer of time is peeled away. What is the mathematical formula for convenience food? What is the constant which makes it easy and tasty, yet devoid of nutrition?
I’d like a full disclosure from Oscar Meyer and the other wieners.