Review: Food Tech

Technology is an amazing thing. It is the reason that when the animals are living with adverse weather conditions we sit warm and toasty in front of our 70″ LCD’s watching “24” on Tivo. But one place I’m not comfortable with an over abundance of technology is at the dinner table.

The History Channel’s new series, Food Tech, is a tour of the nation’s food processing facilities. It shows the things we eat as they are transformed through the magic of bright shiny conveyor belts and auto-robotic presses. Suspiciously absent are the images of disfigured animals crowded together in cages until the blissful release of death.

So Food Tech is less documentary and more like a celebration of progress.  There is no attention paid to the repercussions of food processing just a childlike appreciation for bagging 75,000 tons of chips a day.  It’s like Food Network’s Unwrapped only longer.

The episode I watched was entitled Cheeseburger & Fries but it wasn’t about real burgers.  It was about those drive-thru things that pass for burgers.  Technically to be a burger the patty must be 5 ounces or more.  Anything under 5 ounces is called a slider.  These were the ubiquitous quarter-pounders that are machine-made and designed to go straight from freezer to assembly line.

Host Bobby Bognar tours the imitation cheese plant where dairy bi-product is molded into one 1000 foot long sheet of cheese-food.  He narrates how it is cut into uniform slices and automatically wrapped and sealed. Then they move to a laboratory to “prove” that processed cheese is better than natural cheese because it provides a more even melt.  There is more to cheese than even melting like say taste.

Bognar then heads off to a Salinas, California lettuce farm to show how it is harvested for use in the drive-thru.  He even says that lettuce is all about the crunch and nothing is better than Iceberg.  Except Romain, Green Leaf, Red Leaf or any other green lettuce.  Why not just tell the truth, “Sure Iceberg is devoid of flavor and nutrients but it is extremely cheap to produce.”

I know the goal of the show is to trumpet innovation but I have to wonder if at anytime Bognar thinks, “maybe that’s something I shouldn’t eat.”  Just because something can be chewed, digested and passed does not make it food.  All I am asking is a little equal time on the subject rather than a series of propaganda films for agri-business.  This series is a glorification of everything that is wrong with America’s food system.

Cheeseburger & Fries

4 Responses to Review: Food Tech

  • Bobby says:

    Glad I finally got to read this!

    • Does that mean I'm about to get unfriended of Facebook, Bobby?

      • Bobby says:

        No, of course not…but it is interesting the way you spoke about the show to me when I met you, and comparing it to this review!
        I guess I would have liked a chance to talk to you about the moitivations, etc…but obviously it's ok that you didn't care for it.

        • You also have to remember the timing of the premiere and that review. Food Inc., King Corn and the like were all the buzz and I was clearly filled with righteous indignation. I would have loved to have talked more with you about it, too. You've actually had the experience of entering a lot of these processing facilities and can speak with great credibility as to what goes on good or bad. I am also a lot more inclined to trust your opinion than agenda-driven spiel from either camp. Perhaps there is a long overdue interview looming here. What's your schedule look like?

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Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards
2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up
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