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.