When I called for Michael Pollan to the be the next food czar in an earlier post, it was a bit of a pipe dream. Although there’s a larger grassroots movement afoot to nominate him for Secretary of Agriculture, the reality is that it won’t be him. However, there is another petition going around now (drafted in part by Pollan and other REAL FOOD advocates) asking President-Elect Obama to consider several progressive choices for Ag Sec. And in today’s NY Times, Nicholas Kristof takes up the drumbeat as well.
What’s so interesting– and infuriating at times– are the arguments in the comments section to Kristof’s piece from those who dont’ want a government ‘food police’ telling us what we can and can not eat. Here’s the thing: those of us who want a Secretary of Food (and maybe agriculture) don’t want to be told what to eat either. We just want people to have greater freedom to eat REAL FOOD.
Right now, we are essentially being “told” what to eat by Agribusiness. This powerful lobby has helped make heavily processed food made from corn, soy and rice as well as factory farmed meat and poultry exceptionally cheap. By comparison, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and humanely raised meat and poultry are expensive, which makes choosing REAL FOOD difficult for the budget concious and impossible for the poorest of Americans.
Sure, there are probably people who signed this petition who would like to moralize and tell us all what to eat, but I would suspect that most people (like me) just want someone to come in and level the playing field for farmers who are trying–or would like to try– to grow real food. Real progress will be made when, calorie-for-calorie, broccoli and a box of Rice Krispie Treats cost the same.
In a previous post, I mentioned how President-Elect Obama might come to like beets if he came to Australia and tried the Burger with the Lot. This burger is a pastiche in which beetroot is a culturally defining ingredient. The beetroot is such an integral part of Australian burger gastronomy, at Hungry Jacks (the mysteriously re-named Burger King replica) you can even “have it your way” with beetroot.
Burger King's... errrrr.. Hungry Jack's Aussie Burger.
In an effort to accurately portray the Burger with the Lot, I made a trip to my local Supa-Deli and ordered one.
Without further ado, a photo essay of the Aussie Burger, as promised:
The burger waiting for its dissection
The top bun has a smear of ketchup. The burger is crowned with a fried egg.
The next layer is a mess of grilled onions.
Bacon. Mmmmm. Bacon. Note it's Aussie bacon.
There's the beef!
A slice of "tasty" cheese.
The all-important beetroot. Notice the pepto bismol pink stain it leaves on the cheese slice.
Last, but not least, tomato and lettuce, also known as "salad".
Needless to say, this burger makes for messy eating.
Because Americans are obsessed with the everyday minutiae of our Commanders-in-Chief, today we get this report detailing Barack Obama’s– and the Obama family’s– eating habits. A quick summation of the article: they dig Rick Bayless’ Mexican food, pizza, handmade pastas, and kicking back with some wine or maybe a margarita. Much to my annoyance, the article also mentioned Obama eats “boutique salad greens” — a fact that was used in an attempt to brand him an elitist, which is so ridiculous I posted about that a few months ago. You can’t even go to an Applebee’s these days and not find arugula on the menu. But I digress.
But the one thing the Pres-elect reportedly won’t touch: beets. I know, I know. Everyone has foods they don’t like. But beets really aren’t that bad.
I think a visit to Australia might be just the thing to get Mr. Obama over his repulsion. You see, beets (or beetroot as it is known here) are put on the delicacy known as the Aussie Burger w/the Lot. “The Lot” is shorthand for all the other food they put on the burger which includes the aforementioned beetroot, pineapple, a fried egg, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. They are a big, sloppy, burgery mess and they are GREAT! Plus, they’re the gateway food to more general beet eating.
So can Australia change Obama’s mind about beets? YES WE CAN!!
P.S. I’m endeavouring to get a photo of a burger w/the lot. Please stand by.