Canadian Kraft, a triple medley

by Yule Heibel on July 16, 2003

Check out this alarming but funny article by David Olive of The Toronto Star, Kraft cooks up a plan to avoid obesity lawsuits. Aside from real information, there’s trivia, too: did you know that company founder J.L. Kraft was the “second-oldest of 11 children in a Mennonite farm family, was the Henry Ford of food, a trailblazer in the mass marketing of cheese, caramels, marshmallows and jams and jellies,” and was from Canada? How about that the food industry is a US$ 1 trillion business which spends US$ 4.5 billion annually on advertising? If you read books like Rick Gallop’s The G.I. Diet (“glycemic index diet”), the fast food and obesity linkage becomes even more apparent. Every molecule in processed & fast food is designed to be converted as quickly as possible into sugar (glucose) in your bloodstream, with your body incapable of putting up any resistance. The G.I. Index was developed by Dr. David Jenkins, a professor of nutrition at the University of Toronto. Another Canadian, eh, and because the diet is NIH (that doesn’t stand for National Institutes of Health, it stands for “not invented here”), you won’t hear much about it in the US. But it’s great if you need to watch heart health & weight. Or need more ammunition to convince your kids to stay away from white bread, commercial peanut butter and jam. And speaking of the kids: the Canadian Home Economics Association is disbanding. As the local paper here puts it, it’s “a sign of modern times now that home ec is no longer taught in many schools and the group doesn’t have the numbers to keep up its credibility.” I learned to make muffins in home ec. I never make them now, but my husband does, for breakfast, and he never took home ec, which might prove the value of disbanding the Home Ec Association. On the other hand, learning to cook has become an upper-middle class aspiration: the gourmet touch, showing that you’re worldly, that you’re more sophisticated than that, meaning that you’re better than white bread and peanut butter. So my kids will keep getting exposed to kitchen chemistry, to exotic foods, and to pretensions of gourmet skills at the stove and food prep counter. You should see our collection of knives! The pots! The Kitchen Aid appliance! The spices! The pizza stone! The Reggiano in a solid (and expensive) wedge! Yeah, yeah, no problem. But what about the kids who are getting raised on white bread junk, with no upper-middle-class aspirations to learn gourmet cooking? Disbanding home ec in those cases just helps the fast food industry get more customers down the road.

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