Sunday, July 25, 2010

Food Revolution Road Trip Day 7: Cheesy

Things to Do, Places to Go!

-shop in some of the interesting places in downtown Rapid City
-Jake gets a hair cut

Food Revolution Challenge:

-the hotel fridge becomes a bit testy
-awkward Food Revolution moment when my kid is less tactful than I'd like
-introduce Jake to the wonders of Spray Cheese

"I DO NOT believe THIS." I'm tossing veggies around the hotel room. "That stupid FRIDGE froze everything! Crap!" I'm going to have to improvise for lunch today. The sprouts, sweet red pepper, avocado, and tomatoes are all ruined. I admit, I'm sort of pissed off. The cheese is in one solid icy hunk, too. The milk is icy but drinkable.

It's raining again. I'm grouchy. I hate wasting food. I don't want to brave yet another trip to a grocery store, and yet I really hate not having options for lunch. I'm going to have to improvise with what survived the fridge's icy interior.

We spent part of our morning at the hair dresser, getting Jake's long locks snipped into something more manageable. While we're there, the girl starts a conversation with Jake and he mentions Food Revolution Road trip. Oh, crap.

It's one thing to do this covertly and write about it, another if we start talking to people. I'm a Canadian, which by nature means I'm usually really polite.

Well. When I'm not driving in downtown Vancouver, anyway.

I don't want to offend people. We are guests here, and to say anything disparaging is like going to someone's house and saying your don't like their furniture. When I'm in the USA I try to blend, and I want to be honest but not..THAT honest.

"So, do you think Canadian food is healthier?" She wastes no time getting right to the point.


"YES." Jake, being a teenager, isn't always as tactful as I'd like him to be. My face turns scarlet.

"As far as I know, we don't have things like hormones in milk and high fructose corn syrup in our food. But you know, Canadians supposedly eat the most salt of any other country. I do think it's easier to find things that are healthier where we live. There just seems to be a lot more options then what we've experienced so far in Rapid City. Maybe other places are easier, I don't know."

"Well," she snips away, "This is why Americans are so obese," she snips some more. "Look at the crap we eat."

I really don't know what to say.

Back at the hotel as we eat lunch, and I find an article in the Rapid City Journal which says South Dakota "has the 15th worst weight problem in the nation and an obesity rate topping 28 percent". I send the author an e-mail, detailing what Food Revolution Road Trip is and offering to share our observations, or a bit of perspective. To this day, I haven't received a reply.

Later on that day we wander through downtown Rapid City, finding more presidents,

And more cool shops, like the Prairie Edge.

If you visit Rapid City, you MUST visit Prairie Edge. Part art gallery, part store, this shop is as huge as it is awe inspiring. We love the beauty of First Nations (as we say in Canada) or American Indian (as they say in the USA) art, and this does not disappoint. Intricate jewelry, bead work, drums, all authentic, all handmade, are on display.

We spent forever in there, just gazing at the beautiful works of art. The photo above is from their bead gallery, where you can go look at millions of gorgeous (some rare) beads and bead work.

That evening, we are filling the car up with gas and I notice something on the shelf I just have to show to Jake. I have never tasted it, but readers and twitter followers have extolled the virtues of this product to me many times. It's delicious! It's road trip tradition! No vacation is complete without it!

It's Kraft Easy Cheese.

For those of you who have never heard of Spray Cheese, as it's also called, I bring you a quote from Wikipedia,

"Easy Cheese is the trademark for a Processed cheese product distributed by Kraft Foods, also referred to as aerosol cheese or spray cheese. It comes packaged in a spray can, much like canned whipped cream and does not require refrigeration."

I pull a can off the shelf, shove it into Jake's hands and explain what it is. His face contorts in revulsion. You know how some kids react to the very thought of sushi? Or liver and onions? Vegetables?

Jake is outright horrified by Kraft Easy Cheese.

"You mean...what the hell is this stuff? People EAT it? And it's what..cheese FLAVORED? Why?"

"Well I guess it doesn't have to be cold so it's more convenient, plus remember how ours got frozen?" I grab the can back from him and look at the ingredients.

"But, if you can buy a block of kick ass pepper jack for only $2 and even though ours froze, it was okay. All you have to do is slice it up why the HELL would you buy THIS. ?!"

"I don't know Jake, why do people eat Cheez Whiz? Or cheese slices? You did once. Maybe it tastes good."

"Ew. That stuff is gross too. I just don't get it. Give me a nice piece of brie or cheddar any day. That? Is disgusting. It's not food."

I was fascinated by Jake's reaction. I've never taught Jake that Cheez Whiz and cheese slices aren't real cheese. For a time, I even bought them. He ate them briefly, and then saw the real, delicious cheese I was eating and asked to try it. Once he tasted delicious bits of brie, smoked gouda, havarti and the like, he never went back to processed. I have never bought processed cheese since, and so it has always gone in our house. Jake would fall in love with some processed food, usually through TV advertising (I HATE commercials aimed at kids) and I would challenge it by making my own, home made version. Everything from cookies to Lunchables, macaroni and cheese to soups, even butter chicken, it was a competition. Fortunately I often won out. Jake would try the processed food, tire of it quickly, and ask for something better.

That night while we pack up I take stock of what's left in our food stores. We have cereal, peanut butter, Ryvita crackers, cheese, grapes, bananas, bread, some wraps, and a few odds and ends. The granola has been a fantastic snack! Despite our overzealous fridge I picked up a few more veggies for wraps and we're off to Moab tomorrow with high temperatures and little refrigeration. How is THAT going to go? Will it be the same as Rapid City, and their love for beef and buffalo meats, or will things be different? Our family joke has been that in South Dakota, if you only eat chicken you're probably classified as a vegetarian.

This could get interesting.

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