A Simpleton’s Food Dilemma

Do you enjoy food? Do enjoy delicious food? Of course you do. Who doesn’t?

But the question is “What is Delicious food?” The traditional definition of the word delicious, in this context, refers to taste of the food. Taste, for the most part, originates from our early age. That is why the proverbial “Mother’s recipe” is considered special. The phrase doesn’t particularly refer to moms who are skilled with a spatula but its an endorsement to the fact that the tastes we encounter at our young ages tend to shape the way we set our food preferences for most of our life. There are other reasons why we have the emotional connection with home food, including the smell, ambiance and company at our house which is usually unique. As we grow older, and possibly weirder, we build more food and taste preferences on top our default ‘home setting’ and by the time we reach the age of reason, our cravings include a whole range of savoriness that can easily fill out the menu book at an Applebee’s.

But what about the converts? Many people change their feeding habits a few times during their life. Meat eaters become vegetarians and vice-versa, vegetarians become vegans, vegans move on to some kind of lentil and soy based diet and then some finish the circle by eating meat again. Mostly these changes tend to be short lived, but in some cases they are long lasting. For all intentions and purposes, these vegetarian/vegan/lentil-based foods tend to be much healthier compared to the predominantly meat and corn syrup based diet. More often than not these healthy food advocates assert that they don’t miss the taste of whatever they were eating before their new diet. Some say, in certain cases, that the newer food is even better. And that is where my dilemma comes from. Do I accept that something is tasty because its healthy or do I know something is tasty by actually eating and liking it, irrespective of the food’s health benefits?

I have been an ardent fan of cake my entire life. There are very few things that I prefer more than cake and none of them are food items. I have had a cake as all three meals of the day, and I have also had cakes for an entire week. I even love to say the word cake. Cake, Cake, Cake. And yes, I know all cakes are bad for your health, at least the best tasting ones. I can’t imagine anything that is not a cake and taste better or even taste similar to a cake. Not surprisingly, most of the things I like and, it turns out many other people like them too, fall very much in the “Unhealthy” category. And, mind you, I am not someone who goes on binge eating contests with myself or someone who spends most of the time in the donuts section at the grocery store. I am well within normal weight and body mass index for a guy of my age and I very rarely fluctuate in those readings. And here is my dilemma – Can I eat cake my entire life and still remain in the realm of general healthiness?

Unless I forgot the taste of a cake, I would never mistake a piece of broccoli for a cake. Also, I have never tasted a vegetable that even remotely tasted like a fried Tilapia or a barbaque turkey. On any given day a chicken tikka leg would kick a block of tofu’s ass. But then there is the health argument. It is true, unfortunately, that most meat products are processed, enhanced with chemicals and in many cases, even if the package says so, not organic. One is more likely to get lead or mercury poisoning from meat than from a pack of peas and cabbage. I don’t want to eat food that I don’t like, but also I don’t want to, you know, get sick and die.

Is that too much to ask? Do we have to choose between health and taste? Can we not just eat stuff we like, moderately of course, and then work out enough to get rid of the bad stuff in them? Or can we genetically modify plants to produce fishes and turkey legs. How about cakes that grow from seeds? All I ever wanted was to experience happiness and, as far as I know, there can be no happiness without a piece of cake.

What is your take on this? Do you think health is more important and taste is only an added benefit? Or do you believe my personal mantra- “If its tasty, then its healthy“.

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