Sunday, August 28, 2011

On the Possibilities and Impossibilities of Food Technology

A longish travel under the indifferent rains inevitably led us to talk about pristine topics such as childhood recollections. My share of story concerned my grade school years, when food from the school canteen were rationed to our room so that we have a choice of buying and not going out of the room during recess time.

The food delivered to us was composed mostly of different rice delicacies, mga kakanin, and the ubiquitous soup placed in green plastic cups. The soup cost 1 peso and I always made it a point to buy one. When I had to go out during the break time, I often went to the other school gate to buy cheese bread (for 1 peso) and palamig (again, for 1 peso). Needless to say, my daily allowance at school was 2 pesos since I walked to school everyday and I went back home for lunch.

Such recollections created the question of: Is room-to-room delivery still done today? I answered in the negative. What I thought was with the coming of new technology, of new techniques to manufacture what they (companies and advertisements) claim as “nutritious and safe” food, modern-day parents most of the time would choose to prepare pre-packaged (that is, factory-made) food for the children. I wonder if parents of modest earnings give their children bananaque or puto as baon. I think they are just relegated to the level of snacks, as pamatay-gutom. I jested that children probably prefer nuggets because they could form their names with them. That activity cannot be done with a banana-que or a camote-que.

The discouragement in the choice of home-made food sold (or prepared) for children springs from that thinking that pre-packaged food is cleaner. Hygiene has been observed in their preparation. The irony is highlighted with the fact that these cleaner foods are oftentimes loaded with preservatives (let us not deny this) enough to preserve our bodies when we die.

The choice between home-made food and pre-packaged food is an everyday food battle. This is true for children and adults alike.

But in the end, the choice is up to the individual. To fall or not to fall in the delusion of safety and nutrition, that is the question.

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