Little Girls with a Cod

The Whole(some) Enchilada?

Linn Steward, AuthorMy great grandmother would be flabbergasted if she could see what I had for dinner last night. She was born in Maine, ate cod fish cakes, baked beans, meat, and potatoes. Mexican food (like the enchilada below) was as foreign to her as salt cod is to me.

Moreover my great great grandmother might actually have appreciated the convenience of dinner in 45 minutes although unfamiliar ingredient like tortillas and black beans might take her some time to adjust to.

An Industrial Formulation

Amy's EnchiladaThis enchilada dinner is clearly an industrial formulation. How do I know? Because this dinner is my fall back when life conspires and I don’t have time to shop or cook. I’ve taken the short cut enough times to know the product will taste exactly the same every single time.

Checking the label, you’ll find there are 65 words, 20 ingredients, and the word organic appears 16 times. One could quibble about expeller expressed canola oil because it’s still an RBD (Refined, Blanched, Deodorized) seed oil. Or prefer flour to the more refined tapioca starch. But as an example of a well written clean label, I think it’s an exemplary example with no dirty little secrets that I can find. So I’ll say, in all due respect to Michael Pollan, 20 ingredients instead of 5 works okay for me.

Balanced, Moderate, and Convenient

Nutrients are balanced with moderate levels of sodium and respectable amounts of fiber and protein. So again, in all due respect, it’s possible at least in my opinion to use the tools of modern food technology to make an enchilada with some whole food (black beans, corn kernels, tortilla) and balanced nutrition. Will everyone agree that home made enchiladas taste better? I don’t know. I am pretty sure, however, that many folks would be unwilling to spend time & trouble to make this Mexican standby at home.

Today’s guest post comes from Linn Steward, who is a culinary nutritionist and experienced recipe analyst. Years of experience have taught her that food is very much more than the sum of its nutrient parts.

Editor’s note: Steward’s post offers an illustration of how food and food products can defy easy generalizations about what is wholesome and what is not. It is neither an endorsement nor a product placement. Simply something we found well worth reading.

Little Girls with a Cod, painting by Anna Ancher / WikiArt

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October 4, 2021

One Response to “The Whole(some) Enchilada?”

  1. October 04, 2021 at 8:55 am, Mary-Jo said:

    A clear illustration of why it is SO difficult to make the processed vs. unprocessed foods and their connection to health, body fat, body weight, obesity, other diseases, a black or white issue. For example, dishes and meals with foods made from scratch with all unprocessed, farm-fresh items, can be not ‘health-promoting’ if too much consumed than needed, if one becomes obsessed about ONLY eating certain items resulting in stress and misery for themselves and those around.