Last week's Mark Bittman "Opinionator" column in the New York Times contained a fantastic idea for changing the way people eat and it comes down to the ever-popular "hit them in the wallet." The current system in Canada and the U.S. (and Europe, to a certain extent) is to heavily-subsidize things like corn and soybeans so that these popular animal feeds are very cheap and can be turned into very cheap meat. At the same time, a lot of that corn is turned into High Fructose Corn Syrup to sweeten everything from soda pop to fruit juice to donuts. So everybody can have their Triple Cheeseburgers, Fatty Fries and Super Extra Value Gallon Soda drinks for $3.99.
What kind of brain-dead government thought this up? This had all the makings of a health-care crisis from the get-go. Of course, the story of how that all began would indeed take us down the rabbit hole, so suffice it to say it involves very effective lobbyists. Back to today, Mark Bittman's brilliant idea is to add a tax to all these unhealthy foods, both to generate additional revenue and to discourage their consumption:
"Simply put: taxes would reduce consumption of unhealthful foods and generate billions of dollars annually. That money could be used to subsidize the purchase of staple foods like seasonal greens, vegetables, whole grains, dried legumes and fruit."
That's brilliant! Hit them in the wallet on the side of what's unhealthy for them and entice them with affordability and wider availability on the side of what's the healthiest. Because, as the Toronto Star recently pointed out, we shouldn't be drinking calories anyway. They listed not doing it as one of their Top Three Things we could do to turn our health around. Avoid sweetened beverages (even unsweetened bottled fruit juices contain as much sugar as a can of pop), move around a lot and eat beans everyday. That is my kind of program.
This week's recipe is 100% free of both meat and high-fructose corn syrup, but also, due to scattered brain and bad planning, free of beans. I'll get you another time with a bean recipe--you know I will. Nasi Goreng is an Indonesian recipe/term which means "fried rice." But if I called it that you would probably think I was running out of ideas, because who doesn't know how to do fried rice? This is so far from ordinary you'll think you jumped on a plane and flew to Jakarta to buy this from a street vendor. Enjoy your trip!
P.S. If you happen to be in Toronto on August 10th, head downtown to Yonge and Dundas to sample all kinds of great meatless products for free and enjoy all the festivities.