Lessons learned from a basket of peaches, a bag of milk and fast food

COLUMN: Draw the line at too much of a good thing

Every fall I find my mind wandering from fresh fruit to carbohydrates to prepare my body for a cold winter. This year, my joyful obsession is starting early with the unseasonable temperatures and a not so peachy experience, though my enthusiasm has been “fried” by recent advertising.

This is a story of peaches, milk, and new fast food extremes.

I recently purchased a beautiful basket of Ontario peaches. They were not small hard rocks of fruit that still required weeks of ripening, nor were they past their prime, all bruised and mushy. They were quite perfect.

I happily took home my prize Ontario produce, looking forward to a beautiful bite of a peach whose juice would run down my chin.
The next day, I woke up dreaming of sliced peaches on a bowl of cereal. I was greeted in the kitchen by something totally different than expected: fruit flies were swarming the place.

My beautiful basket of peaches somehow had turned overnight–like a relationship gone bad without warning. I had not mistreated the peaches; nor told them lies saying they were to be turned into a pie when I had no such intention.

I was shocked as the end of the peaches was so swift and so unexpected. But to keep it in context it was just a basket of peaches. Nonetheless, it was a good lesson on permanence (and the lack thereof), of not saving everything for a rainy day, and of cherishing things while you have them. Yes–all this from a basket of peaches.

Back to the grocery store, this time the A&P. I picked up an expired package of milk by mistake. I noticed it before I reached the cash register, so I went to the customer service counter to get a credit for the milk.

Some of you may remember the advertising for the “It’s fresh or it’s free” program at the store. It was launched with much fanfare. It was the reason I started to shop A&P.

I have received reductions on grapes through the program (offered by the cashiers when they noticed some were mushy in the bag) and I have received free milk before. My experience at customer service was different this time. I was curtly told that the policy no longer existed.

My first thought was that I didn’t remember seeing the ad campaign publicly retracting their promise to the public. The hurt of not being told reminded me of my failed peach relationship as well, only much more calculated. I was further shocked as they told me that the program has been over for almost a year. Clearly, I didn’t take advantage of the program much–but some must have, or it wouldn’t have been retracted?

They took my expired milk and I left with the remainder of my groceries, feeling slightly annoyed. I went home to kill fruit flies and further contemplate food and my relationship with it.

There is no doubt that I love food. There is no doubt that even though I was hurt by my last basket of peaches, I will trust future baskets. There is no doubt that I will miss tomatoes as they turn into somewhat crispy/grainy substitutes of the fruit over the winter. There is no doubt that carbs are calling me.

Pasta and pizza are looking better daily, but not so much that I am not questioning the latest Domino’s Pizza ads. If you haven’t seen them, it seems that you can order a pasta bread bowl and get a free lava cake.

I like pasta. I like bread bowls (but they are usually paired with a San Franciscan clam chowder or healthy chili). However, the combination of pasta served up in a bread bowl is carb crazy.

A quick peek at the nutritional information on Domino’s website shows that HALF a chicken carbonara bread bowl has 740 calories, and 28 grams of fat (12 grams saturated). Add a free lava cake at 357 calories and 17 grams of fat (10 grams saturated) and now I’m thinking that Domino’s is actually working for pro-obesity lobbyists.

Boneless wings are also being advertised quite extensively by Wendy’s lately. I have never seen a chicken without wing bones, nor do I want to (though I suddenly can’t help thinking of the old Far Side cartoon of a boneless chicken farm with lumpy chickens lying on the ground.)

We have to draw the line somewhere, otherwise we will all mutate into slow, large, sloth-like creatures with chairs permanently stuck to our butts.

Even if the milk is expired or the peaches turn too quickly, don’t give up on preparing your own healthy food. Back away from the boneless wings, pasta-filled bread bowls and lava cakes.

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