I recently had a conference call during which I learned a certain grocery store chain plans to offer a program to rate the contents of your shopping basket, much like your mother might if she combed through your crumpled receipts.
I suspect many of us have an internal dialogue about what we eat that we turn up or down like a transistor radio. But perhaps some people hope to go home and review a computer printout of their food purchases like it is a naughty or nice list from the North Pole.
A program like this brings up many questions. It so happens—for me—I only go to this particular grocer for two very specific things: turkey subs and hot dogs. At my most recent trip, I was also lured into buying some canned beer from their liquor store warehouse.
So it is pretty clear my report card would not be one to post on the fridge.
At a recent dinner at the Rosebud, I debated this idea with a good friend of mine over negronis and fried vegetables. It was the kind of conversation you can have with someone you have known for nearly two decades. She pointed out a way to scam the system by paying cash for your undesirables. I had not even thought of this, but it was a fast reminder as to why we are still friends.
It is ultimately sad that we need a computer to help decide if what we are buying is “good.” But I get it. Marketing is powerful, and confusing, and many people find food labels to be like hieroglyphics.
Plus we are very busy and easily distracted by cookies.
But the food choices we make are also very complex. I shop at four different spots to get what I need—and reasons for this vary from nutrition and sustainability to emotion and taste.
All are valid. And hard to judge in isolation, whether you are a machine or a human.
Take the ingredients to make this ice cream. Fresh mint and matcha tea might make Dr. Weilhappy. But flavonols in the tea may be blunted by the addition of dairy. Not to mention the matcha food miles. Plus the mint is not actually even eaten.
The dark chocolate is 70% cocoa, but is that enough? (Probably not.) But it was produced locally and this allows me to implicate an unsuspecting factory in Somerville, Massachusetts in the post-rationalization of my cravings.
And swapping brown rice syrup in place of the corn variety seems better, but is it once you consider the arsenic risk?
All this aside, no one eats ice cream for its health benefits. The ingredients, however, do make a very satisfying iced dessert. It is smooth, bright, and grassy, with slight bursts of bitter chocolate. I originally added the matcha for shallow reasons (namely to impart a light green hue). But it also contributes a vegetal note that plays very well with the mint and dark chocolate. A computer is not going to know this. At least not yet.
So here is a little secret. A way to simplify things. Eight out of ten of us do not eat enough fruit and vegetables. This is not a metric that makes people very healthy. It turns out broccoli does not have a sexy marketing campaign, either. (Though it should.)
But if you aim to eat more plants maybe, just maybe, you might have a little bargaining room for ice cream every now and again too.
Matcha Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
- 2 cups whole milk, divided
- 1¼ cups heavy cream
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
- ½ tsp matcha green tea powder
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water