Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Badvertsing: Swanson's Garlic Chicken Skillet Ain't Home Cooking

"It looks like home cooking.
It tastes like home cooking.
Because it's just like home cooking

It's called "cookwashing" - where the food industry has hoodwinked us into believing that mixing and stirring packets together constitutes "home cooking".

So is Swanson's Garlic Chicken Skillet really like home cooking?

Sure if you normally would add a near literal teaspoon of salt and a dollop of trans-fat to a skillet meal of chicken, vegetables and pasta. Maybe too if these are the ingredients you'd likely be cooking with,
"Vegetables: Broccoli, Carrots, Corn. Pasta With Garlic Sauce: Cooked Enriched Pasta, Vegetable Oil (Soy And Coconut Oils And/Or Hydrogenated Soybean Oils), Sweet Cream Powder (Cream, Skim Milk, Soy Lecithin), Skim Milk, Salt, Seasoning (Garlic Powder, Enriched Flour, Parsley, Sugar, Hydrolyzed Milk Protein, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural And Artificial Flavour, Spice), Natural Flavour. Grilled Diced Chicken Breast Coated With Seasoning: Chicken, Water, Isolated Soy Protein, Seasoning (Sugar, Garlic, Dehydrated Romano Cheese (Milk, Bacterial Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Dehydrated Onion), Salt, Sodium Phosphates, Natural Flavour. Coating: Corn Flour, Wheat Flour, Salt, Corn Starch, Spices, Paprika, Maltodextrin, Caramel Colour, Defatted Soy Flour, Sodium Alginate, Baking Powder, Extractives Of Paprika. Contains: Milk, Soy, Wheat."
While I've certainly come across far worse processed meals than this one, home cooking it's definitely not, while the suggestion that it is, that's simultaneously the food industry's most seductive and destructive lie.

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  1. Ha! I remember taking "gourmet cuisine" class in high school. You weren't supposed to take it unless you had "cooking experience". While a couple things were made from actual ingredients, many things were "take one package pre-made pastry and one can pie filling...

  2. Willem6:44 am

    That's a lot of ingredients that I don't have at home..... (that's usually a hint)

  3. Yuck, that's a dish that can easily be made at home too.

    I gave up most boxes and bottles in favor of actually cutting and/or cooking fresh food. I'm not perfect--a couple of my recipes call for pre-made sauces and dressings, but overall there is much less processed food being eaten in our home.

    The real home-cooked meals are superior in taste and texture. They also don't take up too much more time with a little practice in the kitchen. "Meals in a bag" just taste like a whole lot of salt now.

    1. i agree most pre-prepared "just heat and eat" food is way too salty. We spent a month in Buenos Aries and discovered that the USA is a salt; sugar addicted nation. Hardly anything there to buy "heat and eat". The flavors of everything was so much better cuz you could actually taste the food, not the added ingredients.

  4. Anonymous7:35 am

    Hang on, I'm a lazy student who can burn water and I can make chicken, vegetables, pasta, and a sauce. Heck, even if you use a jar.

    There's convenience and then there's weird laziness (perhaps because of a perception that cooking is hard?)

    1. We're in the minority. I'm a student, and honestly, I know people who couldn't boil an egg if their lives depended on it. And what's quicker than a 5 minute egg?!

  5. That would take fifteen minutes to make from scratch. Ingredients: pasta, carrots, broccoli, corn, onions, leftover roast chicken or raw chicken pieces, olive oil, grated cheese, fresh or dried herbs, salt and pepper. Done. If you don't keep the fresh veggie on hand, use frozen. Why would anyone feel the need to buy that? I don't get it.

    I mean, I give less of a shit than you do about boxes and packets, but seriously, it would be a waste of money and it wouldn't taste half as good.

  6. I used those types of meals when our house was for sale and I didn't want to mess up the kitchen, didn't want to get take out for dinner, and everyone was sick of eating sandwiches. Hey, it's hard keeping a house staged when you've got young kids who are determined to de-stage!

    They were OK. Very salty, though.

  7. Anonymous9:19 am

    I don’t think any home cook would add MSG to his cooking and this one is full of it (autolyzed yeast extract ) and there is nothing natural in natural flavouring. i would rather have plein pasta with a nob of real butter than any thing that came out of a box. people should stop fooling them selfs, thinking that this save time but for sure it will not save your health

  8. Ridiculous! Earlier this week, I made shrimp with whole wheat penne in rose sauce - this recipe literally takes 15 minutes, and I make it even easier by using passata instead of the mixture of fresh tomatoes and marinara (less chopping) and pre-cooked frozen shrimp. Voila - dinner on table and it's delicious and wholesome.

  9. Gotta love how "Salt" appears four times in the ingredient list, plus one entry for "sodium phosphates." Maybe if you bang your head against the stove each time you read the word salt, you'll knock yourself unconscious before you overload yourself with sodium... although I'm guessing both approaches could be equally detrimental to your blood pressure :/

  10. I hate to admit it, but that picture looks delicious. Probably isn't their actual product though, haha. Seems a little silly given you could whip that up in 15 or 20 mins!