Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Soylent Green Is.........Spam?

With food shortages ongoing globally, and with some areas of the planet in such dire straights that actual food riots have taken place, it seems almost comical in a sense to see the reports in the U.S. media of families having to resort to feeding their families Spam several times a month.

Ah Spam! The gelatinous gooey mass of some form of pork that we were all forced to eat as children. Our parents told us that it was good for us, and we spit it out when they weren't looking. As we grew older, we came to realize that our parents were in the unenviable position of having to figure out how to put meat on the family table, and Spam offered a cheap alternative to more traditional forms of food. We vowed that we would never eat the stuff ever again for as long as we both (the Spam and us) lived.

Made of mostly pork shoulder (One shudders to think of what the other part of mostly means), sugar, salt, water and potato starch, the much aligned food stuff is actually considered a delicacy in some Asian countries, and even Stalin credited Spam with saving Russia from defeat during World War 2 by enabling him to feed his army.

Coming full circle from the times of our childhoods, where we swore off of the Spam and entered adulthood where we could afford regular ham, the economic disaster that has been thrust upon us by the greediest pig corporations in world history has brought the notion that Spam isn't so bad crashing back into the American kitchen.

No longer able to afford to eat regular food, many American families are turning to alternatives such as Ramen noodles and Spam to stretch the food budgets and not let their children go hungry. When a shopper is in the grocery store and looks at the price of beef hovering at $7.00 per pound, but right there on the shelf is a big fat can of Spam for $2.75, well, the Beef Wellington will just have to wait.

Remembering the 1970's movie starring Charleston Heston entitled Soylent Green, one can be struck at the almost prophetic nature of the film. It deals with a situation wherein the world finds itself in a food shortage crisis, and must resort to feeding people crackers called Soylent Green which is made from the bodies of the dead. While not trying to say that Spam is made from the same organic matter, could one not draw a parallel between the current escalating crisis and the all of a sudden 12.4 per cent spike in Hormel's (Spam's makers) profits?

With the demand for traditional staples such as corn and sugar going through the roof due to demands for ethanol, and with other staples like wheat, rice, bacon, and even peanut butter rising beyond the reach of average working class Americans, alternatives such as Spam are beginning to seem much more palatable than ever before. But at what price?

Despite the claims made by Marcia Mogelonsky, senior research analyst with Mintel International in Chicago that Spam is a good source of protein and has significant nutritional value, all one has to do is read the side of the can to put that whopper to the test. Here's Spam's nutritional content:

Calories Per Serving: 170
Calories Per Serving From Fat: 140
Serving Size: 2 oz.
Servings Per Container: 6 (large) or 3.5 (small)
Total Fat: 16g
Saturated Fat: 6g
Cholesterol: 40mg
Sodium: 750mg
Total Carbohydrates: 0g
Fiber: 0g
Sugars: 0g
Proteins: 7g
Vitamin A: 0%
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium: 0%
Iron: 2%

Tons of fat and cholesterol, but if one is starving, what else is one to do?

It just seems so sad that in this day and age of untold and unimaginable wealth being consolidated by just a comparatively few people the entire world over, and the multi national corporations taking what's left, that the generation that was supposed to be better off than the one before, and was for a little while, has to now resort to making food stuffs such as Spam a household staple in order to survive. With farm fields going to waste instead of growing food, due to government handouts to farmers not to grow, it would seem that the answer to the current and escalating food crisis is right in front of our faces. But no one in Congress would ever dream of even talking about ending corporate agri-subsidies, or opening up that land to raise more cattle, chickens and pigs to feed our nation properly.

See, here's the little problem with the media hyping Spam as the alternative meat and people falling back to sleep, content that there's something to eat at least. What happens when the supply starts to dwindle, the price of Spam becomes the same as everything else, and even food stuffs like Ramen noodles start to go out of reach for the average consumer? What will the new Soylent Green become then? While you ponder that notion, rip the top off of that can of Spam, pop it onto a plate and use a butter knife to scrape away that slimy stuff covering it. It should be ok after that, but no one really can vouch for what you're actually eating. Enjoy.

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