On The Bonnie Hunt Show last week they were promoting a documentary about American food production. It reminded me about how our food is mass produced and has been for many years. Everything is produced to fill the market quickly with reasonably priced food products. I know that the meat, poultry, and many other foods served in this community were put together in a factory. We do not know what is in them for sure, or what these foods are doing to us physically. Nursing homes buy these mass produced food items because they are convenient and less expensive.
But when I eat these foods, I cringe because I know they are high in sodium. The turkey for sandwiches is more like lunchmeat than real turkey.
Presently, we only get breaded fish. We hear that the residents prefer it that way. But the fish's breading is usually tough and tastes like baking powder or baking soda. I miss the tender, delicate taste of a lightly seasoned, baked fish filet.
Friends and family tell me about the free range chickens and organic vegetables that they eat. They rave about the difference in the flavor. The foods they have brought me are quite tasty and I certainly wish I could have them more often.
When I was in a nursing home for respite care in 1989, most of the meat, chicken, and fish were manufactured into breaded patties. I was 29 and I could hardly eat them. I thought it was terrible that those residents would eat them for the rest of their lives. The patties were a little like school cafeteria food, but I think our cafeteria's were better.
Institutional food is definitely different, but I do not think it has to be. The baby boomers and younger residents want the foods they like. The majority of younger residents eat more than their older counterparts. They are not content with the approximately 2000 calorie-a-day diet. Many say that that is not enough food to fill them up.
Boomers will feel differently about nursing home food. Some may be junk food junkies—those who will not quibble about what they eat as long as there is enough of it. But some boomers will care about the quality of the food. They may complain that mass produced entrées are tasteless, and they will know from experience that it is not as healthy as freshly made food.
Maybe nursing homes need to find a way to use less meat. If they are not buying what is being produced, less will be produced. In the 50s we did not eat nearly as much meat and other foods as we do now. We can cut our consumption, get better food, and get our weight down all at the same time.