Friday, February 13, 2009

Air Travel

My flight for Phoenix leaves at 7:55 tomorrow morning.  Fortunately, I live just five minutes from the airport.  But I know myself well enough to know that I won't be waking up any earlier than I have to, which means no breakfast before I reach the dreaded airport. 

Normally, this wouldn't be much of a problem, but I started thinking yesterday about the limiting culinary options available in airports, about the new and asinine policies created by wayward airlines: six bucks for a sub-par sandwich en-route, unless you happen to be part of the first-class elite. 

What does a person who is trying not to eat white flour, processed foods, or refined sugar do when stuck at an airport and faced with a day's worth of travel?

My old fallback plan used to include Dunkin' Donuts and American cheese, neither of which I'm keen on putting in my body these days.  I'm thinking I'll be lucky to find a piece of fruit that hasn't been mauled in the shipping process. 

Seriously.  This is the great American crisis.  Go to Italy and you'll find airports stocked with fresh pasta and veggies.  Even London, the holy grail of mayonnaise and butter, puts more effort into their commuter cuisine than we roly poly Americans do.  We have unhealthy diets, made worse by the constant and unrelenting availability of unhealthy options at places where we have no choice but to partake.  Nutritionists always say that it is a choice, that when you're in an unhealthy restaurant you can still choose the healthiest option.  But let's be honest: ordering a wilted salad at Burger King will not fill you up and it will not make you a healthier human.  

We are a fat and dying country, afflicted with diseases of the poor even as we count ourselves among the very richest nations.  We are addicted to sugar and flour, coerced by saturated fats and processed meats.  The slow food movement is no longer nascent, born in the 1970s when Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse, but middle America still has no option when immediacy wins out.  

I know this.  I live in New York.  No one ever has enough "time."  I can't tell you how many people tell me that they would cook for themselves, but they don't have enough time.  They would eat more vegetables, but they don't have "time" to prepare them.  They order take-out because it's so "time" efficient.  It might be the greatest American myth, that to eat well one needs to be unemployed or a stay-at-home parent.  

People in airports are a captive audience: they will eat what you give them.  If there were fruit stands, or produce stands, or a man selling fresh sushi (and I mean fresh sushi, and not those disgusting pre-packaged California rolls they sell at the grocery store) instead of--or at least in addition to--the Sbarro's and McDonald's of the world, people would eat better.  They just would.  I love French Fries as much as the next girl, but if I were in an airport with fresh plums, I'd eat them instead.  I just would.  It's a combination of making good choices and having good options available.  

As for tomorrow, who knows what the future holds.  I'll be lucky to find a decent banana for breakfast, something to carry me over until the captivity of the plane and the bad/expensive sandwiches that will almost certainly follow.  Maybe someday we'll take food more seriously, like the Italians do.  Fresh pasta for breakfast is something I can stand behind.  

1 comment:

ramster said...

you need to bring stuff. apple wedges, carrot sticks, raw almonds and cashews. a hard boiled egg?

the thing that bothers me more than the lousy food available is that you cant bring water through TSA. I have been forced to chugalug 3 pints of poland spring in the xray line, or try to smuggle them trough in my carry on.