A Dose of “Real”-ity

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Ok, this can only get me into trouble, discussing this subject in the hometown of two pizza giants, but I just can’t help myself.

This isn’t really about them. It’s about us. Having said that, I love pizza. Real pizza. And I use the word “love” as used in the phrase, “I love to breathe.” Maybe the word love isn’t strong enough?

As it happened, pizza “joints” were my first foray into the culinary world that I’ve spent most of my life working in. My early and late teens were spent “banging out pies” (as pizza junkies call them) in some rather good, albeit unknown joints.

This was back in the day when your neighborhood pizzeria made its own dough and sauces, cut its own toppings and blended its own cheeses. And the pizzas were literally “hand tossed”–like up in the air hand tossed–no screens, no pans. Pizzas right on the deck of the oven, with only cornmeal separating the dough from the hearth.

Say what you want, but those were REAL pizzas. Tasting WAS believing!

Pizzas are still made this way but not by the “chains.”

Having said that, I’ve never met a pizza I didn’t like, although I’d agree that some are MUCH better than others. And I certainly have my favorites, including the deep dish pizza Nino’s makes at our Clinton Township location. It’s fantastic!

My issue with pizza nowadays is pretty much my issue with the state of affairs of food or specifically “ingredients” that make up our foods…and exactly what is “real.”

You used to be able to count on real. Now, you have to look for it. If it doesn’t say “real,” it just may not be? “Real” seems to have become a premium (or at least we are expected to think so). “You want real? It’s gonna cost ya fella. Nobody gets “real” without us” (bragging about it). “You know we don’t “really” have to do this. This is a commitment, a promise, a trust.”

But…all of that aside, of all the ingredients that make up pizza, should I have to wonder about whether or not the cheese I’m eating is “Real?”

I say this only because I’m talking about pizza here. Mozzarella, brick cheese or maybe provolone–not Velvetta™or Cheez Whiz™ or wrapped singles. Not something that you’d expect was processed cheese, cheese food or cheese product.

I don’t know when it happened. I can’t put my finger on the year, the date, the time of day; it just happened. The obvious and expected became compromised, and somehow, Madison Avenue knew just how to make a buck off of it. “Real” became a “REAL” commodity.

Now just so you understand, we’re not necessarily talking quality, high quality, superior or supreme here. We’re just talking that the product is “real.” Has it gotten that bad? Has the public stopped expecting things to be “real?” I’m guessing so; otherwise it wouldn’t make any sense for it to be advertised?

Enough realism! What’s this REALLY all about?

I suppose it’s all about the “back to basics” approach that many Nino’s shoppers have always embraced and one of the many things about Nino’s that I’m so proud of. On any given shopping day, the largest percentage of our customers are always gathered in our fantastic produce, seafood, meat, dairy and deli departments, buying the raw ingredients that make up their families’ meals.

Now that’s real.

If real is YOUR thing, there are many publications and blogs that might inspire and enlighten you. Here’s one in which I am particularly interested.

100 Days of Real Food

Started by Lisa Leake in 2010, 100 Days of Real Food began with Lisa’s own curiosity and passion for understanding more about the food she was putting on her family’s table.

In the blog, she discusses topics like:

  • A list of rules (how we define “real food”) and why we think it’s important to cut out processed food.
  • Weekly updates during the original “100 Days of Real Food” pledge, which ended in September 2010.
  • Weekly updates during the second pledge “100 Days of Real Food on a Budget” ($125/week).
  • A list of “100 Days of Real Food Mini-Pledges” that guide you through 14 weekly steps for cutting out processed food.
  • A bunch of real food tips, which cover everything from common food label misconceptions to dealing with picky kids.
  • The “10 Days of Real Food” pledge, which was created for the blog readers…if we followed our rules for 100 days, then anyone can do it for only 10 days!
  • Week-long family meal plans that include breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner as well as coordinating grocery lists with pricing.
  • Over a hundred “real-food-approved,” kid-tested recipes and meal ideas.
  • All my favorite kitchen essentials, including just about every single appliance and gadget we own.
  • The About Us page, which shares a little more about our eating habits prior to starting the blog.

If you enjoy “real” like I do, check out Lisa’s website and her blog, and enjoy the passionate and informed opinions she brings to the table.

You’ll get the “real” scoop.