A boomer asks, what has happened to my food???

Times change. We get that. But when times change, sometimes words change too and we don’t get that! Neither does Leslie Handler, who lives near New York and writes for ZestNow and The Huffington Post. And today she writes for us about Food by Any Other Name!

I heard a commercial this morning advertising “live caught salmon.” Really? Is there a dead caught salmon? Would it be safe to eat it if the fish was already dead when caught? I’ve become a bit perplexed nowadays over the terms used to describe my food.

Wild salmon

Wild salmon as opposed to farm raised salmon.

Besides live caught salmon, I also can buy “fresh frozen” vegetables. So, are they fresh or are they frozen? Maybe they’re alive like the salmon, but they couldn’t decide.

Then, these days, they’ve been marking everything else “gluten free” — even things that would never have gluten in them anyway. It’s not like “gluten free” is a healthy alternative. It really matters mainly to people who have Celiac disease and can’t digest gluten. These food companies are trying to make me believe that I’m better off if I buy something gluten free.

Food that contains gluten.

Seems like much of the popular food contains gluten.

For years of course they’ve offered “new and improved.” Does that mean the old one was bad?

Then they try to use fancy words to describe my food. Words like “infused” and “encrusted.” I think they can charge more if they use these words as opposed to old-fashioned phrases like “added flavorings” and “breaded.”

New England lobster roll with homemade potato chips cooked in fine oils.

New England lobster roll with homemade potato chips cooked in fine oils.

If I want a sandwich, they no longer tell me that it comes with fries. Now they tell me that I get a sandwich “nestled” with potatoes removed from a bath of fine oils. I can also order the sandwich “accompanied” by potato chips. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to eat my potato chips unescorted. Of course they no longer ask if I want white, wheat, or rye. Now they want to know which type of “artisan” bread I want. After chef school, do the new chefs have internships with various artists? Do they sign and number the bread? Should I eat it or hang it on my wall?

Writer Leslie Handler.

Writer Leslie Handler.

I always thought that a “medley” was a musical composition, but apparently that’s a very old-fashioned way to think about a medley. Today, the word is more commonly used to mean a mixture of items, such as “a medley of vegetables.”

Good news though, dessert no longer has calories because they no longer serve it. Now, you “finish” with a flourless cake. And now I’m “finished” complaining about why I can’t order a fresh fish sandwich on wheat with chips and fruit for dessert. If that’s what I want, I need to know enough to order fresh frozen live caught salmon nestled on artisan bread accompanied by chips and finished with a medley of berries.

So let me say to you in the best old-fashioned English I know: Bon Appetit!



  1. The real question about what happened to our food has to do with how it was raised, what it ate, the quality of our soil, etc. The descriptions we now get are marketing, though some are informational. For instance, I’m GF, not because I have Celiac, but because I’m very sensitive to it — so, it does matter. You wouldn’t believe what items could have gluten in it, including some ice cream. It’s bizarre, I know. But, as for the other descriptions, it might say something about the quality of the restaurant. If a so-called Italian restaurant has “spaghetti and meatballs” on the menu, then I’m not interested. Some chefs don’t just cook food, they create delectably delicious art. I do study how a menu is written to gauge whether it’s where I want to go. It’s marketing!

  2. I recently saw an ad for fish that was “flown direct” without saying from where. I didn’t buy the fish but I was impressed that the fish didn’t have to make a connecting flight.

  3. Thanks for the comment Kim. I totally understand what you are saying. However, marketing sometimes doesn’t mean the product is any better at all. It’s simply more expensive because I had to pay for all their marketing. As an example, take a look at over the counter medications. If I buy an over the counter sleep aide it costs three times what a container of Benadryl costs; however, the ingredients are exactly the same and in the same amount.

    1. Following the form of that great author and lover of food,Gertrude Stein–Marketing is marketing is marketing.

  4. I personally have a pet peeve you mentioned: “New and Improved”. What?! Either it’s new, or it’s the old one that’s been improved. If you’ve improved it, it’s not the new one anymore, it’s the last version and you fixed something!

  5. The Age of Euphemisms, I believe, began just after World War 2 with the creation of the title “Department of Defense” for what began life as the War Department. Perhaps our country learned how to do it from the Nazi propaganda machine (remember, propaganda=bad, marketing=good). When I first arrived in Southern California in the late 90’s, I was amazed at the euphemistic marketing that permeated everyday life. On my first morning at my new office, I approached a coffee vendor, one of those guys in flip-flops, Bermuda shorts, and a Polo shirt pushing a festooned cart, to get a cup of black coffee. I visually searched his sign for the price of a cup of coffee. I could not find “cup of coffee” listed anywhere. So I asked “do you have regular coffee?” He answered, with the enthusiasm of a cheer leader, “well, not exactly, but how about a fresh almond mocha surprise?!” I turned around and walked away to find a Circle K store.

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