Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Well, damn.

Yesterday, I got a per diem reimbursement check for a trip I took for work about a month ago.

So, naturally, I went grocery shopping.

It's been a financially tight couple of weeks, so I've been working away at the apocalypse stash in my pantry.  It's been one of those weeks when I grudgingly take up the Kraft mac & cheese, canned/dried soups, and other miscellaneous food-esque items in my pantry, from which I turn away in disdain when my fridge and fruit basket are fully stocked.  I've treated myself to a couple of Taco Bell bean burritos (veggies and vegans rejoice, Taco Bell refried beans are totally animal-product-free... and those perfect portion burritos are only $0.99!), but other than that, it's been an exercise of creative meal planning (I use the word "meal" loosely here).

So, I went to Safeway (Sorry, farmer's market.  Impulse grocery shopping), and between picking up the cheese and the veggies and the juice, I came across their fresh(ish) soups.

One side effect of my vegetarianism has been cooking a lot more things from scratch, or close to it.  I never wanted to stop eating meat and start subsisting on aforementioned bunker diet.  However, like so many of my peers, I'm a busy girl, and I need that "long day" stash.  

So, refrigerated soups.  It seemed like the perfect merging of fresh and prepared.  I grabbed one (sweet corn chowder), checked the ingredients for hidden bacon bits and chicken broth, and tossed it in my basket.  I saw the price (SALE! 2 for $5!), and grabbed another (tomato basil bisque).

I finished up my shopping with that spring in my step that only comes between the famine and imminent feast, lightly swinging my basket and almost humming to myself as a character somewhere between Mary Tyler Moore and Little Red Riding Hood. 

Today I got home, freed my sore feet of business casual shoes, and cracked open the fridge to be greeted by those soups.  

Tomato basil bisque.  Perfect.  You'll be delicious with the baguette and shredded mozz I also adopted yesterday.

As my soup is warming, my bread is toasting, and my mouth is salivating, I glance at the ingredients.  What's the very first listed?

Chicken broth.

Ok.  Now what.  I bought it.  I already promoted the production of this product.  And it's already opened and half in my microwave; I can't return it.

So I ate it.

I am perplexed by the insistence on chicken broth as the base of virtually every commercial soup.  Vegetable broth is just as good, and I don't know of any segment of the population who is making a serious ideal- or health-based choice to stop eating vegetables.

Why chicken broth in a soup that otherwise depends on veggies for flavor and identity?  Come on, Safeway.  There's something wrong about making a hearty vegetable soup and slipping in meat juice.  Like you're hiding the peas in my mashed potatoes, only I am morally opposed to peas.

And does this make me a traitor?  Does this negate the last few months of abstaining from meat?  Just last week, I wrote about my meatless months.  Even more recently, I was talking to a friend about the trial run of meat-free living he is taking and how happy I am with the past few months.


As I try to remind myself in all areas of life: we are not perfect, but we do our best.

And now we read our pre-prepared food labels more carefully.

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