Friday, July 10, 2009


Last night up here in The Berkshires, after spending the afternoon with my oldest child—my daughter—and her daughter and my eleven-year-old and my older son's little boy, and a beautiful afternoon it was, took the boys after dinner for ice cream at SoCo, the local homemade ice cream store I never miss when I'm here.

I've never been a big fan of pastries or cake (except for pumpkin pie and angel food cake, preferably with strawberries or some kind of fruit) or candy (except for dark chocolate), but ice cream has always sustained me.

My favorite ice cream for the past several years has been SoCo. Especially their special flavors like pumpkin and ginger. Last night I had a sugar cone topped with one scoop of Earl Gray with Honey flavored ice cream. A total taste delight.

The night before, we had all gone out to a roller skating rink in New York State that had a skateboard park in it too, which the boys mostly stayed in. I actually roller skated (old style skates) for a couple of hours. Not quite as disco dancing style as my older boy was doing or the boogieing dance moves my daughter was pulling off, but more like old guy's body trying to sense memory its way back into halfway feeling comfortable and confident in crossing feet on the turns etc.

Before we got there we stopped for soft ice cream at a roadside stand and I got a small one (out of three sizes, small, medium and large) and what they gave me was about twice the size of what used to be considered an ordinary cone with soft ice cream in it.

Which got me thinking about all the obesity and waste in this country and how simple it would be if we just dialed back to the standard sizes of my youth when an ice cream cone meant one scoop of ice cream, not even overflowing but a neat small circle of ice cream, with two scoops being an extravagance and even then not making you feel too stuffed because they'd be two small circles of ice cream, not overflowing extra large scoops more like a pint of ice cream on a cone.

Think if a box of candy at the movies was like they were when I was a kid, about the size of a deck of cards only a little more elongated. Today, when I buy my little guy some candy at the movies it's enough to keep several kids in candy for a week.

Part of the reason for all this, as has been written about extensively, is the government price supports for corn that makes growing it so profitable and buying it so cheap so that the sweeteners made from it can be used liberally and in everything. Let's not even get into corn fructose syrup, the result of a relatively recent process the long term impact of nobody knows, though the short term is obvious since any graph of the use of it in the food supply matches the graph of obesity, both rising dramatically once it became a staple ingredient in almost everything (though since much attention has been brought to that reality it's been removed from a lot of otherwise good products).

Anyway, wandering around Great Barrington eating SoCo ice cream cones, checking out the array of hippie styles outside The Mahawie Theater where a well known string band was performing, I noticed a lot of the young hippies/punks (the two styles conjoined around here) didn't just have piercings, but also had those ear lobe things, like giant wooden buttons stuck through their lobes stretching them out. But nonetheless, the vibe was so mellow and friendly and sensual it felt like it could have been The Summer of Love, same disastrous kind of world events going on, though a much worse economy, but that vibe of peace and love creating an aura over everything making the evening seem precious in the best sense of that word, a beautiful night to be alive.


Anonymous said...

How beautiful to have that 'summer of love' feeling, yet be forward in time, surrounded by your beautiful family.

Anonymous said...

Lal--Thanks for the comments on high fructose corn syrup. It seems to be in everything now, including kielbasa and smoked sausage by just about every sausage maker, peanut butter, catsup, and so on. Skippy used to be proud to claim it was made O N L Y from peanuts and salt, but that was when we were kids in the 40s and 50s. No more. We refuse to buy anything with HFCS in it, which probably means that eventually about the only things without it will be things you make yourself. Eat Healthy,
Bob Berner

Lally said...

Suzanne, You said it perfectly.
And Bob, some brands are getting hip to it. My little guy has been looking at labels for years since his mom and me are against the whole high fructose syrup takeover of the food world, but lately he's been pointing out to me that certain Snapple flavors have dropped it, as have some of Paul Newman's products, etc. So there's hope.

Anonymous said...

Lal--That's good news about Snapple. Everyone else should follow their lead. Bob B.

Mark said...

As an ice cream lover, Soco sounds amazing.

I did notice the conversation about high fructose corn syrup, so I thought I’d weigh in. Consumers are being misled into thinking that sugar is healthier than high fructose corn syrup, which is simply a kind of sugar. Like sugar or honey, high fructose corn syrup has calories. Excessive calories, from whatever source, can promote weight gain. But replacing high fructose corn syrup with sugar will not reduce obesity or improve health. They are nutritionally the same.

Government data confirm that per capita consumption of high fructose corn syrup in the U.S. has actually been declining in recent years, while the obesity problem continues to grow. Obesity is becoming a more global problem each day, yet high fructose corn
syrup is used very little—or not at all—in many countries where obesity is rising. Sugar is the primary sweetener in most parts of the world. Obesity rates are rising around the world, including in Mexico, Australia and Europe, even though the use of high fructose corn syrup outside of the U.S. is limited

No single food or ingredient is the sole cause of obesity – rather, the primary cause is too many calories and too little exercise.

I’ve gone on long enough, so thanks for your consideration!

Mark on behalf of the Corn Refiners Association