Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Starbucks

Cheery Cherry Pie $2.09

Cheery .. Cherry .. Pie. It's come to this. We heard about Cheery Cherry Pie in New York and wondered if it was worth checking in Hoboken. Could there be a Jersey Cheery Cherry Pie? Or is this local to NYC? Not at all. Turns out there are Cheery Cherry Pies gracing pastry cases from coast to coast at Starbucks. Yep, you heard it. And here's what Jersey Pie thinks. We think that Starbucks bigwigs are reading Jersey Pie, and, one day at high Starbucks muckety-muck headquarters, the visionaries were gathered together envisioning the next BIG THING, and, of course, at the top of everyone's list was Jersey Pie's quest for the best cherry pie, and they hotly conspired to knock this one out of the park. Then they named it Cheery Cherry Pie.

Okay, so how is it? Simply put, it's a good pie. There. We admitted it. In fact, we find ourselves wanting another one as soon as possible. Did we want it to be good? Sure, well, sort of... well, maybe not. Maybe we wanted it to fit into our tirade about widget food. We have been working on a notion that attention and intention are important ingredients.

But maybe widget food can be good food, too. Starbucks has recently made some decisions about their ingredients with which Jersey Pie approves:
  • No artificial flavors
  • No artificial trans fats
  • No artificial dyes
  • No high-fructose corn syrup
(could it be true?)

In addition to its rainbow-in-the-sky moniker, a Cheery Cherry Pie has cherries, flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), butter (cream [from milk]), sugar, palm oil shortening, water, wheat flour, starch, sugar, apple cider vinegar, whole eggs, sea salt, sodium alginate, calcium sulfate, lemon juice, egg whites.

(Well?)

We had to get another one to help remember the experience. And we didn't regret it. Then the third Cheery Cherry Pie was just as good as the first two. They've overcome the individual pie pitfall of too much crust by folding four corners of a pastry square over the top so the crust doesn't quite go all the way around. Oh, what a clever mega-corp! Believe it or not, it is now Starbucks that is setting the bar for the best cherry pie in New Jersey. Oh, we do hate to say it. But wait! Let's return for a moment to attention and intention.

Let us say that Starbucks has fed us the best TASTING cherry pie in New Jersey. And let us ask, "Is that enough?" Our conscience still has questions about the Cheery Cherry Pie. (Where is it produced? How is it distributed? What is the carbon footprint? How are the workers treated? Where do they get their cherries? How are the cherry pickers treated?) Ever since seeing Food, Inc. we have felt we cannot go in with one hand over our eyes and another hand shoveling cherry pies into our gompers. Before we bestow the blue ribbon, we want to know what our $2.09 is supporting. We want our cherry pie to be truly .. Cheery.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Jersey Pie Road Trip 1

Delicious Orchards
320 Route 34 South
Colts Neck, NJ 07722
Cherry Pie: $10.99

Summer at the New Jersey farm stand is shaping up to be a rewarding side trip for us diner diving folks here at Jersey Pie. We drove down from the city to a quaint little farm store named Delicious Orchards, where, we were told, real old fashioned pies were to be found. When we left we actually had an assortment of desserts in addition to a whole cherry pie, which we brought home to share with M. Slices were dealt, followed by nods, grunts and raised eyebrows. The concensus: Now we're getting somewhere! That's a good pie!! What a flaky pastry crust! What tasty, tart cherries! If we had been served this at any diner we'd have called it an unqualified success. But wait, this is supposed to be a farm fresh pie. We've sampled so many (bad ones) that we're not sure of the criteria. This pie... Well, the matrix was a little sweet for our taste. That's not necessarily a complaint, possibly just a personal preference. But we were a little suspicious. We gave Delicious Orchards a call to see if the cherry pie was high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) sweetened. It wasn't. Maybe we are getting paranoid about our food after seeing Food, Inc.. Its pretty scary. Generally we don't go for fear-mongering (unless we can get behind it, we guess), but it's worth checking out. Maybe it's not showing in your neck of the woods, so here are some of the interesting points, in case you don't get around to it.

One likely ingredient in mass-produced pie filling (cherries + goo) is HFCS. That will serve as our cherry pie tie-in. We have been trying to avoid HFCS and partially hydrogenated oil. We heard HFCS is linked to the obesity epidemic, then we heard not, but hey, do we have to eat it? We don't even remember what's wrong with partially hydrogenated oil... free radicals? No, that's us... Anyhoo, we've decided against them. That pretty much rules out the cookie aisle. These days, most processed food contains HFCS. We learned from the movie this is just one of a large fistful of products made from corn, some of which have wormed their way into our cravings through processed foods.

If you should pop high fructose corn syrup into a popular search engine, the first hit will be a delightful little website called Sweet Surprise. This website is the property of the Corn Refiners Association, who also funds the studies that present high fructose corn syrup in a positive light. (That last link will take you to a fun YouTube spoof of other Corn Refiners Association efforts.) Hopefully we will not be slapped with a food libel lawsuit for making fun of the Corn Refiners Association. It cost Oprah a million dollars to work her way out of one of these when she declared on television that she wanted to be sure she wasn't eating Mad Cow Diseased beef.

Defenders of high fructose corn syrup are employing a curious argument. They state that HFCS is no worse than table sugar. We here at Jersey Pie would like to know, is everyone else in America like 12 years old or something? How is that an argument? Those of us who grew up in the 1960s remember Sugar Smacks (mmmm). We also remember a day when, suddenly, folks were not so keen on foods whose first ingredient was sugar. Sugar Smacks was renamed Honey Smacks in the '80s to address this consumer trend, but it still contains more than 50% sugar by weight. So, the score is Kellogg's 2, Consumers 0. We predict the next move in the hide the sugar game will be to stop listing "high fructose corn syrup" and start listing its components: glucose and sucrose. We'll be sure to alert you when we find out!

Just one more corny point we'd like to make before signing off. Agent Orange producer Monsanto engineered some seeds that were resistant to their heavy duty pesticide Round Up. Engineering allows them to patent the seeds. Patented seeds allow Monsanto to sue farmers for patent infringement if pollen from their seeds spread onto crops on neighboring farms. Yup. They are really doing this. The crops Monsanto has engineered include corn, soy, sugar beets, and canola. Buying organic allows you to avoid these genetically engineered, patented foods. Just sayin'.

Our Delicious Orchards cherry pie was not organic but did not have HFCS. What more could we ask? Take a look as we plate our slices while Chip and Flip sing our theme song. Turn up the sound and enjoy.

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