· 1 medium onion, chopped fine
· 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
· 1 medium tomato, chopped fine
· 1 green pepper, chopped fine (optional)
· 4-6 eggs
1. Whisk eggs. Set aside.
2. Melt oil in a large nonstick skillet.
3. Sautée chopped onions over medium heat until translucent.
4. Add tomatoes and peppers and cook over medium heat until soft, 8-10 minutes.
5. Pour eggs into skillet and cook gently, stirring them lightly and flipping them as they cook.
6. Cook to desired doneness. Serve warm with arepas.
Perico is a Venezuelan dish consisting of eggs, oil, tomatoes, onions, and green peppers. A single serving would have about 18.5 grams of fat and 222 calories. It has no sugar (except for a little natural sugar from the vegetables).
Our dish is nearly 100% whole food. The only processed ingredient is vegetable oil, of which only a tablespoon is used. It was also, dollar for calorie, the cheapest ingredient. A 48-oz bottle cost $2.99. Eggs were $2.29 a dozen, also relatively cheap. The pepper was $1.99, the tomato and onion $3.99 each. One serving of perico costs approximately $3.97, more than a serving of fast food.
The only ingredients whose origins we were able to find were the eggs and oil. The eggs came from a small organic farm called Sauder’s Quality Eggs. The oil was manufactured by Clover Valley, which is owned by Dolgencorp, LLC, a subsidiary of Dollar General. While we don’t know exactly where the vegetables came from, they probably came at least several hundred miles. They were from a normal supermarket and therefore are probably from Florida, California, or Mexico.
The only vegetable oil regulation I could find was a bill that requires animal fats and vegetable oils to be regulated just like non-food oils for manufacturing and transportation. There are many regulations concerning the production of all eggs, to prevent the spread of salmonella, and more for organic eggs.
Sauder’s eggs come from hens that eat organic feed with no antibiotics and roam outdoors. Conventionally produced eggs come from hens given antibiotics and growth hormones. Since Sauder’s is in Pennsylvania, the eggs also travel less than eggs from a non-local company might. The tomato wasn’t organic. While an organic tomato would have been grown without pesticides, the tomato we used was likely sprayed with pesticides to control weeds, pests and disease.Initially, I was suspicious that Sauder’s was a friendly face hiding a large corporation, but I looked through their website and it’s clear they are a small family farm. Meanwhile, the CEO of Dollar General, David A. Perdue, makes $1.94 million a year. It’s amazing what a far-reaching effect the purchase of a single meal’s ingredients can have.
This unit in science and society, I’ve learned about the ways in which science is a part of seemingly unscientific issues, like what we eat. So much of the truth behind what we eat is hidden from us by huge food corporations. It’s up to consumers to uncover the ugly truths behind modern agriculture.
Our food system is terribly flawed. We rely not on traditional farms, but on factories, where workers are mistreated and food is produced in unhealthy, dangerous and environmentally unsound ways. Because food corporations are so huge and so powerful, they are able to eschew using responsible manufacturing practices in favor of doing whatever they can to make money. They are even able to silence anyone who speaks out against them. The biggest problem is that they act irresponsibly because they have no reason not to. They aren’t punished for the problems they create. As Michael Pollan described, Monsanto is working to create GMOs that are largely still not understood. Worse, these products not only have the potential to cause problems in the short run, but once a gene is introduced to nature, it’s there for good. This is called “genetic pollution,” and there’s no way to fix it.Though individual consumers may feel powerless, we all have a role in creating and maintaining the larger food system. As powerful as these huge corporations are, they are totally dependent on consumers to support them. It’s up to individuals to create change by supporting only companies that use responsible manufacturing practices—companies that sell organic food, don’t use GMOs, and treat their workers and livestock well. As we saw in Food, Inc., there are some companies that do this, and it is effective. When consumers demanded organic food from Wal-Mart, they responded. I’d be more willing to make these changes myself if there were an easier way of knowing which companies do use responsible practices, and I think the same goes for many people.