In July it will be two years that I left France. I knew I would grow and learn a lot coming to North America. But one thing for sure, I knew I would never find the same quality of food. And even if I prepared myself as much as I could to deal with it, it’s still hard to accept it.
It’s a little bit like when you are going to do a hard workout session, you know it, you think “I will just push myself through it”… but when you are in the middle of it you think “noooope it’s too much, I think I could, but I can’t”.
I hear you, yes, if I am not happy I should just shup up and go home. But it’s only fair to be comparing everything from your home country when you live abroad.
North America has a lot of good things, but the quality of the food is not one of them.
After a year in Québec and now almost a year in Miami, here is my perspective:
- Yes, you can eat organic food and there is plenty of it. And it is as expensive as it is in France. On this, both our countries suck. You want to eat healthy fresh non-GMO foods? You have to triple your food budget. It’s a hard choice for me (I buy some food organic some not), I can’t imagine the struggle for families with children.
- The diversity is not there yet. I don’t know if it’s a specific parameter from Florida because it’s a very sunny tropical weather, but here we have the same food all year long. In France we have specific vegetables and fruits for each season, which makes the cooking fun and you never get bored. Since I am in Miami, no matter what, it’s always the same products season after season.
- The size of certain packages of food is huge. It’s not usual to see 3 liters sodas bottles or “family size” bags of breads or chips. American people have the same physiology than European but the sizes of the products are way bigger. I guess it’s part of the obesity problem.
- The fresh markets where you can find local products from your area are not so common. It’s surprising because Miami is the door to Latin America so I thought it would be easier to find products from America and the south of the continent. But I also learned that is not really in American culture to cook all the time. You buy food that is already prepared or you eat outside. So there is no real need or demand for fresh local market products.
- In Montreal in particular, the vegetarian and vegan communities are huge and still growing. They offer a wide range of products and restaurants but I haven’t seen that in Miami a lot. The main culture here is Latina and they aren’t big fan of vegetarian foods. I like it because it gives me more options to eat something different. But it’s the same issue than with organic food, to me the prices are sometimes (and I insist sometimes) ridiculous. Charge people 7 $ for a vegan muffin is outrageous, sorry. With these 7 $ I buy the ingredients and I make 6 vegan muffins. So no, I am not falling for that.
- The absence of cheese. This is a hard one for me French lady. I love my cheese on a good bread and in America they just make weird block of gouda cheese-thing. All the others are imported products (most of them from France and Italy) that off course cost a fortune. Once again I get it, if it’s importation it’s normal that is more expensive, but still ridiculous to pay 8 $ for 60g of brie. My family and friends thought that living in America I would get fat, the truth is I am losing weight because I eat less cheese.
- The least but not less important: what’s with the chocolate with stuff inside? In France you have dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. The ones you eat just like that and the ones you use to cook pastries. You have some brands that offer chocolate with pieces of fruit or nuts inside but it’s not the majority of the offer. But here, even in Wholefoods the majority of the chocolates have stuff inside! Whyyyyyyyy ? I am ordering my Milka online.. thank you Amazon.
To be fair the situation is not as bad as we paint it in Europe. But it’s true that the products contain way more chemical products, especially sugar. You add that to bigger sizes packages and a lack of cuisine knowledge … people eat too much fat, too much outside and have bigger health problems.
I know French people we can be pretty arrogant with our food and our cuisine. But I have to say that in the defense of American people, the organic food is so expensive here that it’s affordable for a small part of the population. I can’t eat organic 100% of the time and I don’t have a lot of expenses, so for a whole family, it’s impossible.
I think we will solve a lot of health issues and will start to cook more when the basic healthy products will be available at reasonable prices.