you ever seen the movie, Soylent Green? It's one of my favorites.
It was even on a couple weeks ago! It takes place
in New York City in the year 2022. Basically the population
has grown to 40 million and real food is scarce due to pollution
and the greenhouse effect. They also discovered oceans were
dying, their last supply of food. (Sound familiar?) The
Soylent Corporation manufactures and distributes food wafers in
several colors. Soylent
Green is the favorite. It
is, unbeknownst to the consumer, made from people.
started right here in Houston. They boast they have
69 distribution centers throughout the U.S., Alaska and parts
of Canada. They service
approximately 270,000 food service establishments. They sell everything
many food service operations could want, from canned and dry foods, to produce,
seafood, meat and mops and brooms. How convenient
you say? Well, they sell
Smaller "Mom & Pop"
restaurants don't have the purchasing advantages of larger places.
They are usually forced to buy all their products from a large
vendor like Sysco because they can't meet the minimum
purchase requirements needed to get the smaller vendors into their
places. Instead of being able to buy exactly what they want
from a few small vendors, they are basically forced to "settle"
for what a larger vendor has to offer. This is what Sysco
loves. The strategy is great.
I have never been a fan, or
customer, of Sysco. I prefer to deal with the smaller
vendors like local company, Jake's Fine Foods.
Many Sysco salesmen have called on me through
the years when I've been a chef in restaurants here in Houston. I've never had any desire
to use them. Like
Wal-Mart, Sysco has gone into small town America
and either bought up or put out of business, the small local companies.
I've even seen them in my hometown of Brattleboro, Vt.,
a town of 12,000.
like other food service distributors, have had their share of
problems, like when Ninfa's owed them over a million dollars.
You can be sure that they used that debt to manipulate them
into being the main distributor they use. I even remember
a scandal over bid rigging at the Pasadena ISD years ago,
in which they were involved.
me, they are a good part of what's wrong with the food service
industry. They offer a wide variety
of already prepared & pre-portioned food that takes no talent
or knowledge to "cook" (re-heat). I suppose they are gearing up for the restaurant of the future
that will be using robots to work in the kitchen with basically
heat and eat food. There
was a robot being demonstrated at the Texas Restaurant Association's
Food Show that was in town in June at the George R. Brown Convention
Center. It's coming!
As an example of the food lameness
that's possible, the Houston Art Car Klub!
was invited to the Polo Club
last year where they told us we would be fed and wined. Since my wife drives
an art car, we were invited.
Nothing can get an art car to a function like the offer
of food and drink! Anyway, upon arrival I noticed the Palm
Restaurant signage in the tented food area. I watched in disbelief
as the "cooks" (I use that term loosely) opened Sysco
boxes and loaded the food into cold chafing dishes. Then they lit them and
stood around waiting for the food to become hot. This, by the way, is
a direct health department violation. Hot chafing dishes will
keep hot food at a constant temperature, but were not designed
to heat food. The
food was mediocre at best, and far from being hot. For free, one shouldn't
complain, but I expect more from a restaurant of the Palm's
doubt they serve any of that stuff in their restaurants!
think you could train a monkey to be a cook using Sysco
products. It's generic
food for generic people. With little flavor and
no talent needed to prepare it, it's the ideal food for a large
sector of the population that is satisfied with mediocre food.
I'm aware of a restaurant here in Houston that buys frozen
prepared food, removes the disposable pan, puts it in his own
pans, heats it and sells it for homemade. I suppose many
people just don't know the difference.
food will never be as good as fresh food and I wish people would
learn to appreciate more of what it takes to be a good cook, or
chef. Sure you can
get a bad meal in any good restaurant, but when everything is
running right that shouldn't happen. If it does, send it
back. A good restaurant
will make it right.
why do I compare Sysco to the Soylent Company?
I believe that in the coming years when our farmlands and
water supplies are further contaminated from pollution, our food
will be manufactured instead of grown. With the continued worldwide growth of the Sysco
corporation they will be poised to be the dominant player in the
future of determining what we eat. Imagine the convenience
of just opening a package and not having to cook anything.
You can see that sort of thing in the grocery stores already
like the precooked pasta dishes on the shelves in the dry food
section of the grocery stores. Soylent type products are actually already available in the
guise of astronaut or campers food. Think about it, of course
this is just my opinion.