I hate ranch dressing.
I think it is vile.
I would just as soon it dropped off the face of the earth - and never use it at home nor when I'm out in restaurants.
So, when I saw that the Washington Post had published an editorial piece claiming that "Ranch dressing is what's wrong with America," I was all over that! Not only would it be a welcome anodyne to the various feelings generated by this unending electoral season, but a chance to metaphorically join a pitch-fork carrying crowd marching on The Hidden Valley, planning to burn it down? I'm all over that.
Then I read the article.
And now I'm wanting to go out and buy some ranch dressing just to delivery an appropriately milk-fat battered invitation for that piece's author to go to Hell.
I'm going to begin by pointing out the correction note at the bottom of the article. Once you read that you suddenly understand why the article admits that ranch dressing was invented in California at a humbug dude style restaurant, and then blames it for being too mid-Western to be good food. That's because the writer managed to fuck up his research because he was sure that the imagined mid-Western link had to be there - and that should have been sufficient to damn the Satan's smegma that is Ranch Dressing in the eyes of any right-thinking person, anywhere.
Yanno what else comes out of the mid-West? Corn, wheat, and hushpuppies. So do the Cubs! Just because something hails from the mid-West is only a damning criticism if you happen to be a NY or Californian hipster. Or a member of said coastal elites. (Hmm.... I wonder if there's an a correlation there?)
Then let's consider what ranch dressing really is: Our friend the hipster idiot thinks that ranch dressing is primarily made from buttermilk, and that is the source of it's astonishingly high fat content. Hidden Valley's own labels places a single 30 g serving as having 15 g of fat. (Which if you're wondering really is an astonishingly high fat content for anything.) But buttermilk has a fat content of about 2 g per cup - or 246 g serving. There is no way you're getting that fat content from buttermilk - of course since I'm not a hipster idiot, I can do some basic research.
Here's a secret for everyone following at home: Ranch dressing is flavored or seasoned with buttermilk, but the majority component for the used semen that Americans seem dedicated to putting on everything is actually a fat emulsion, like mayonnaise. (Or as the Military's commissary chain called it while I was active duty: Salad Dressing, Type II) Since we're going to try to stick to at least some facts in this piece let's consider what mayonnaise is: usually it's some oil (vegetable, or olive) mixed with raw egg, and some lemon juice, and salt to taste. No kidding it's a high in fat food, but the milk products in ranch dressing are not the problem with ranch dressing.
Then our beloved idiot feels the need to castigate ranch dressing for tasting like half-rotted milk.
Buttermilk is a fermented food. Get it right, bozo! It's a fully rotted product! It's just that sometimes when things are rotted, they taste awesome. (Other fermented foods that are awesome include sauerkraut, cheese, garum, and thousand year eggs.*)
Complaining about something tasting like what it's been flavored with is fucking bizarre. And if you don't like cheese, I don't care what else you might want to say about food - we're not even int he same galaxy. There may be some Venn Diagram overlap in our food preferences, but there's no real alignment in our tastes of views. It's just a coincidence.
Then he gets onto this utterly contra-factual complaint about ranch dressing being primarily a means of getting milkfat into people's gobs. Which if you'll remember the little lesson I offered earlier, is a bit of a stretch. I figure what animal product is in ranch dressing is most likely to be overwhelmingly chicken, from the eggs used in the mayonnaise base, than any milkfat from the buttermilk added for flavoring. Certainly there's going to be more egg fat than milk fat in any given sampling of ranch dressing.
Now, the environmental impact of dairy and meat farming is something I can't argue with - from a simple energy efficiency perspective that should be obvious: a biological system is doing very well to be able to harness 20-30% of the available chemical energy in the food it consumes. And when we eat meat, in particular, because we're not hyenas and only care about some parts of the carcass, that efficiency gets even worse. I've seen some figures that say for every pound of beef consumed something like the equivalent of ten pounds of grain was fed to the cow to produce it. That 10% figure may be off, but I'm sure it's good within +5%/-2%. So in a food scarce world that explains why a number of sane and sensible people think that we do eat too much meat, and meat byproducts.
(There are some other things to consider besides that bare bones analysis, but that's beyond the scope of this rant.)
To make the claim that ranch dressing's need for buttermilk is going to affect the scope of dairy or meat farming taking place is blatantly absurd. It's probably got a bigger effect on poultry production, but I'd think even there that less than 1% of the eggs produced in our nation are destined to be ruined by conversion to that curdles serum that is ranch dressing.
Let's go back to the only point that should matter: If you think ranch dressing tastes good you're wrong and bad and evil, and you need to try other things.
But not because of milkfat or anti-flyover state snobbery. Just remember: it's Satan's smegma and it doesn't taste good. If you must have a creamy dressing on your salad greens go with Caesar dressing - it's got fermented fish in it! Yum!