15.10.06

Why Don’t Americans Eat Real Food?

This evening I stood in the cereal isle of Albertson’s feeling paralyzed as I stared at the hundreds of boxes in front of me. All I wanted was Cheerios, plain, whole oat Cheerios. I have been craving them the last several months of this pregnancy, plain Cheerios with milk. Actually, Cheerios would be inaccurate because what I really wanted was Trader Joe’s Oh’s, which taste better in my opinion, and cost 2 dollars less a box. But, as I have mentioned, transportation is a constant problem for me and my beloved TJ’s is too far to walk. I intended to pay the extra 2 bucks for the branding, and go home and eat. Instead, I stood staring. I don’t want a DVD puzzle in my cereal box, neither do I want a free book or any thing else but a plain box of Cheerios. I don’t want to pay an extra dollar to get the book for “Free”. Why is it that I could have gotten a “plain” box of any sugar cereal that I desired, including Honey Nut Cheerios without books and interactive computer nonsense, but a plain box of cereal needs a marketing gimmick?

I started reading labels. Good grief, the stuff in some of these isn’t even food. Come one, oat flour and corn syrup, in cereal; are people insane? I wouldn’t feed that to myself even if I didn’t have an unborn child to think of. Lists a mile long of preservatives, and chemical additives and when you are finished reading perhaps 3 of 12 things on the list are something I recognized as edible. I went on.

You see, I’ve had this brownie craving for a while, but I don’t want to bake them. In Canada I could find these brownies at Safeway; they were called two bite brownies, little mini brownie treats. They were made with flour, and butter, and chocolate, and sugar, you know, the things that brownies are supposed to be made out of. Every so often I pick up a box of brownies at Albertson’s, maybe just to torture myself I’m not sure, maybe I am an optimist after all. The ingredients list reads like a chemistry textbook. I recognized enriched flour, one box boasted that they used “real” chocolate in their brownies, hmmm, I wonder what the other ones use. After flour there was high fructose corn syrup, people, do you know what this stuff does to your body and your brain? Then there was chocolate, what followed was a frighteningly long list of processed egg something of other, and lecithin, and soy bean oil, and hydrogenated this, and partly hydrogenated that, and chemical, preservative, chemical, preservative, etc. You get the picture. Needless to say, I did not buy any brownies tonight. I admit I probably think more about what goes into my body than most. How I feel on a daily basis pretty much depends on it. The thing is though, so does everyone else, whether they’ve made the connection yet or not. I feel like my grandpa on a tirade or something, but whatever happened to real food?

I can’t bring myself to buy bread at Albertson’s either. There are two choices really, white bread, or whole grain that been sweetened within and inch of its life. What is the point of buying whole grain bread if the second largest ingredient in it is corn syrup, or sugar? To my mouth its disgusting and fake tasting, and I won’t eat it. I’d rather eat a decent white bread that’s made properly than a whole grain with excessive sweetening in it.

I am a shop the U type of person. I shop the outside circle, produce, dairy, meat, bakery, household goods, and I’m outta there. It is rare for my cravings to take me into the deep darkness that is the center aisles. Every time I go there I leave empty handed, and frustrated. I’m lucky that where I live there are alternatives, there is Trader Joe’s, a store that makes their food out of real ingredients, doesn’t over process or poison their food, I can feed my family their crackers and cereals, and even cookies, and frozen entrees and not feel like I’m poisoning us all to death a little bit at a time; because it’s good, and good for you. (They should give me a months free shopping or something for this unsolicited endorsement.) We have stores here where everything is organic, you don’t even need to label read because they’ve done it for you, they don’t stock anything that doesn’t have real food in it and no preservatives and over processed whatchmacallit. But these are specialty stores. Albertson’s is a store that represents mainstream shopping and eating habits of the American public, and it has barely any food in it and by that I mean things that actually nourish.

The kids that my son plays with in our neighborhood are fat, almost all of them. I’m not talking about cute and cherubic, they are still young and round and chubby type of fat, I’m talking about dangerously obese fat. I’m talking about three rolls under their armpits type of fat. It breaks my heart. When I went to school, the one poor kid or two per grade who looked like that were, unfortunately, mocked, singled out, and teased. I’m not saying that this was a good thing; I’m pointing out that now it’s normal for all of the kids to look like that. I see the middle school girls walking home in their little low-rise jeans and belly shirts, showing off bellies larger than I had after my first baby was born. While I’m glad that these girls have confidence, I can’t help but be concerned at how grossly unhealthy they are. American’s are undernourished at the same time as they are overweight!

When I look at what’s available at the local store, it makes sense that children look the way they do, that childhood obesity is an epidemic, that diet related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are now commonly found in the bodies of children under 3. What is wrong with a country that allows itself to be told what to eat by manufacturers who don’t care about their health, only what is cheapest and most convenient to produce? How did this happen, and how is it going to change?

Which brings me to an interesting thought before I say goodnight. I have often wondered how I could go about educating others about how to eat properly, nourishing themselves. I know there are a hundred books out there, and tons of diets, mostly about losing weight, but how many people really know what they should be eating, and why they shouldn’t be eating other things. I have been successful in one on one encounter with friends and neighbors. I don’t blame people who eat poorly for their lack of education. Everything about the system, starting from childhood on is designed to make us consumers instead of thoughtful eaters, but I know there are so many out there who aren’t thoughtful, and wouldn’t even know where to begin. I love to teach, I can’t help it, and I just wish I could sit mothers down and teach them what I know. I’ve done so for a few small groups, and it’s always eye opening for a lot of people. So enough preamble; I’m thinking about starting another blog and devoting it to healthful eating, shopping, cooking, and other aspects of enjoying the act of nourishing ourselves. This would include recipes for real brownies, and where to find ice cream that only has cream and eggs and sugar and vanilla bean in it, or great chocolate, as well as meals and breakfast and the like.

What do you think Internet? Would you like that? Maybe if enough people get it, then I’ll be able to shop at the local store and purchase real food again.

13 comments:

  1. Anonymous5:26 AM

    Your points about childhood obesity and excessive levels of sugars are well-taken, but I think your concerns about preservatives and the like in food are unwarranted.

    An insightful cartoon I once read says it all: two cavemen are sitting in a cave talking.

    "Something's just not right," one explains to the other. "Our air is clean, our water is pure, we all get plenty of exercise, everything we eat is organic and free-range, and yet nobody lives past thirty."

    ReplyDelete
  2. I am also a big fan of Trader Joe's and I can barely stand to shop at other stores. I think the blog idea is great. I always want to feed my kids the best stuff but sometimes I just don't know what is best and sometimes I just do not have the time so quick things would be great to know about.

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  3. To anonymous-

    As unhealthy as preservatives and chemical additives are for people. THe main thing I was bemoaning was that they are present and anything truly nourishing is absent. That what is found on grocery stores aisles is not in fact food, but a poor imitation of it.

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  4. Anonymous9:26 PM

    I adore Trader Joe's. I love going there as so much of their food excites and inspires me to cook. I have a hard time just getting the quality of ingredients I want at Albertson's for a fair price.

    Preservatives don't bother me as much as they seem to bother you, but I dislike the taste of baked goods perserved beyond reason. Corn syrup, however, blech. Target stopped selling non-Target brands of pint chocolate milk, so I try out their brand. It was disgusting. The second ingredient? Corn syrup. Gosh, people, second ingredient is supposed to be either cream or chocolate.

    It would be nice to have a blog or a website that finds quality foods and brands, tips on identifying healthy foods, and tips on how to purchase healthy groceries (like just don't buy a bag of chips or cans of soda regardless of their price).

    Another well written post, as always =)

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  5. Hi there,
    Great post. I agree.
    K
    ps- I also like two bite brownies, but am living somewhere where I can't get them.

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  6. yay!! That would be so great to share what you know and reach a lot of mama's. Check with WIC and see if you could teach some classes for them, maybe? I used to when I was a La Leche Leader.

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  7. i think the internet would LOVE that. my internet would.

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  8. Hi Carrien, I am new to your blog and already I love it! Yes, I would love if you would put something together like that. I, too, am a U-shopper and constantly on the lookout for real recipes. Thank you!

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  9. Well said! When I am out in public, I often look around and think, "I'm surrounded by fat people! When did everyone get so fat?" I have a blog about nutrition and health called One Yellow Marker; I invite you to take a look. I haven't been writing often, but I am glad when I check the stats and see that people find it through web searches. At least I'm providing some information and food for thought.

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  10. Hi! I just found your site! Thanks for posting! My husband and I are passionate about creating awareness about our food and the state of our children's health. We have a whole blog devoted to it if you want to check it out and tell me what you think. I love your writing and think you would do a fabulous job at a food blog! I agree with everything you have said. It's amazing that most people are completely unaware tha what they are eating is not real. We've taught our kids this principle: God food vs. Man food. God food is as close to nature as possible, man food has taken God food and destroyed it by processing or adding poisons. We strive to limit as much Man food as possible! Never perfect, but always improving! Thanks! www.healthyoates.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi! I just found your site! Thanks for posting! My husband and I are passionate about creating awareness about our food and the state of our children's health. We have a whole blog devoted to it if you want to check it out and tell me what you think. I love your writing and think you would do a fabulous job at a food blog! I agree with everything you have said. It's amazing that most people are completely unaware tha what they are eating is not real. We've taught our kids this principle: God food vs. Man food. God food is as close to nature as possible, man food has taken God food and destroyed it by processing or adding poisons. We strive to limit as much Man food as possible! Never perfect, but always improving! Thanks! www.healthyoates.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Well said! When I am out in public, I often look around and think, "I'm surrounded by fat people! When did everyone get so fat?" I have a blog about nutrition and health called One Yellow Marker; I invite you to take a look. I haven't been writing often, but I am glad when I check the stats and see that people find it through web searches. At least I'm providing some information and food for thought.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi there,
    Great post. I agree.
    K
    ps- I also like two bite brownies, but am living somewhere where I can't get them.

    ReplyDelete

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