I recently had a conversation with a produce dept staffer at Giant Eagle. I was expressing appreciation for the recently added organic options and they were basically rolling their eyes.
It made me mad.
Look, this isn’t a fad. The fad has been the mindless consumption of processed crap for about 100 years. Hydrogenated oils. Preservatives. Artificial sweeteners. Corn syrup. Even with all of our information about the importance health, more of us are getting sick. Obesity, cancer rates and heart disease are at record highs. Do we really need convincing that something is wrong?
It’s great that more people are growing in awareness regarding the chemicals and lack of nutrients in processed foods. You don’t have to ditch all of your favorite treats and become, like, a vegan, right this instant. Just be open to learning some about what you’re eating and feeding your kids.
Seriously – think about what we feed our kids. Sugar, salt, fat, chemicals, fake food shaped like dinosaurs. I become increasingly more alarmed and less tolerant of this stuff. And people roll their eyes at me. But the difference is this: I’m carefully reading about these things, and the eye rollers just don’t want to worry about scary food issues. People want to eat their Cheetos and drink their soda in peace.
Listen, I’m not trying to ruin your fun. I adore certain foods that are made from junk. It’s a struggle to say no to them. I love giving my daughter food she loves – it’s fun to make kids happy. And believe me, candy makes this kid happy. But so do pears fresh from the tree in our yard, organic yogurt and cookies home made from real ingredients.
Having colon cancer is a major wake up call. While it is very likely genetics played a role in my developing cancer, I must examine my diet over my lifetime. I truly thought I ate healthy before. Low on meat, high on fresh vegetables. But in efforts to reduce calories in the never ending quest to be thinner, I relied heavily on artificial sweeteners and diet and lower fat products. I feel deep regret, recalling a routine I once had where nearly each night I would work out for an hour of cardio, then relax and drink about 8 glasses of iced tea, each sweetened with a packet of Equal. 8 servings of Aspartame a night. When I was pregnant and had to avoid sugar due to gestational diabetes, I ate 4-6 sugar free popcicles a night during that warm summer. I was doing my best. But I was misguided.
There is good news, though. More people are caring. More are reading labels and avoiding those unpronounceable ingredients. More are learning about how the food industry has duped us and the FDA has failed us for a century.
As more people care, the market is going to shift toward greater transparency in the food industry. And then, healthier, better options. The first step is these companies feeling the economic impact of people saying “no” to this junk. Interestingly, McDonalds had their worst July profit-wise in ten years. Changes are coming…