Have I run this topic into the ground yet? Yes, I'm about to talk about the diet again... Sorry. I still have kids, but we're all sick (head cold) and whiny and not at all interesting today (although Mary Grace was reading books to Claire for a while earlier, which was super cute, and BJ made the astute observation that Mary Grace is the only person that Claire will sit still and listen to books with - she has no patience whatsoever for Mom and Dad's reading...)
Anyway, I have recently noticed something about food. If there are two types of a thing... Let's say, potatoes - you've got regular potatoes and sweet potatoes, right? If there are two types of a thing, the LEAST nutritious one is almost always the most popular one, or at least the most readily available one, in the U.S.
When was the last time you saw sweet potato fries at a fast food restaurant?
Or whole wheat buns?
Or honey sweetened soda instead of sugar sweetened soda?
Or sugar sweetened soda instead of high fructose corn syrup sweetened soda?
It's almost like we're trying to kill ourselves.
Think about all the different natural, caloric sweeteners there are. Sugar, brown (raw) sugar, molasses, honey, agave nectar, (brown) rice syrup, maple syrup, date sugar... Almost every last one of the natural, caloric sweeteners has SOME kind of nutritional or health benefit to offer ..... except for the one that is readily available - plain, white sugar. (Don't even get me started on artificial sweeteners right now).
Honey will soothe a sore throat, raw sugar contains trace amounts of minerals, rice syrups can be easier on your blood sugar levels than white sugar, maple syrup (the real stuff, not the fake stuff you generally find - and the fact that the real stuff is hard to find and expensive just proves my point again!) contains zinc and manganese.... Are you with me here? We have so many different kinds of sweeteners available, and yet the one that is omnipresent is the one that's the worst for us.
It's the same with flour. I dare you to find a loaf of bread that doesn't contain "enriched wheat flour" (or high fructose corn syrup for that matter). It's nearly impossible!
We eat the whitest, blandest, most refined, least nutritious versions of almost everything.
Even apples. Go to the store. Those Red Delicious things are lovely, but they have no flavor. But they're everywhere! You can find them, year round, at any grocery store in the country. (My sister didn't even realize that she liked apples until I introduced her to Honeycrisps.) Why do we continue to buy shitty apples?? Real apples taste good. Mass produced apples that are so bad that they have to assert their own deliciousness and that are trucked from a zillion miles away taste like cardboard, and they're less nutritious!
Does anyone else think it's ironic that we have to add chemicals (like MSG) to food to make it taste better, because it's made with white flour and white potatoes and white sugar and high fructose corn syrup and crappy produce like Red "Delicious" apples (assuming there is any actual produce in it at all!), when we could save ourselves the trouble of adding the chemicals AND the expense to our health if we just ate real, better quality food?
I love convenience as much as anyone - and I will admit that it has been years since I baked my own bread (and when I did, it was made with white flour and white sugar, anyway), and that tonight I cracked open a can of chicken noodle soup (with white flour noodles and assorted chemicals) for dinner... I will admit that I would rather BUY cheese than MAKE cheese, and that lately I've even been eating Fat Free Kraft Singles, and who knows what futuristic space mutant chemicals I'm eating when I eat those!
But for God's sake, doesn't it seem ridiculous, in a country where everyone seems to be struggling with weight, that we're eating nothing but garbage, that we're consistently eating the least nutritious of our choices across the board? We have built an entire culture on the over-abundance of low quality food.
It has to stop. We have to start demanding better. We need to move to a culture of high quality food. If we do, even if it's just in our own families, I'll bet we'll find ourselves satisfied with less food (because it's of higher quality). I'll even bet we could cure a lot of the health problems that face us in the U.S. (obesity, heart disease, depression, maybe even infertility and stuff that isn't as obviously linked to food... cancer?) if we stop eating tons and tons of junk, and start eating reasonable portions of healthy, nutritious food. Real food - not this chemical crap that we've been fooling ourselves into calling food for years.
Where did it start? With the TV dinner? The vitamin pill? When women left the home and entered the workforce? No, I refuse to blame this on working mothers. I think it's just been a perfect storm of societal influences - mass media bringing us commercials for chain restaurants - which increases the demand for chain restaurants, women going to work, factory farming, the supply chain for food getting longer and longer, attention spans getting shorter and shorter, TV dinners, cake mixes.... All of it has conspired to make us feel 1) inept in and intimidated by the kitchen, 2) that our time is too "valuable" to waste in the kitchen, 3) that we "deserve" to go out for dinner (where we eat gargantuan portions, because this chain restaurant has to entice you more than that chain restaurant, so they'll feed you as much as possible for the lowest possible price), 4) that convenience food is as healthy if not healthier than anything we could cook from scratch (it's Enriched! and Fortified!!)...
We have got to be smarter than that if we want to live.
Oh dear. I just re-read this and I'm totally ranting. You can tell when I use lots of italics and exclamation points, not to mention the poor abused parentheses. We'll blame the fever, ok? I'm really very sick, here, and not at all in my right mind.
But seriously, we can do better. We can do better for our kids. But I have to get better, first. Right now we're living on canned soup and tea. It's bleak, folks. It's bleak.
At least it's green tea (healthy) and not black (abundant), with honey (marginally healthy) and not white sugar (not even a little bit healthy). Baby steps.