I don’t know anything about this guy, but when I saw it on a friend’s newsfeed, it struck a chord with me. In our quest to eat real food, we’ve encountered more difficulty than I expected. My sister, who is on a similar quest, is experiencing even more difficulty – due to geographic access to whole food. One would think that in the sprawling metropolis that I live in, where farms are scarce, I would have a harder time gaining access to real food than my sister; who lives in “the country” (or at least a more rural locale than I).
The difference is a simple matter of economics. The diversity and income scale of my urban setting sets the demand for a variety of foods (not just organic) whereas her more rural setting appears to be focused more on keeping cost low. From the Appalachia to Chicago, there is an enormous economic shift in priorities.
No matter where you are though, one thing is clear, access to food like product is far easier than access to quality (read: real) food. And, all other things equal, food like product is by far the less expensive (monetarily speaking) choice. Or at least it seems that way. You can purchase a double cheeseburger from McDonald’s for a dollar. But making burgers at home, from real beef with real cheese and real bread is going to cost you far more than that.
Few people ever wonder about the cost of real food, I’ve learned. They don’t ask WHY often enough. Why a burger from McDonald is so cheap? Why is it possible for Kraft to sell Macaroni and Cheese on special two for a dollar? It’s not the economy of volume.
“Try Organic Food… or as your grandparents called it, “food”.
Sure, our grandparents could walk down to their corner market and purchase a bag full of groceries that included meat, cheese, vegetables, flour, milk, and eggs for five dollars. Obviously that isn’t the case anymore. Part of the reason is that real food is far more scarce in the US than the chemical laden food like product. When you pass a stretch of farmland, you think “Oh, how quaint. It’s a farm. It feeds people.” But, if you do a little research, you’ll find that the majority of farms in the US do NOT feed people. Those great long stretches of corn or soybeans you see don’t feed people. GMO corn and soy is used for animal feed, filler, and bio-fuel research and production; along
with about a thousand other non-food purposes. And growing crop after crop after crop of this highly engineered corn and soy has completely depleted the nutritional content of the land it’s grown on. It’s contributed to erosion, pesticide contamination of water supplies, and the death and/or disease of helpful insects and birds.
You pay more at the grocery store for real food. That’s the direct cost that you see. What you don’t see are the subsidies that are covered by our taxes. You don’t see the externalized costs in the chemical production (pollution, land restoration costs, etc.) There are a thousand costs every day that you pay for our access to “fast food”. Quick growing and pest free vegetables. Overweight, rapid growth animals. The chemicals and fillers that in take into your body every day through the food you eat presents a physical cost to you and your family.
We worry so greatly about our water. We purchase bottled (which is usually filtered tap, by the way) water, we purchase purifiers, we get reusable bottles with filters built it. We think we’re being smart by filtering water that already goes through a rigorous testing regimen (at least for those on City of Chicago water) and is cleaner than many versions of bottled water. But the plastic contains chemicals that can leach into the water, the plastics are refined in an air polluting manner, and even the disposal of the filters themselves presents a problem. I’m not knocking the desire for clean water, though it may sound like it. My point is, that you have to be an educated consumer. You have to ask WHY.
You have to ask WHY about everything.
My number one WHY at the moment is this. “Why would anyone choose to eat a food like product over REAL food?” Hell, I’m guilty of it. I was raised on the more is better philosophy. Three helpings of mac and cheese? Bring it! A whole can of Spagetti-O’s? I’m just getting started. A whole container of cookies filled with ingredients I can’t identify or pronounce? Just let me loosen my belt a little.
But I was never full and, even if I was, I was hungry again in 20 minutes.
Chemicals aren’t food. Only the sheer volume of what we consume when we eat those foods convinces us that we’re full. But that passes quickly and our bodies are left unsatisfied. Our bodies know when they need protein. They know when they need Iron or B Vitamins. They know when we need fiber. But we have learned to ignore those needs. Part of our Real Food love affair is learning to listen to our bodies. To pay attention to our natural body rhythms and learn what satisfies them.
People look at me funny when I start describing Real Food. I’m a tree hugger. A hippie. A gullible fool who has been taken in by the new “fad” movement. I ask that person if they thought their grandparents, who generally only had access to REAL food were hippies. It still takes more explanation than I would like to get the light-bulb to go off over their heads and, unfortunately, I know most people won’t give it any more thought than that one conversation. But even one conversation is better than none.
So, if you ask me WHY real food?
I’m going to ask you WHY would you choose to eat Chemicals? Why are we so concerned with being more “Green” when it comes to polluting the earth but we don’t care how we pollute our bodies? And why can’t reasonable, educated people make the connection to the fact that the more we pollute our bodies, the more we pollute our earth in the process. The circle of life and food is still connected, whether you’re eating food like product or real food. It takes chemicals to make chemicals. It takes clean soil and water to grow real vegetables.
Real food isn’t a fad. It’s a tradition. It’s healthy. It’s sustainable.
I’m hoping food-like products, which are only part of the last 100 years of human history, are the fad. Who, really, is the gullible person here?
Just my thought of the day with a side of food for thought.
- 20 Days Into Our Love Affair with Real Food. (logicaldaydreamer.wordpress.com)