I giggle a little when people step onto dietary soapboxes and tout their particular eating style as the healthiest, or the best, or the simplest, or the quickest way to poop like a caveman. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly guilty of the food claims, and most of my writing is directed towards making changes in the dietary health arena. But I think some Americans are a bit out of touch with food issues in this country, and certainly how difficult it may be for their peers to make fitting changes.
A few weeks ago, a guest blogger posted this infographic on my site. It brings up the concept that a large majority of Americans don’t have access to a supermarket in their neighborhoods, and that factors such as education play an important role in whether a family joins the ranks of the Nation of Obesity or not. This issue could not have been made more clear recently, as we moved from a rural, seasonally-crowded resort area on the East Coast to a more urban one out west. Suddenly, not only did we have healthy choices within walking distance, we have MULTIPLE choices within a small radius: co-ops, Trader Joe’s, Sprouts, Albertson’s, and the local farmer’s market.
Our first trip to the Trader Joe’s here amounted to: $110.59 (subtract out the olive oil and coconut oil we would have had on-hand if we were not stocking an empty pantry, and it would have been under $100). We bought mostly organic veggies, organic meat, and nuts, since we’re trying to cut out the wheat and dairy we’d been consuming for convenience during our move. I thought, “Hey, let’s do a modified Paleo/Primal thing–just to try it!” Last week’s meal plan:
Lunches: salad greens with red pepper and sliced roast beef; PB&J for the kiddo; or leftovers some days
Sunday: Bacon, brussel sprout, and onion/garlic sauté
Monday: Chicken apple sausage, Southern greens, sautéed peppers
Tuesday: Roasted chicken drumsticks, carrots, celery, and onions
Wednesday: Ground turkey sautéed with onion in a yogurt sauce, served with spaghetti squash
Thursday: Baked egg cups with sautéed asparagus inside
Friday: Sausage and pepper fajitas
Saturday: Almond-crusted cod with broccoli
Basically, it was quite simple to make healthy, filling meals BECAUSE WE HAD ACCESS TO THE INGREDIENTS, we’re educated enough to understand a balanced diet, and we have the funds to make it happen. I was completely shocked at how moving to a different area made such a difference.
This is why it is so important for us to fight to get GMO’s out of our food supply, why labeling is important, why it is crucial to teach children about food, about how it functions in the body, and where it derives. One shouldn’t have to relocate just to find healthy food choices for her family, one shouldn’t have to learn to garden just to produce reliably-healthy vegetables, and one shouldn’t have to pay out the ass nor require extensive investigation into ingredients just to put together some healthy meals.
If you’re in the 20% of Americans who live in rural areas (with less than 40k people), or if you live in an urban area but just don’t have access to the grocery stores that focus on health, or if you’re simply too busy/taxed/disinterested to pore over your shopping choices each week: I HEAR YOU. I’ve been there. I hope to use this blog as a platform for not only spreading the word about healthy eating, but fighting for large-scale change. There’s got to be a simpler way.
It’s a really interesting question. What prevents us (general us) from eating healthfully? I came from a family that lacked in knowledge and time to eat as healthy as we could have. I am working on learning what is best for our family and our circumstances, which can be difficult to navigate with so much information out there.
I will say my biggest challenge is snacks. I wish I could make them all and never buy packaged food again. This is something that many families can’t even consider and I feel lucky that this is a big challenge. The second is cost, particularly as my boys keep growing and eating!!
I agree about the snacks. I got really motivated awhile ago and made our own crackers, energy bars, bread… it really makes a difference. But it really takes a lot of time, too! I think I lasted less than a month! I never set out to be a “homemaker” and baking isn’t my forte. As much as I like creating my own snack foods, spending a chunk of time in the kitchen to do it requires planning, or at least a strong desire to make it happen–and I’m someone who KNOWS how to cook and generally likes it! You’re right; it’s such a challenge for many.
You talk about wanting to help people eat better and that is AWESOME. But then you go and knock conventional farming, including biotechnology — which is providing healthy, safe, and affordable food for people. That’s really a shame because your goal is admirable.
I’m not sure I understand where I “knock[ed] conventional farming.” Do you mean where I said we need to get GMO’s out of the food system? Methinks you might be sent from Monsanto.