Monday, December 14, 2009

My Food is so Political

Is there some sort of legal standing on how many times you can say, "Please leave him alone" and "Please stop screaming" and "Give that back to him" and "I said don't do that" before, legally, you are considered insane? I'm just asking because I'm pretty sure I'm this close to going right over the edge.

And, having virtually nothing positive to say about parenting today, let's move on, shall we?

I read this article this weekend, from Prevention Magazine. They asked a bunch of 'experts' what people should eat, for the healthiest outcomes. There was no consensus, which doesn't surprise me at all. They just couldn't agree. But then they asked which foods people should not eat, and with this list of less than two handfuls of foods, they did come to agreement. (In case you can't read the article, in order: 1. canned tomatoes 2. corn-fed beef 3.microwave popcorn 4. non-organic potatoes 5. farmed salmon 6. milk with artificial hormones 7. conventional apples)

I'm sure there are other things, but I get so confused about all this. I mean, the experts (and I say 'experts' because I have no idea who they are, or what their credentials are) may have their own agendas. They seem heavy into organic farming, for example. Is that why they are so against the non-organics? Or is it the other way around...did they get heavily involved in the organics because they were already fed-up with what the pesticides, chemicals, and additives were doing to our food?

Tonight, I made a big salad with lots of veggies, a homemade dressing with oil and vinegar, some feta cheese and chopped raw walnuts, and then I added a few ounces of cooked salmon. It was delicious, and it should be so healthy ~ nuts and fish, with lots of omega-3s , lots of veggies and dark leafy greens. But as I was eating it (and enjoying the hell out of it), I couldn't help but wonder...were the peppers organic? The lettuce was. I'm pretty sure the onion wasn't. The salmon must be farmed, I am presuming, since it did not cost me eleventy-billion dollars for a one-pound fillet.

It's so easy to get crazy about food. At least, for me, it is. I try to eat healthy, to make good choices for my family...but it's so hard to sort out what the real threats are. Who does it serve to feed farmed salmon chicken crap? Seriously? Who does it serve, for that matter, to add corn syrup to everything? Here's where I get a little nutty...having the food industry making these decisions is a bit like handing over the keys to the hen house to the fox, am I wrong? Isn't that like asking the insurance companies how to do health reform? Or asking oil companies about the pros and cons of alternative energies? Isn't it just human nature to pick and choose any 'evidence' that might support what you already want to believe? And to subjugate or discredit any 'evidence' that is contrary to what you already want to believe?

Years ago, when the rBGh and rBST hormones came onto my radar (because I was buying milk for my kids) I switched to organic milk. Our family friends, who own a dairy farm, pretty much called bullshit on the organic milk. Is that true, though? I know they really, sincerely did believe it was true. But people really-sincerely believe lots of things that I'm pretty sure are totally crackerjack crazy. Which one is it? Do I have to get a PhD in sustainable agriculture and nutrition before I can negotiate the average grocery store?

For that matter, does the average grocery store even offer the alternatives that I'm told I need to seek out? Do they even carry grass-fed beef?

Sorry I'm all question-marky and if we were actually having this conversation, face-to-face, I'd probably have to admit that I'd be spitting on you, just a little bit, because yes, I'm that wound up. Some things are easy to give up ~ I prefer air-popped to microwave popcorn anyway, and I am very nearly set with my own tomatoes for most of my cooking needs ~ but other things are so cumbersome. When I was in college, I was pretty poor, and I can remember going to the corner market to look for a snack suitable to call 'lunch' (for under $2.50) and I would spend some time looking at nutrition information and ingredient lists, and eventually, I would leave with nothing to eat. Because I was incapable of making a healthy decision, given the options, and it was so overwhelming that I basically 'gave up' and left empty-handed.

That's a pretty extreme reaction! And, so you can sleep tonight, you should know I haven't missed a meal OR snack since 1997, believe that. Also, let me just add here, I'm not insensitive to the fact that it is only because I live in the US, a land of nearly embarrassing riches when it comes to the food and beverage choices we get to make, daily, that this is even an issue...I'm sure there are lots of people, with real problems, who would roll their eyes at the amount of energy I've already devoted to trying to figure all this out, I get that...but still, it shouldn't be this hard.


  1. it is soooooo difficult. i posted the link on facebook. thanks.

  2. Yes to everything you said! I want to believe that someone who critically thinks about the various arguments can ferret out the "truth." The problem is that knowing all the pertinent facts is probably not possible.

    However, Frances Moore Lappe (of Diet for a Small Planet fame) said at a talk she gave while I was in college (I paraphase)
    that we have only two choices. Make only a small difference, or make no difference at all. That was heartening to me.

  3. You forgot..."or, asking a climate scientist about global warming"!!

  4. Michelle ~ cool! I never do that... :(

    Kelly ~ I love that! I have to say, that does help. Strangely.

    Tra ~ ha! Or, "asking Erik which is better, the original Star Trek or The Next Generation series". lol There's just no dealing with some people! haha