Food has Something to Say

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Hi. We’re food. You know us. No need for fancy intros.

Well, we’re the new celebrities. Step aside Bieber and Miley. You’re not edible and no one needs you to survive (we know someone out there disagrees with this statement). We’ve been in several documentaries (Katie is our newest fan), we’re always in the news, and social media devours us too. But just like celebrities, most often it’s our notoriety that grabs headlines… too much, too little, too expensive, too cheap, to this or too that.

Well news flash.. you made us this way. Yup. YOUR fault. Well sort of.

Through a series of perfect storms, you inadvertently made us what we are. Celebs that you love and hate. And now you’re all loving and hating on each other because of how you choose to hang out with us. Seriously, we’re laughing here!

So let’s talk about our so-called ‘bads’. You see, some of us are forced to go through a series of makeovers, wardrobe changes and make up routines because 1. you’re addicted to some of our special effects (sugar, fat, salt) (oh, we’ll discuss rehab in a minute) and 2. you want to trick your mind and body by taking away calories and adding a lot of ‘fluff’ to us so that we taste good but don’t do any harm to your waist lines, bowel, allergies… Trouble is, both 1. and 2. are on a collision path to a bigger and sicker you. It’s rocky convincing addicts and deniers. Truth is when you’ve messed with us beyond a point of recognition, well, we fight back. So don’t blame us. You did this.

What else makes us bad? Oh yeah… you want more of us for less. Sure, cheap is nice. But when we’re cheap, we are SO far removed from our original states which often means (drum roll)… defer to paragraph 4 above.

What’s bizarre is that the cheaper we get, the more we profit just a few… and it’s those few who pretty much have a LOT of say on how we roll. That’s your fault too. You’ve allowed them to do all of the above, and then to paste us just about everywhere. Too much sugar? Too much fat? How about too much visibility? We believe that you are smart enough to cue in to when you really need us. Why are you putting us everywhere? When you see us ALL THE TIME, your need to eat turns into must eat. Healthy relationships always need a little space.

And all this visibility gives you a false sense of knowing a lot about us, but you don’t really know us. Many of you don’t know where we come from, let alone how we come to be. You’ve become dependent on others to make us and you just want to eat and be left to do other things… like watch Food Network or play on your smart phone. THIS IS US DAMN IT! YOU EAT US! You can’t be ignorant of how we evolve and what we do to you. We really cackle when we are fads. You all want to be gluten-free but many of you don’t know what the heck this is, let alone need this. Only a few do. Geez. You probably do more research on the next generation smart phone than on us, period.

So prefer us cheap and bad… I’m sorry, did you I hear you say there is NO bad food? Well, just like there are good and bad people, good and bad dogs, good and bad hairstyles…  there is good and bad food. And like all of these, there’s a bunch in between. Please stop trying to convince yourselves that there is no bad food, just use moderation. The truth is, heck yeah we can be bad, and because of this, use moderation. It’s all in how you word it.

Ok, what else? Your constant desire for perfection that you’ve projected on us. You experiment with our DNA to make us look flawless, bigger and better. Some of you think this is all bad. What do we think? Well, we marvel at how smart you are but while we appreciate your help, we don’t need cosmetic surgery or performance enhancers. We accept ourselves in whatever shape, color or form we produce and if we get the right dose of water and soil nutrients, we are truly nutritious. We think another reason you’re digging around with our DNA is because your food production choices (aargh) are forcing you to fix us to cope. Add to this your worries that Mother Nature, our true boss, won’t do her job to help us adapt to the climate you’re messing with too… well, we’ve coped for millennia. Survived extinctions too. Just sayin’… . And that theory about not having enough to feed the world? On our last check, there is enough of us to go around. It just so happens that your wars, politics and greed keep us in some hands, out of others.

Boy, this freakin’ (we’re keep in this kid-friendly) complicated paradigm you have built upon us stinks and we’re getting all the flack for it. Even those of us who are good, you know, the local and organic, the omega 3s and resveratrol… even we get the flack. And since when did food, grown in ways your grandparents and generations before chose, become elitist? Back in the day the majority of us were ‘organic’. Many of you make fun of us when we’re grown on farms that take care of their biodiversity or choose to, well, just be different in their approach to producing us. Huh? Since when did mother nature get weird? Or backward? She’s laughing at you now. You don’t want that.

So because we’re celebs, and clearly frustrated, we’re going to remind you about some things:

– We don’t like to be adulterated too much and wish you’d accept and try us more, minus the make up, surgery and special effects.  We’re kind of in the midst of an identify crisis here and could do with your help to help us find our true selves again. This starts by you committing to rehab. A farm, farmers’ market, cooking demo, cooking class, or even just gazing at the produce section in the mega stores may help you rediscover how beautiful and unique we are in our most original forms.

– We don’t like to be too cheap. We should be valued because we impact your health more than anything else in your life. So if you choose more of us ‘baddies’ we’ll treat you bad. If you try to hang out with more of us ‘goodies’ well, the possibilities are fruitful. Now we know some folks struggle to find balance. You know, our biggest mission from the get go has been to not only feed, but to nourish too, regardless of how you look and how much money is in your bank. We like to call ourselves a ‘right’. We despise food injustice. Do something about it.

– And our last ask. Please stop picking on us. You need to be accountable for everything that has gone wrong with food because you did it. When we first arrived, your creator tasked mother nature to task us to feed you and to help you flourish. Well mother nature ain’t happy that we are barely recognizable, being exploited, making you fat and sick, and, oh yes, are actually partly accountable (because of you) for the destructive forces she’s having to discipline… NO NO NO! This is ALL because of your doing! We ask that you unmake all this. You can do better with us. Everything from choosing better to fighting for us.

Please.

Sincerely, your biggest celebrity,

Food

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(Channeled by Jessica Avasthi. Apparently she’s a registered dietitian. And she’s a mindful eater and wants you to be the same. How convenient.)

 

 

 

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Food-parency

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Food has been making the headlines again, but not quite in the light we would hope.

We’ve learned that here in the U.S. we’re eating 8 foods banned elsewhere in the world. Within a few days, the list had evolved into 11 chemicals in our food. And when this list features growth hormone-infused milk and bromated flour breads, you’re left wondering how two innocent foods have become so adulterated.

And believe it or not… your pantry may house some frauds. That’s right. Certain food items and ingredients have a decent market value, so counterfeits are fast becoming the norm. Don’t you remember the honey debacle? Well vanilla, cocoa and sugar join its ranks. And unfortunately, this may impact the organic industry too.

Unfortunately less desirable practices impact major food industries too. Kelloggs is in the headlines regarding its labeling of certain products like Pop-Tarts. If it says ‘made with real fruit’, it’s not. Turns out General Mills had a similar issue a couple of years ago with its fruit roll ups. You would’ve thought that this earlier stern tap on the knuckles would’ve jolted the industry to cut dubious labeling… but no, this keeps happening and it’s impacting consumers the most. After all, if it’s going to say ‘made with real fruit’, consumers deserve to know the truth before they or their children eat these products.

By now you can’t help but feel fear and angst at the thought of going to a supermarket, but don’t panic. Here are some simple strategies to improving your food literacy for food-parency:

1. Most HIGHLY processed foods are likely to be loaded with ingredients you can barely pronounce, so check the ingredients. But there are some safe havens. For example cereal choices like oatmeal, cream of wheat, grits or muesli are better if you really want to stay clear of artificial colors and ingredients at breakfast.

2. The candy, snacks and soda aisles are havens for anything artificial. These foods shouldn’t feature in your daily food choices AT ALL.

3. If in doubt… make your own. Yes, this means you’ll need to set a little bit of time aside to find easy recipes and cook, but the more control you have over your food, the better it’s going to be for you. After all, I doubt you have tartrazine or bromated oil in your pantry.

4. Follow food blogs (like this one!) or major media outlets via social media. This helps you keep up with any food developments, recalls, food illness outbreaks etc.. Being engaged makes for a well-informed consumer.

5. And finally, air your grievances with the food industry. If you don’t like what you see, or believe you are being misled, tell them, even rally up the troops of you have to (try online petitions). The food industry has to respond. If they don’t, they lose their consumer base. And to date, their track record isn’t too hot so they’re going to need to make some fundamental changes on all levels (labor rights to food transparency) to survive the age of enlightened consumers.

So the next time you’re at the supermarket, you’ll be able to discern the friends from foes and still enjoy a nutritious and delicious life!

Stay hungry my friends,

Jessica Avasthi MS, RD, LD

Minding My Peas & Food