“Oh, you like sweet and sour chicken? Great! That’s so good for you!”
That’s what I heard a mother tell her daughter while reaching into the Grocer’s freezer for the box of over processed microwave ready “Chinese” food.
A few aisles back, another mother was telling her daughter that they were going to get fish sticks that night because they were going to eat healthy.
That’s when it finally hit me. It’s not that nobody cares about their own health, it’s that most Americans don’t even know what healthy eating is anymore. These grown women were telling their children that they wanted them to make healthy choices and then guided them towards boxes of nutrient-less garbage.
When I was young, I was lucky. I was allowed to eat junk food sometime, but I was taught what healthy choices were. “Shop the perimeter of the store,” my mother would explain. “Everything else belongs in the trash.”
She was just making a generality because in the perimeter, you will find fresh fruits and vegetables. You will find real juice instead of artificially sweetened juice drinks. In the perimeter, you will find actual fish, not preservative rich breading with a minuscule amount of pressed and processed fish. In the perimeter, you will find real chicken. You will find fresh herbs.
These days, I do find myself venturing off into the aisles, but on guard. When I enter the aisles, I know to be on the look out for artificial flavoring, preservatives, chemical sweeteners, HFCS, and pretend salts. I could make my own chicken broth. It wouldn’t be hard, but sometimes I want to take the easy way out and grab a box of chicken broth. I am careful not to be tempted by the seventy five cents I could save by getting chicken broth with MSG because I know I will get a headache later if I do. That headache is more than a headache, it’s my body confirming what my mother taught me: It’s. Not. Food.
I know that I’m not rich and I should count my pennies. I know that to many people, the fact that I choose organic, healthy foods seems like an extravagant luxury.
Here’s the thing: My children’s health is not a luxury.
My children’s health is directly related to the food I give them. So, while I can pass on the designer (or even non-hand-me-down) clothing, I can not pass on healthy food.
Besides, healthy food is a financial investment. It saves on doctor bills later. Here’s a little snippet that says it all from Food Inc.? I just wish I had a fancy phone so I could whip it out and play this video for people when they tell me that my healthy food choices are a luxury.